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Helen Cleveland Fordham

September 2, 2017

Helen Cleveland Fordham, 88, of Metter, GA and widow of Benjamin (Ben) Elza Fordham, died Saturday, September 2, 2017 at Kindred Hospice in Columbus, GA.

Helen was a remarkable woman. She was born in Hartwell, GA, the eighth child of ten (and fourth daughter) of Fred Wendell Cleveland and Cecile Leona Morris Cleveland. She graduated from Hart County High School in 1945 at age 16 and was the co-captain of the undefeated state champion girls’ basketball team. She was awarded the Fannie Wilder Scholarship, a merit based scholarship awarded to a young female Georgia resident who demonstrated outstanding scholarship and financial need and attended the University of Georgia graduating in 1949. She met her husband Ben while attending the University.

Helen went to work at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Ga as an assistant buyer. On March 29, 1952 Helen married Ben in Atlanta, Ga. They were married for 53 years until Ben’s death in 2005. Upon marriage they moved to the Fordham family farm in Candler County, GA for a brief time before settling in Savannah, GA. Helen and Ben lived in Savannah, GA, Pompano Beach, FL and Columbus, GA. Helen worked for the Georgia Department of Labor as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in Columbus. She received a Masters of Education degree from Georgia State University in 1975.

Helen and Ben returned to the family farm in 1977 and began restoration. Upon completion the Watson-Fordham house, built in 1886, was listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. Helen continued to work with the Georgia Department of Labor in Statesboro until her retirement in 1991. She was a member of the First Baptist Church in Metter, GA and a member of the Naomi Sunday School class. In 2009 she moved to Columbus, GA where she resided until her death.

Surviving her are one son, Benjamin (Beverly) Cleveland Fordham of Gallatin, TN and two daughters, Rebecca Fordham Black of Metter and Barbara (Brian) Fordham McKnight of Columbus; two sisters, Elizabeth Cleveland Allsop of Atlanta, and Ann Cleveland Strickland of Hartwell; eight grandchildren Rhett (Katie) Fordham, Rusty (Leslie) Fordham, Helen (Mike) Kirkpatrick, Marie (Colm) Browne, Elizabeth (Chad) Mathis, Brian (Alexa) McKnight, Abby Fordham and Alex Fordham; ten great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday September 9 at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church Metter, GA with the Rev. Tom Osborne presiding. Burial will be in the Antioch Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Twin City GA. Visitation will be from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. Friday September 8 at the Kennedy Funeral Home in Metter, GA. Grandsons and grandsons-in-law will serve as pallbearers. Remembrances can be made to Fannie Wilder Education Fund c/o Centers for Scholarship Administration, Inc. Attn: Allison Wagoner, 4320 Wade Hampton Blvd. Suite G, Taylors, SC 29687–0031. Guestbook: Kennedy Funeral Home, Hooks Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

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