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In Memoriam: Helen Ward Evans Thompson Zolber


Helen Ward Evans Thompson Zolber passed away June 19, 2020, at her apartment in Walla Walla, Washington. Helen was born on January 22, 1927, in Brush Prairie, Washington, to Chloe Steelman Ward and Perry Ostin Ward; she was the youngest of six children. She graduated from Battle Ground High School in 1944. While in grade school and through the influence of a neighbor she became a Christian and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Being urged to further her education by one of her high school teachers, she chose to travel east to attend Walla Walla College (now WWU) where she majored in English and Physical Education. She graduated from WWC in 1949, being the first member of her family to obtain a college education.

Upon graduation, she was hired as a women’s dormitory dean at La Sierra College (now LSU), in Riverside, California. In 1954 she was asked to return to WWC as Assistant Dean of Women becoming Dean of Women in 1956. While serving in that position, she started her graduate work in English at Stanford University where she first obtained an MA, then finished her Ph.D. in English Literature in 1965. That same year she was asked to chair the Department of English at WWC, a position she held until 1975. Then she accepted the position of Academic Dean at Southwestern Adventist College (now SAU) in Keene, Texas.

In 1978 she married Thomas R. Thompson, and moved back to the Walla Walla Valley where she was named Director of Alumni Affairs for WWC. She and her husband became heavily involved in revitalizing the WWC Alumni Association, including raising money for the building of the Havstad Alumni Center and securing its endowment. In 1984 she became the Vice-President for Academic Administration at Loma Linda University, a position she held until 1989, when she and her husband again returned to the Walla Walla Valley.

After her husband passed away in 1998, she married a family friend, Melvin Zolber, in 2000. All the while she remained active and interested in the WWU Alumni Association. During her distinguished academic career she was honored not only for teaching and administrative excellence but also for pioneering work in the cause of equality for women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Melvin passed away in 2008. In the fall of 2019 she chose to simplify her life and moved to Wheatland Village on Catherine Street. She will be greatly missed by her three stepchildren: Marilynn Thompson Ladd (LaCrosse, KS), Evelyn Thompson Grosboll (Derbe, KS), and Tom Thompson (Walla Walla), their families, a host of friends, former students, and colleagues.

A Memorial Service was held at Mt. Hope Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 25th. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Walla Walla University Church Benevolent Fund, SonBridge, or Gospel Outreach. Friends and family may share memories and sign her online guestbook at


This obituary was provided by Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt and is reprinted here with permission from the family.

Photo courtesy of Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt.


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