messages about Dutch
Most of the following messages were written and sent to the WebWhispers email list. Some are complete but most are excerpts. We have left off the authors names because they were written to a private list. For members, the entire list archives are always available.
This will be an ongoing page as we add the goodbye thoughts from many who loved him.
From Webwhispers List
I would like to thank Dutch's caregivers. I was a care giver for many years. I took care of people who were dying as a private duty caregiver. I spent from 40 to 100 hours a week with them. Often at the end it was the 100 hours a week. I got to know and love each one of them and then watched as they prepared to go to the Lord. It was always hard at the end even though I know it was better for them. Dutch is very lucky to have people that have been so close to him to be with him at this time. I just wanted you to know that my prayers are not only with Dutch but with you and your sad hearts.Also with all the sad members of Webwhispers.The emails you have written have helped my heavy heart.
Voice of Life
For DUTCH HELMS:
Achievement earns recognition.
Now that I’ve lost the voice of life,
The thrush’s challenge to the breaking day-
Sharpens regret that nature’s sharpest knife
Has cut my ken and stripped the notes away.
And music's sound. When arpeggios swell and roll
My unheard words will taste the melody.
Cascading notes that merge and elevate the soul
Though there’s no voice in this dark soul for me.
You shaped for us these soundless themes,
And interlocked our world where we could share
New knowledge, to improve our speech and dreams
You gave to us a voice and secret ear.
Thomas Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc were responsible for bringing American Sign Language to America in the 1800's and establishing a way for Deaf persons to communicate with each other, Dutch was responsible for bringing a more modern form of communication to Laryngectomees. He was and always will be a pioneer for us.
Dutch and I met on the internet in a way that was totally unrelated to WebWhispers or laryngeal cancer. In fact, it was some time before he told me about his surgery and directed me to his personal website. That was in 1997. Since then he has been a teacher, mentor, friend and confidante and I've learned more about laryngeal cancer than I ever wanted to know. Many of you have talked about how much WW has meant to you and how helpful it
was to you. I hope you know that the formation and growth of this organization provided great satisfaction and purpose for Dutch and a means for him to carry on his lifetime of service to mankind. I often told him what an impressive man he was which always rendered him "speechless".
I felt the need to recall the wonderful words Dutch as well as Murray, Libby, Pat, and Terry said about me when I was awarded the WebWhispers Good Samaritan Award. Dutch made this possible by starting WW and this award was and is still intended to encourage member Larys to rush to the aid of other members of our group. This is what Dutch would expect of all of us. Thanks so much Dutch. We will all keep trying to please you.
He is at peace now, without pain and soaring again above the clouds. In loving memory that will survive through all of us.
Knowing this was coming surely did not help alleviate the sadness in my heart. The loss which has made this world a lesser place this morning will undoubtedly make heaven a greater one. For lack of words and tearful eyes, I can only cite Dutch's own words and say: Dutch, "Komm Gut Nach Hause!" You will be missed but never forgotten!
As a fellow Lary AND Texan I couldn't agree more. He WILL be missed but NEVER forgotten.
I thank God that he is at rest and not in any more pain. If ever there was a person that deserved to sit at our makers right hand it was DUTCH HELMS.
I'm sure it was no accident that Dutch passed away on "All Saint's Day". For all of us, DUTCH truly WAS A SAINT.
Like many of you, my adjustment the laryngectomee life was made easier because of his efforts. However, this doesn't surprise me for Col. Helms was a man who spent his
life serving others. His time in the service of his country bears this out. That is how I prefer to remember him - as a fellow "brother in arms". While his contributions to the laryngectomee community are no small matter, I would like to ask all veterans in our community to join me in one final and well deserved salute to Lt. Col. David "Dutch" Helms.
Fly away , find the light, now is the time for you to pray for us fly on lt col helms,on heavens wings , you will not be forgotten here on this planet and we will all see you again , until then, just fly!!!
Today our fearless leader has gone to spend time where he will no longer have pain. Remember the questions - Where were you when the Shuttle blew apart in front of our eyes, where were you when the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed. Now, where were you when Dutch flew with the angels to glory? I will always remember what I was doing. I was e-mailing a SLP who needed help with an elderly patient who needed a new electro larynx. And I was on the phone with a wife whose husband had just been diagnosed with lung cancer where the tumor is pressing on a nerve leading to his vocal cords. He could not talk and needed help. Why do I write all this? Because without Dutch my name would not available to people who need help.
