Colby 1893, A.B.
Helen Beede Breneman was born in Nashua, New Hampshire to Mr. and Mrs. Joshua W. Beede. Her father was a physician in Auburn, Maine. He served as a trustee for Colby from 1894-1912 and received an honorary degree from the college in 1893. Helen attended Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. She enrolled at Colby in 1890. At Colby she was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and Phi Betta Kappa. In 1899, Helen entered the Bible Normal College at Springfield Massachusetts, which is now the Hartford school of Religious Pedagogy in Harford, Connecticut. She studied “Psychology, Pedagogy, and the Bible.” She left the following spring to prepare for her marriage in June. Helen was actively involved with church work as a member of the First Presbyterian Church and its missionary society. She taught Sunday school in Reading, Pennsylvania and Auburn, Maine. Always deeply interested in missionary work, Helen and her husband expected to go to China as missionaries in 1900 but were prevented from doing so by the Boxer Uprising. Late in 1929, they went to the Asheville Normal and Teachers College in Asheville, North Carolinia where Mr. Breneman was treasurer. The “Normal” was the capstone of the educational work of the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church for the girls of the Southern Mountains and the Cotton Mill Towns of that region. Though her affiliation with “The Normal” was unofficial, her active engagement with the girls of the school made a lasting impact on many of their lives. Later in her life she resumed her childhood hobby of drawing. She drew many pictures for church missionary programs and as gifts for family and friends. In 1952, Helen donated a painting of the Hopevale Cathedral to Colby, which was hung up in the Rose Chapel. The Hopevale Cathedral was a place of worship created in the Philippine Islands by the Reverend Francis H. Rose. Her hope was that by presenting it to Colby, some students might be inspired to commit their lives to missionary work. Helen died in Reading, Pennsylvania at the age of 84.
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