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Helen Bradford Crane


Helen Bradford came from an old Providence, RI family that had been long established in both society and finances. Her parents were quite adamant that Helen be well educated and meet ‘just the right’ people.  She attended the Lincoln Day School, Providence, RI, and attended and graduated from Smith College with a degree in English, which her parents considered ‘appropriate’ for a proper young lady. What she did, after graduation, caused her parents no end of consternation. She met and married, a young man from a ‘good family’, the fifth child and youngest son of the Crane family, David Crane, who after graduating Brown University, took a commission in the Navy, and Helen Bradford found she was the perfect fit for the young man.  

Embraced with enthusiasm by the Crane family, the Bradfords reluctantly gave their blessings to the young couple, as they were married, and left for David’s first posting, in the Far East. David Crane worked hard at his career, as Helen worked equally hard to give him a balance with family life. David was on course for command in surface ships, and by the time Lee was born, he was a Lt. Commander, stationed at the Newport Naval Station in Newport Rhode Island. 

Helen and David bought a house in Providence, with David commuting to the base when he was stationed at his tours on base.  With the training he received at the schools at Newport, David was made the XO on the USS Orion. His berth on the Orion was his final posting as it was on the Orion that he was killed.  

With his death, Helen Crane, who had been a very happy, outgoing person, changed dramatically. She became withdrawn, and brooding, insisting that Lee do the ‘right’ things for and with both families, but while loving her son, becoming removed from any but the basic interactions with him. She did not know how to cope with the loss of her husband, and it was reflected in her life with her son. The boy knew that his mother did love him, but he missed his father, and didn’t know how to cope with his now emotionally removed mother. Helen tried very hard to give the boy everything he needed, but she was unable to give him what he wanted, an open and happy mother.

She was angry with David for dying, and tried to remove all memory of him from their lives, which only caused Lee to seek out him in books, and other family. As the boy grew into a young man, he decided he wanted to follow a career in the Navy, which further alienated him from his mother. ‘Pops’ DeLuca had filled part of that gap, and Helen had been either oblivious or not caring. When Lee announced he had an appointment to the Academy, she stopped talking to him, refused to attend his graduation, and cut herself off from him. For some 12 years, she received cards from him, and sent him ‘proper’ responses, but never spoke to him. 

Her relationship with him began to change when he left the Navy to go to NIMR. Helen knew it was ‘based’ in the Navy and Navy rules and regulations, but in her mind, it was not the Navy that she hated, so she started to soften to Lee’s commitment to boats and the sea. When he was blinded by Dr. Gamma, and all thought he would never regain his sight, she made arrangements for him to come home to live with her. Fortunately, his sight did return, and Helen made her first trip to the west coast in twenty years to see Lee.

At that time, they reconciled, and began to build their relationship anew. 

When Lee started dating Cathy Connors, Helen and Lee finally resolved all of their differences, due in part to Cathy’s desire to know Lee’s mother, and make her a part of their lives. Lee willingly gave in, longing to have the mother he knew as a young boy, before his mother died. 

Helen rejoiced in the birth of her grandson, Robert, and travelled to Santa Barbara a number of times to share with Lee and Cathy in the growth of their son. She became very close to Cathy, coming to love her dearly. 

When Cathy was killed, and Lee left a widower with a small child, Helen did the only thing she could. She closed her house, and went to the west coast to live with Lee and help raise Robert. 

Living with her son, she saw him do what she had done when David died, and every moment she could she tried to protect young Robert from the deep, brooding grief that Lee was going through. Lee, having lived through the loss of his father at a young age, worked hard at being as engaged and loving as he could be when he was not on a mission away from the Institute. Whenever he was with Robert, whether he was home or in the MedCenter, with Helen’s help, he was involved with his son, something his mother had not been with him. 

When Caitlin Davis began helping with the children of the senior staff,  Helen Crane immediately recognized her interest in Lee, and Lee’s complete obliviousness to that interest.  She was extremely pleased when Lee and Caitlin began to date, and later married. She remained living at the Institute for the rest of her life, but she did reopen her house in Providence, and often took Robert on extended trips east to get to know his family there. 

She died in Santa Barbara, but is buried in Providence with David Crane.


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