Dutch and I shared several things; we are both fellow Masons and pilots. We also happened to be laryngectomees. It is most fitting that the poem "High Flight" was included with the announcement. There is another quote, that is mostly attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, but no one really knows where it came from. It is a favorite of pilots: "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." I think it is also most fitting that a Masonic graveside service is planned.
I hope to meet up with THE MAN when my time comes to thank him in person for the help his creation has given me. With great sadness.
I pray for Dutch's family for peace and love. I pray that Dutch and my dog Poppy become friends in heaven!
In the christian tradition, today is the feast of ALL Hallows or All Saints. It is so fitting that Dutch should be joining his family and friends and all the saints today. His generosity, humility, sense of service to others, perseverence and patience... among a few of his wonderful gifts, are an inspiration to us all. May he rest in peace and may he continue to inspire us with his wonderful spirit.
Not having served with Lt Col Helms, I cannot attest to his leadership as an Air Force Officer, but from what I have read about him on this site, he must have been one hell of an officer and gentleman! I would have been proud to serve with him! God bless you Dutch for all you have done for lary's everywhere and may you rest in peace. You have earned it.
G'DAY ALL, Everyone has been writing about how much Dutch has done for them as larys and rightly so for without his work we would all be trying to find things out for ourselves, struggling and still alone but i am writing to say how much i appreciated what he did as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. That was one of the most dangerous jobs for any pilot
over there and for Dutch to be decorated for his job goes to show the kind of man he was. When he reaches his destination he will be greeted not onlyby fellow larys but by fellow Veterans who will welcome him glady with open arms and look after him like he looked after them down here. So fear not he will not be lonely up there for he has untold number of
friends with him. The World is poorer for a Soldier Died Today.
Now, mate, you will forever have Fair Winds and Following Seas.
Having had the pleasure of meeting "the man" his warm greeting was as sincere as the help he tendered over this cyber network. Job well done, rest friend.
My sincere condolence's to everyone who has been touched and helped by dutch over the years he was a great man who will be greatly missed by us all.
As I read all about Dutch, I too want to say so long to a true and faithful leader. I shall miss you, my friend. As you went on your journey in the sky, the angels surely welcomed you as they led you soaring toward the heavens.
Not only was he the founder of a great, informative and life-saving support group, he was a friend to all of us and in turn made us friends to each other! He was also a great "referee" when things got heated! He put me in my place several times! I pray that he left this world painlessly and in peace, knowing that we all hold a special place in our hearts and in our life for him...
Col. Helms, I salute you.
Thank you Dutch for making us feel less alone in this world when we felt as if this awful thing was happening only to us. I happened upon this website in those first desperate days. Your words gave us hope.
I know that Dutch has gone to prepare new wings for those who will follow, and when we his fellow earthly pilots arrive to be fitted with them, we will be led by a great man with never again a hard landing or low fuel.
I will be there at his internment, with tears and fears and affection and thanks.
It is a sad day for us all. May Dutch reach the clouds and rest in peace.
During my first frightened days '01 as a new Lary, I called for help (figuratively) Dutch was the first to respond and he wrote about his ordeal when he first became a laryngectomee.
Just reading his bio assured me that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Never had the opportunity of meeting him, just knowing that FantumTwo was ever present was my security blanket. I'm going to miss his support whenever I need it.
The contributions Dutch made can never be quantified. We can be thankful to God that he went the extra mile in creating this website. He probably never knew just how much he helped us all or how grateful for the contributions to all of us who felt so "alone" upon becoming a larygectomee and being thrust us into a strange and unknown world. Thanks go to his caregivers as well.
As a young man he was a “soldier,” defending his country. In the end he was a warrior, fighting the dragon called cancer. He fought not only for himself – he fought for those who did not know how to fight back.
Dutch has helped us when we felt alone and lost for information, it was a comfort just to know that he was here, and willing to help, an email away. Peace be with you Dutch and you will never be forgotten. To his friends, who have taken care of him when he could no longer take care of himself, bless your hearts, you two are very special friends.
The day I came home a Laryngectomee, I was all alone - I didn't know anything - they just sent me home with this hole in may neck - but somebody here in my
neighborhood found out about webwhispers and told me about it - I immediately connected and was welcomed into the family. My first friend was Dutch.
