Helen Paulson helped disabled kids

November 21, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Helen G. Paulson, who devoted much of her adult life to serving disabled children, died Friday of respiratory failure at her home in Roland Park Place where she had lived for the last decade. She was 94.

The Elkins, W.Va., native came from a medical background where her father, brother and an uncle were doctors. Her father founded Davis Memorial, the local hospital, and was its chief surgeon.

When she expressed interest in pursuing a medical career, her ** father told her, "Daughter, it's difficult enough for a man to be a doctor."

She came to Baltimore to study at Goucher College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1921 and continued her education at the Johns Hopkins University, where she received a master's degree in sociology in 1924. Her thesis topic was "The Care and Education of Crippled Children in Baltimore."

She was trained as a medical-social worker in the orthopedic department at Hopkins and was working toward a doctoral degree when she met Dr. Moses Paulson, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They married in 1926.

In 1982, the medical school established a chair in honor of Dr. Paulson's long and distinguished career. He retired in 1971 and died in 1991.

"My first love and interest," Mrs. Paulson said in a 1961 Evening Sun interview, "was in the welfare of crippled children."

Thus began an association of many years with the Baltimore League for Crippled Children and Adults, today known as the League for Handicapped.

Mrs. Paulson was a member of the board of the league and worked as a receptionist in its clinics.

"I became a jack-of-all trades, but I have finally found my niche," she said in the interview. "I always go home from the league clinics walking on clouds, so grateful that these children have something -- and I mean something more than medical care. They receive loving attention at the clinics and encouragement where encouragement counts so much."

Dr. Mary Loch, a retired obstetrician and Guilford resident who was a friend for more than 50 years, said of her: "She never had any children and was always interested in other people's children. If you went into her bedroom, there were pictures of children everywhere. She was a very strict person who had her principles, and nothing would ever change them."

Dr. and Mrs. Paulson, who lived for many years in the Temple Garden Apartments, had a close call in December 1963, when they and 69 other passengers got off a Pan American World Airways flight that had brought them back to Baltimore after a vacation in the Virgin Islands.

Leaving Friendship Airport after a 50-minute layover, the plane bound for Philadelphia crashed and burned in Elkton, killing 81 passengers.

Mrs. Paulson was a member of the Women's Auxiliary of the Baltimore City Medical Society, the Friends of Goucher Library, the Johns Hopkins Women's Club, the Country Garden Club and the Lecture Group.

Graveside services are planned for 9:30 a.m. today at the Oheb Shalom Congregation Cemetery, 6130 O'Donnell Street, Canton.

Mrs. Paulson is survived by a niece, Sara Schreiber of Pittsburgh; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

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