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Helen Yoon 1975 – 2023 <em data-lazy-src=
Feature

Helen Yoon 1975 – 2023 There’s a Light… 

Helen Yoon (October 1, 1975 – December 29, 2023) with her loving husband
Simon Yoon. Photo courtesy of the Yoon family

There’s a light. Her name is Helen Yoon. In her passing, after privately battling cancer, a fracture was felt in the center of our little town, Topanga. She held that center together in many ways—that is not hyperbole. I wrote an article during the pandemic that featured Helen and her husband Simon. I was intrigued by their work ethic and consistency. That piece detailed the immense well of support their family has been to all of us in the canyon. During the most trying experiences a community can go through together: a public health crisis, fire threat evacuations, the grievances and losses, the minutiae of our daily lives, Helen held it down for us with such a calm it seemed to seep into our skins. Everything would be okay. Helen and Simon never closed the General Store. That constant was balm for my heart and so many others. The phone calls, messages for Helen, love letters in chalk dust, are affirmation that light really does seep in through the fractures and love fills them in.

Going through the hardest time of my adult life, I would be breaking and stressed after school drop off. I would buy a pack of cigarettes on those really hard mornings. She would often greet me with a smile. But on those cold mornings it was warmth, never judgment. Always so loving and caring. She made me feel deeply seen. I knew Topanga was my home when I met Helen. A warm woman behind the counter at the local general store. This is where I want to live. ~Jessica Monty

Helen was the sweetest woman. I’m in so much shock. She gave me mom advice when I was pregnant and she always had a smile on her face when we visited. So many little chats with her. May she rest in peace. Sending love to her family! ~Latoya Hawthorne

A warm smile and graceful presence one could count on rain or shine. ~Peter Kagan of Canyon Gourmet

Thank you for always greeting my family with a smile and a chat, no matter what was happening in your life. Your kindness will forever be remembered. ~Erica Phillipson

Candles, flowers, and messages of love and support formed a heartfelt memorial outside of the
Topanga General Store, as the community spontaneously came together to celebrate the life of
Helen Yoon, and mourn her passing. Photo by Denis Hannigan

Helen held a space for us that was real, warm and present. I will really miss her. She truly was an integral part of our Topanga community. It just won’t be the same without her. Genuine people like Helen are rare and precious. ~Be Love Apparel Topanga

Helen I will miss you forever, you taught me kindness, contentment, grace. Growing up and seeing you always made my heart warm. I see your beautiful smile, I see your gifts, I see your angelic presence, I see your loving eyes, I see your dedication. Rest easy Angel. ~Vanessa Frazier

It was an unspoken rule when you were in line at the General Store that everyone would gladly wait for their turn to catch up with Helen when she was in the register. She ALWAYS asked about my entire family. We are simply devastated by her passing. ~Erika Heel

My favorite memory about Helen is how she’d always look at my shopping basket of ramen, spam, and ice cream and she’d be like “you always pick the good ramen” and then we’d talk about the weather. Of course I had no idea she was battling cancer though some things make sense now. So much love and grace to her family and the deepest gratitude for her service to the community. ~Aravind Abraham

Helen, you helped me during a difficult time. I never knew you were struggling. I wish I could have helped you. ~Mark Montalbano

Photo by Denis Hannigan

I am so sad to hear of Helen’s passing. I did not know she was ill. She was always wonderful to our family. We were both featured in an early edition of the Topanga New Times, and we shared a bond after that. When I was recovering from a broken pelvis, she got me special yogurt for healing bones, and later during the pandemic, when I had covid, she would put extra food in the bag while I waited outside. I will always appreciate her kindness. It was always wonderful to stop by the store and pass the time of day, to feel welcomed and known… My heart goes out to her family. ~Sarah Lejeune

Photo by Denis Hannigan

My family and I were deeply grieved to hear of Helen’s passing. …She always had a smile and a kind word and would ask about our children and family. She and her family supported many of those struggling in the canyon with food and necessities. She always helped us with Butterfly Day and many community events. We will deeply miss her loving energy and extraordinary spirit. She was truly an angel in our community. Sending love and comfort to her family. ~Alisa, Kent, Rebecca and Kristian Land Hill

Written and compiled by Saori Wall

Memorial for Helen Yoon on Sunday January 14 and Funeral Services January 15, 2024 at Rose Hills Memorial Park. More information www.rosehills.com/obituaries/whittier-ca/helen-yoon-11604936.

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