Dutch made a real difference in the quality of life for me and so many others like me either directly or indirectly in enumerable ways.....He helped my caregivers and other caregivers in so many ways, making real differences in their lives....He helped so many so they could help so many others over and over again.....That's a sure nuff real difference he made in this world.
Having read all these wonderful, powerful messages honouring the visionary man who sat down and created Web Whispers, to help people like myself, I feel very humble indeed. There is a feeling of isolation hovering around the screen as I write, in the knowledge that his powerful voice and presence are not there, ever watchful, finding the flaws we thought might pass un-noticed, gently reproaching, and mischievous, and sometimes downright impatient like every good leader. As one, whose post-laryngectomy recovery he unstintingly encouraged, I feel an uncanny sense of loss, as of a close family friend.
I found Dutch's web site before it became WebWhispers and for quite some time was a "lurker" before actually joining and contributing. Dutch's unfailing patience, tolerance and good humor stands out as the measure of the man as much as anything. He really traded his fighter wings for angel wings long before his passing.
To Dutch's Caregivers, who have taken care of Dutch on his last journey on this earth. Words cannot express the thankfulness. I know there are no words to ease the pain, or fill the void, or heal the pain that you feel now. Nobody is ever prepared to let go of a loved one...
Dutch - they called your name - Put your toes on the cable and stand tall. you earned your place in those ranks! Well Done!
Rest in peace in the loving arms of God, you have earned your rest. You will forever be in our hearts and minds.
Since my laryngectomy in Dec. 2002, WebWhispers became the source of information (for the Philippine Laryngectomee Club) regarding laryngectomees and laryngeal cancer. I admired Dutch for his dedication and patience in maintaining the WebWhispers website. He became my inspiration to go on with my mission of helping other laryngectomees in this part of the world and I was able to reach out to more larys.
I am saddened to read of the passing of Lt. Col. Helms. Here in Iceland, my adjustment to the laryngectomee life was made easier because of his efforts.
It's amazing how your wondrous soul
has survived life's painful rides
But through it all you kept your rudder straight
and rose above the stormy skies
of life that gave you challenges
you almost could not beat.
But Dutch, ever the warrior
you would never allow defeat
The Leader and founder of Webwhispers has gone physically from this world towards Lord, but his presence and work will remain in our heart and mind, and what ever progress we will make towards the betterment of Laryngectomee in Pakistan or any part of world, will be linked with DUTCH.
DUTCH... Thank You... rest in peace...Good luck, God bless you and we love you.
Even though we never met he was always there the times I needed. Something special about him that every time we communicated I always ended up with an indescribable peace of mind.I know that his work is just beginning down here on earth.
I will never forget you. You have climbed higher than any fighter plane could ever reach. Be in peace, we all love you and know that you are still watching over us.
Friends: I never met him, like most of you, yet feel he is part of my life!
Dutch welcomed me to the group back about 7 yrs ago. I felt sort of out of place since I was NOT a lary, but do have a permanent trach. I found this site to be helpful in many, many ways. It helped me in the "down" times and in the "up" times. I'm sure he is looking down and smiling at all the wonderful emails. Also want to thank the very caring people who took Dutch in and cared for him until the end. What remarkably wonderful people they are.
Words can not express the great loss to us all,but there is one thing that we will all have and that is the memory of Dutch.
You have helped so many people by this fantastic web-site that you created. I came across webwhispers while searching for lary information in 2002, about 3 months after my laryngectomy. You have helped me to tons of information that has improved my quality of life and I have passed it along to other laryngectomees. My ENT and SLP look to me for information which I obtain from this site. I will always be grateful. Rest in peace good friend, you will always be remembered.
In deep grief I bring my sincere condolences to Dutch' family and to all of You who were happy to stand him near in work and inspiration and help him through his last days. We will miss him tremendously in Norway. also!
Thanks for your service to our country and to the thousands of us larys that have been able to cope so much better due to your assistance via the WW.
Just wanted to added my condolences. There is no doubt that the site and the articles written in Headlines contributed significantly to my rehabilitation. This is the most valuable
resource for any lary. Dutch's loss will be felt greatly throughout the lary community.
Longfellow must have been thinking about Dutch when he wrote:
"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time"
The footprints Dutch left will last for a long, long time!
