Oldsmobile’s ‘first lady’ honored

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LANSING, Mich. – Helen Earley, the “first lady” of Oldsmobile, was honored Dec. 4 with a portrait in the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum she helped create. The portrait will hang in the Helen Jones Earley Library of the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum.
Since Earley’s January 2005 death, her friends and fellow Oldsmobile enthusiasts searched for a way to honor Earley’s more than 50-year dedication to the marque. A portrait seemed the most appropriate.
For more than 50 years, Earley collected and preserved historic Oldsmobile information, and shared it with hobbyists through the Oldsmobile History Center, which she formed with Jim Walkinshaw. The duo also wrote three books on Oldsmobile.
In the late ’70s, she became part of a committee to create a Lansing transportation museum. That museum became the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum. Earley served on its board of directors for several years.
Earley’s love of Oldsmobile created a bond with thousands of like-minded enthusiasts around the world. They admired her for her dedication. She was a gentle lady who became known as the First Lady of Oldsmobile.
The members of the R. E. Olds Chapter wanted to do something unique to honor her memory. A committee was formed, and a decision was made to commission an oil portrait to hang in the museum that she was instrumental in starting and supporting.
Joe Dumont of Grand Ledge, Mich., was commissioned to do the painting. Joe would have to create the painting using photographs of Helen. He also took time to talk to people that knew Helen and to get to know her before beginning. The portrait depicts Helen standing behind a desk with several copies of her book, “Setting The Pace.” The oil painting will hang in the Helen Jones Earley Library of the R. E. Olds Museum.

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