The legend of Grandma Gunn

You can call her mom, or grandma, or mawmaw, but whatever you call her she’s a straight shooter

by Kathy Tretter

Turning 95 during the first pandemic in a hundred years could be a real bummer.

Then again, if you are Grandma Gunn, there’s a good chance your family will find a way to celebrate.

While Grandma Helen Gunn’s 95th birthday was Thursday, May 21, she had to wait until Saturday for her big surprise — and what a surprise it was!

Her family perched Helen in a favorite rocker under a canopy at Yellig Park in Santa Claus and let the fun begin. Granddaughter Stacy Feltner put the word out that friends and well wishers would be invited to drive past and wish Helen many happy returns.

The friends and well wishers delivered! Even the St. Meinrad and Santa Claus fire departments, as well as the Santa Claus Police Department shared the love by leading the parade with sirens blaring and lights flashing! Car after car after car followed, many holding signs filled with well wishes out their windows, waving balloons or flags and shouting special greetings. Of special note (and to Helen’s delight) the elusive Spencer County Unicorn came frolicking down the road on foot and gave her a birthday air hug.

Helen Gunn was born to William and Katie Collignon on a farm between Santa Claus and Fulda. Her son, Tom, occupies that same farm today.

Helen married Carl Gunn — thus giving her that lovely moniker Grandma Gunn who was a most familiar and beloved face at Nancy Hanks Elementary for 22 years when she would visit and read to the students.

“That was the best time in my life,” Helen enthused on Saturday, just before the parade began. Many of the well-wishers were the former recipients of her generosity and well remembered how exciting it was when Grandma Gunn came to school, sat in a rocker and regales them with stories from her favorite books.

This was, of course, after her five children were born: Susan Gunn, Polly Hagedorn, Mary Ellen Moore, Kris Gunn and Tom Gunn. She was a homemaker during their childhood, although she helped her husband, Carl, with the bookwork for his garage business.

As to all those names, her kids call Helen mom, her three grandchildren and all the students she lovingly read to over the years call her Grandma Gunn and her three great-grandchildren call her mawmaw.

Today Grandma Gunn still loves books and especially enjoys word searches — not too shabby for a 95-year-old.

As everyone parted she agreed she would like to do this again — on her hundredth birthday!

Congratulations and best wishes Helen, mom, grandma and mawmaw Gunn!

One thought on “The legend of Grandma Gunn

  1. Thank you for such an awesomely written tribute to, I’m one of her daughters so, Mom! 😉 And thanks to everyone who has and continues to show her so much love and joy!

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