Cover photo for Helen Beach Cannon's Obituary
Helen Beach Cannon Profile Photo
1938 Helen 2024

Helen Beach Cannon

June 9, 1938 — March 7, 2024

Salt Lake City, Utah

Helen Clara Beach Cannon died on March 7, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah, at age 85. Helen was born in Logan, Utah, on June 9, 1938 to Ellis and Geniel (Singleton) Beach. Helen grew up in Logan. For nine years, she was an only child, and then was joined by sisters Johannah and Hollie. 


Helen attended Utah State University and married Larry Cannon. After Larry's completion of degrees in mathematics at the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin, and the birth of their first son, Bruce, they returned to Logan where Larry accepted a teaching position in the Math Department at Utah State University. In Logan, they had two more children, Steven and Laurel.


Helen was a passionate reader, writer, poet, and teacher. She loved the natural world: hiking and cross country skiing in the mountains surrounding Cache Valley, canoeing in the marshes, and exploring the Intermountain West. Helen was a life-long gardener, a knowledgeable botanist, a talented modern dancer and singer. She took pride in growing her own herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers, which she transformed into violet syrups, herbal vinegars, and artistic dried floral arrangements. She was a skilled and inventive cook, making complex and delicious dishes. She enthusiastically encouraged each member of her family in pursuit of their passions.


Helen was driven, quirky, compassionate, and stubborn. She developed close, lifelong relationships with many of her students—an affection that continued through letters and visits for decades after their first meetings. Helen will be especially remembered for her love and generosity. She was a great gift-giver to friends and family. Her whole life, she was academically inclined. As a young mom, she found kindred spirits in a group of Cache Valley women with whom she created an unusual preschool where moms and kids could learn alongside each other. She wrote poetry for friends, and essays for The Herald Journal. She woke in the wee hours of the morning to “steal time” to study Virginia Woolf, Colette, New Yorker authors, and others. After her retirement, she took pleasure in combining her love of literature and the garden on a Utah Public Radio program titled “Petals and Prose.”


Helen was a beloved and lifelong educator. In the 1980s, wanting to further her knowledge of literature, Helen returned to USU to complete graduate work in English. From that point through her retirement in 2001, Helen taught at USU a course she created in creative nonfiction. To engage and challenge her writing students, she used The New Yorker magazine, which students received weekly as their text. Helen and Larry would read it cover to cover, in preparation. She expected the same careful reading by her students. Each week in class, she would excitedly carry a big box of books and articles to share - always preparing more than she could get through in the hour. She carefully read and annotated all of her students’ papers, returning them with voluminous notes in the margins, offering gentle correction and encouragement and sometimes even a small gift related to the subject of the paper. 


Over the forty years since her first teaching assignment, many students have commented that she helped them to find and trust their voice. Students and colleagues remember her high standards, passion, and concern for them. Helen and Larry will continue to give to students, current and future, through endowed scholarships that they have established at USU. 


Helen and Larry spent most of their adult lives in Logan, in a house on Canyon Road that they loved and cared for. They welcomed guests with warm meals and literary offerings, and they often had beloved dog companions at their sides. Although she was fortunate to have been healthy and athletic through much of her life, in the last several decades Helen struggled with diabetes and autoimmune disorders. She approached her increasing disability with remarkable grace and equanimity, retaining her loving character and keen mind.


Helen is survived by her husband Larry, her sister Johannah Segarich, her children Bruce Cannon (Juliette Fassett), Steven Cannon (Ethy), Laurel Cannon Alder (Nate), and grandchildren Liza Cannon and Frances Cannon, Jacob Alder (Zoe Morgan), Madeleine Alder, and Clara Alder Holdstock (Clayton). Students who, as adults, effectively became beloved “adopted” children, include Prashanta Bhat, Carrie C. Scheidel, and Kati Szanto. Helen and the family have been grateful for loving caregivers over the years, including Millie Hernandez, Naomi Coronel, and Tina Ouzounian. Ryan Williams took loving care of the gardens after Helen became unable to do so herself.


There will be a viewing on Saturday morning from 9:30-10:30 am, with the funeral following at 11:00 am on March 30, 2024 at the chapel of the Allen Hall Mortuary, 34 E Center St, Logan. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Helen and Lawrence Cannon Honors endowed scholarships at Utah State University: https://www.usu.edu/helencannon

 

Finally, ever a teacher, Helen asked that we invite those who wish to do so to make a brief written contribution—a reminiscence, tribute, essay, poem, or sketch. We will compile and share these later.


TO VIEW THIS FUNERAL SERVICE LIVE PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82527712930?pwd=cmZxYkJsVkszZ1czd052K2t3TGRRUT09
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