Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday

Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday title=
Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte gives Helen Grace Barnet Modugno a city proclamation for her 100th birthday.
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By Tom Modugno

On October 20th, Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte came to the home of Helen Modugno to graciously issue a proclamation in honor of Helen’s 100th birthday.

Helen Grace was born on October 20, 1922 to Newt and Catherine Barnet in Paris Texas, the youngest daughter of a family of seven. Her father was a sharecropper and the whole family did what they could to survive.

Helen grew up during the Great Depression and survived a childhood of extreme poverty. She helped pick cotton as a very small girl wearing clothes her mother made for her from old flour sacks and she recalls getting an orange in her stocking for Christmas one year, and being excited about it.

After High School, Helen moved to California and helped the war effort by working at an aircraft plant with other women and elderly men.

After the war, she worked as a cashier in a grocery store where she met her husband and the love of her life, Ralph. They dated for a couple of years and were married.

Helen willingly converted to Catholicism after she married into an Italian family. They worked hard together and were eventually able to buy a small grocery store of their own in the San Fernando Valley.

Helen and her family moved up to Santa Barbara Shores in Goleta in 1963 to escape the rising crime and overcrowding in Los Angeles.

Helen has lovingly raised six children, and has enjoyed playing with and babysitting eleven grandchildren and eight great grandkids.

Helen never forgot the poverty of her youth and always wanted to give back to those less fortunate than her. She has also served Saint Raphael’s Church in a number of capacities, including as a Sunday school teacher, the Women’s Auxiliary Board President and an Extraordinary Minister, bringing Holy Communion to the sick and elderly confined to their homes. Helen has always been a women’s rights advocate and fought hard to give women a bigger role in the Catholic Church and in all aspects of life. Helen and Ralph were both reliable donors to the Saint Raphael’s Church.

Helen worked as a volunteer librarian for Mountain View School for several years and was always willing to help where needed.

Helen credits her long life to healthy living and thanks her husband for convincing her to quit smoking at an early age, avoiding the lung cancer that took all her sister’s lives.

Her mind is still sharp and she was active on social media until well into her 90’s.

Helen spends her days living peacefully in Goleta with a loving helper, taking daily strolls around the neighborhood and she enjoys regular visits from her family.

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bicyclist Oct 23, 2022 12:01 PM
Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday

Tom - the pic of Helen with the red sweater & glasses (really cool BTW), made me stop & wonder if they were sunglasses or just normal everyday wear ones? Thanks for posting, & wishing her the best birthday! I bet the "strolls around the neighborhood" are whats keeping her looking so young/spry!

two abbys Oct 23, 2022 04:39 PM
Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday

Thank you for sharing this tribute to such a beautiful and lovely woman! The photos are glorious. I need stories like this, kind people leading good lives.

roetter1 Oct 24, 2022 06:54 AM
Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday

Tom thanks for sharing your Mom’s family history. Your Mom has lived and reflected the American dream; hard work, family, community, and giving back were all part of her success. Making it 100 years is no small feat so guessing she was also very optimistic and optimistic in the future which is amazing coming from such a tough childhood. BTW your Mom had fashion style. You may need to follow up with some of her Goleta historical memories.

John Wiley Oct 24, 2022 10:05 AM
Helen Grace Barnet Modugno’s 100th birthday

Thanks Tom, for another fabulous post! Such a fun and heartwarming tribute. She sure looks younger than a century, and her memories spanning the millennium are a treasure of herstory. She embodies the grace in her name. Guess she's contributed to the fascinating posts you've generously shared here on Edhat. Happy Birthday Helen Grace!

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