Keith and Ellen Helmuth ’55 Lifetime Service Award

By Andrea Wenger

D. Keith ’55 and Ellen Slabaugh ’55 Helmuth, recipients of the Lifetime Service Award for 2020.

D. Keith and Ellen (Slabaugh) Helmuth, both class of ’55, of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada, are being honored with the EMS Lifetime Service Award for 60 years of creation care in personal and professional settings.

“They were environmentalists before it was popular,” wrote former roommate and lifelong friend, James Lapp, in his nomination, describing them as “humble and unsung.”

The couple had hoped – before coronavirus – to celebrate their 65-year class reunion at Homecoming Weekend. Instead, the group – which has a record eight married couples from the class – will connect virtually.

Keith and Ellen have pursued environmental education, organic farming, community economic and social development work, writing for publication and
public presentation, the founding of Quaker Institute for the Future, and book publishing on environmental themes.

“Everything started for us from the standpoint of service and community,” writes Keith, reflecting on their journey.

“Jim Lapp and I were roommates for our senior year at EMHS,” writes Keith, noting that “Jim, Joe Longacher, Leon Stutzman, and I were especially good friends in those days and ever since.”

Leon and Keith were roommates in their junior year of high school, and Keith and Joe were roommates for their first year at Eastern Mennonite College. “So I had the great benefit of a close association with each of these remarkable men in those formative years.”

A photo of Jim and Keith in their pajamas in their dorm room recently came to light. The window in the photo “is the one from which I waved to Ellen on Nov. 17, 1954, after she had given me a lovely Buxton leather wallet for my birthday,” recalls Keith.

Keith wrote extensively about the couple’s passion to nurture a small corner of creation while sharing broadly through relationships, entrepreneurship and writing to influence others for the greater good.

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