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Wednesday, June 14, 2000

‘The card lady’
Helen A. Daniels
dies at 82

For 12 years, she created
Christmas card scrapbooks
for ailing isle children


By Rosemarie Bernardo


Helen A. Daniels was the Christmas card lady.

For 12 years, Daniels created Christmas card scrapbooks for isle children at Shriners Hospital for Children, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, and the Ronald McDonald House. She distributed the scrapbooks during the Christmas season.

Daniels used Christmas cards sent in from around the world. She wrote a poem for each letter of the alphabet with pictures cut out from Christmas cards.

Daniels died at Castle Hospital on Sunday. For 10 years, she suffered from emphysema and cancer, said her husband, retired Navy Capt. James G. Daniels III.

"Christmas won't be the same without her," said Duke Gonzales, director of public relations at Shriners Hospital.

Daniels, 82, was born in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on July 8, 1918. She was the youngest of five daughters of Col. and Mrs. Frederick T. Arnold. Her family moved to Hawaii in 1936. She married James Daniels on Aug. 10, 1940.

She began her art career in 1970 when her husband retired from the Navy.

"She was a wonderful woman," said James Daniels. "She was loved by everyone that knew her, including me."

Daniels made about 70 Christmas scrapbooks a year. "She was always artistic," said daughter Bonnie. Daniels was a member of the Windward Artists Guild, Roving Rembrandts and the Association of the Honolulu Artists.

In 1971 she took top honors in collage in the first Aloha Exhibit sponsored by the Association of Honolulu Artists.

The house was full of Christmas cards, said son Jay. "There were boxes stacked from the floor to the ceiling," he said.

People offered $100 for her scrapbooks, but she never sold them. "The scrapbooks were especially made for the children," said Jay.

"She sent a thank-you card to each person that sent in a Christmas card," he said.

Curtis Metzger, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, said, "She was an unsung hero."

"She did this as a labor of love for children who went through difficult situations during Christmas time," said Metzger.

When Daniels stopped making the scrapbooks due to health reasons, Cindy Delgado took over in October 1997. "She had a huge heart," said Delgado. "She'll always live in these books."

A private service will be held for Daniels. She will be cremated, and her ashes will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl. She is also survived by daughter Bonnie Daniels Gardner, son James "Jay" M. Daniels and grandson James Ryan Daniels.

Donations suggested to Shriners Hospital.

E-mail to City Desk

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