You are viewing the print version of this article. Click here to view the full version.
Columbia Missourian

Helen Keown, 'bingo queen,' dies at 90

By Jake Kreinberg
January 23, 2012 | 7:47 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Helen Keown's personal standards about how to live were difficult to meet. Now, her children honor those standards by trying to live life to the fullest. 

"The thing I learned from her the most is people live up to the standards we set," her daughter, Linda Keown, said. "If we expect excellence, that's what we get."


Related Media

Helen Keown, of Columbia, died Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. She was 90.

She was born Jan. 23, 1921, in Philadelphia to John and Florence (Bauroth) Mooney. 

Mrs. Keown graduated from Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, in 1939. She then entered nurses' training at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia where she met her husband, Kenneth Keown, who was a senior medical student.

They were married Nov. 23, 1941, in Kirtland, Ohio, while her husband was an intern physician in anesthesiology.

Mrs. Keown accompanied her husband to Oklahoma and Texas when he enlisted in the United States Army Medical Corps. When he was on duty in the European Theater of Operations in 1944 and 1945, Mrs. Keown returned to Philadelphia to work as a nurse.

After the war, the Keown family continued to live in the area until moving in 1957 to Columbia, where Kenneth Keown established MU's Department of Anesthesiology and became its first chair.

With two young children, Mrs. Keown's first priority was making the move as easy as possible.

"She worked very hard to make our growing-up experience as perfect and ideal as it could be," Linda Keown said.

In Columbia, Mrs. Keown volunteered for many organizations, including University Hospital, the Museum of Art and Archaeology at MU and the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. She was a member of the Constance Emig Circle of King's Daughters and Missouri United Methodist Church until her death.

Mrs. Keown lived the past 26 years alone following the death of her husband, all the while becoming a more independent woman, her daughter said. Her family recognized her accomplishments.

"She was a strong woman who knew exactly what she wanted," her granddaughter, Deidre Keown, said in an email. "My Nana was a very intelligent woman who became successful on her own at probably one of the hardest times in her life."

Kenneth Keown Jr. remembers three lessons taught by his mother: Make the most of what you get from life; know the difference between right and wrong, and strive to always do what's right; and if you lie, you will eventually be discovered, so always tell the truth.

Mrs. Keown enjoyed traveling, playing bridge and socializing with her many Columbia friends.

"She loved to play games," Linda Keown said. "She considered herself the 'bingo queen' of the Lenoir (Nursing) Home. 

"I could never beat her. She beat the pants off anyone." 

Mrs. Keown is survived by two children, Kenneth Keown Jr. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Linda Keown of Columbia; and two grandchildren, Deidre Keown and Kenneth Keown III.

One brother, John Mooney, and her husband died earlier.

A memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday at Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 South Ninth St., by the Rev. Amy Gearhart. Friends may greet the family after the service.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, 2101 Vandiver Drive, Suite B, Columbia, Mo., 65202, or Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 South Ninth St., Columbia, Mo., 65201.