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Helen Gromme

Helen Helen Louise Gromme was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 7, 1970. When she was a month old, her family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where she would ride on her father's back on hikes through the mountains. This is where her love of nature began, and the names of the Rocky Mountain birds and flowers were among her first spoken words.

Annual trips back to her parents' land in Wisconsin and her exposure to her grandfather, preeminent wildlife painter and naturalist Owen J. Gromme, and his circle of colleagues increased her love of art and nature. When her family moved to the Chicago area, she enjoyed even more opportunities to explore the wilds of Wisconsin. After graduating cum laude with a double major in Art and Communications from Albion College in Michigan, Helen worked in an art and frame shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She then moved into the corporate world, becoming a successful salesperson for CDP Corporation.

After three years, Helen and her twin sister Andrea quit their jobs, packed their backpacks, and spent 14 months traveling around the world. They collected bugs with an entomologist in a Costa Rican cloud forest, went cliff diving in Turkey, attended elephant polo matches in Nepal, explored the Thar Desert in India by camel back, traveled in the back of pick up trucks in Northern Laos, trekked through the Golden Triangle in Thailand, lived on a small, remote island off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, and worked on a New Zealand sheep farm, Helen recording it all in journals filled with wit and insight.

Helen OutdoorsWhen the girls returned from their travels, they settled in Jackson, Wyoming and went to work for famed wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen. While in Jackson, Helen seriously pursued her passionate interest in writing and photography. She also met and fell in love with wildlife cinematographer Kenneth "Chip" Houseman, and assisted him on foreign assignments for National Geographic and ABC television.

While on assignment for ABC/Kane Productions' Living Edens Series, Helen and Chip lost their lives in a Thai Airways plane crash at Surat Thani, Thailand on December 11, 1998. Helen's enthusiasm, sense of humor, and love of life touched many people around the world. Her spirit will be in all of us in one of the places she loved most, the valley and mountains of Jackson Hole.

Based on Helen's interests in the arts and her love of the Jackson Hole area, her friends and family have created the Helen Gromme Memorial Scholarship Endowment that will provide two full scholarships to Jackson Hole High School Art and Literature program. If you are interested in more information or would like to make a donation to the Helen Gromme Memorial Endowment Scholarship, please contact David Watson at the Teton Science School, PO Box 68, Kelly, WY 83011. (307) 733-4765,, or

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