Because of what Dutch started here I was able to learn so much about the life of lary's and in turn help my brother when he needed me most. We send our condolences and the following quote..appropriate for the man. "Death comes to all. But great achievements raise a monument which shall endure until the sun grows old."
I truly believe that this incredible man will be lodged in everyones heart and soul. He has been an inspiration, not only to lary community, but he has made people like me feel comfortable with even the the process of having cancer. "We will all see you later Dutch .......save us some room up there . " Smile down on your members!
As my husband and I celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, I am thinking how lucky we are to have each and every moment on this earth. And to have had along on this journey someone like Dutch who was there for us in one of our worst times of need. On Webwhispers we found answers, support, comfort, wisdom, strength and humor. If not for this site, our last four years would have been so much more difficult, confusing and lonely. It boggles the mind what his determination brought forth. A worldwide web of like individuals who are always there for each other.
A couple of lines from the chorus of a country music song:
“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go.”
We thank you, Dutch, because what you left behind for us was... each other.
Great people create things larger than themselves...this was Dutch.
Most of us have known Dutch for many years and we know the work he has done for his fellow Laryngectomees. His heart and soul was put into something that makes this man even greater then he could have imaged. Our loss of Dutch will be a void that will take years to mend but we must look forward and forge ahead, with him looking down upon us smiling (as he always did). And so I say good-bye to a dear friend, a fellow laryngectomee, a fellow master mason and a veteran of Viet Nam. Rest easy, sleep well. Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held. Peace, peace, and farewell my brother.
I never knew him on active duty for one reason: He was a Jet Jockey and I was a Marine. But I know that he covered us many a time in Viet Nam as our air support. I always liked to kid him that by doing that little job for us he was an honorary Marine (you would think I cussed him out by calling him a honorary Marine) but he loved it I know he did. So many wonderful words about this man, a pillar to all.
Thanks for all you did for us by giving us this beautiful Web Site. "Old Soldiers Never Die They Just Fade Away"
Dear Dutch, Farewell from your friends in Australia. You have been an inspiration to fellow Laryngectomees down under.
Goodbye; from a grateful Brit.
As a rookie WW member I find it difficult to express my deep emotions about Dutch. A man I never met or even corresponded with but someone who has given me the chance thru WW to get answers that I could not obtain anywhere else. Tears continue to stream down my face as I read all of your e-mails.
I have not been around for 3 months due to a stroke that occurred during surgery for a carotid artery bypass, prior to further throat cancer surgery. I cannot type or spell yet so I can only read letters if anyone should want to send one. It took me 1 hour to write this. I miss my friends here and was sorry to hear about Dutch's passing.
They sent me home from the hospital with a hole in my neck and the advice to contact my local ACS chapter to learn how to cope with lary living. However, the ACS and my ENT / SLP medical people could not advise me on how to make life's adjustments to lary living, a life they they didn't know since they had never experienced it. Needless to say, I was a very unknowing and scared individual - - left alone to find my way in a world I didn't know.. After several months of despair, I found Dutch and his WW website and the answers to the problems and adjustments of lary living. I found my support group and the crossover to a normal and productive life of a laryngectomee. My heartfelt condolences go out to Dutch's family and caregivers on the loss of a very special individual. I know that he can look down from the heavens above and know that his gift to the worldwide lary
community will always be there for larys like me and is in capable hands.
With a heavy heart I have read all the postings and I realize the English langauge does not have the words to express my deepest feelings for this Man, so I will simply say: Dutch, we all love you, thanks for everthing, and see you later.
I had the opportunity to dine with Dutch and his Friend at one of our conventions and for all of you who never met the man he is exactly what you all have written about him. He cared about everyone of us who carried the dragon and were learning to live a new life. He was always there to help us get through our anxiety. Remember, checking my mail at 2AM to see what Dutch had written regarding a problem someone was having. I thought to myself this man never sleeps. I have not been active in the club for many years because of my health but what I have seen and read from the "New Leaders" , Dutch did his job again in preparing them to take over the controls of WebWhispers. And you are doing a fantastic job. Dutch was a great man, a caring man, and a person who loved his country. His accomplishments in the United States Air Force were many. He is missed by them as well and he is missed in a special way by all the Veterans in this wonderful organization. Dutch, I'll miss you, our chats, but we will all be together again. God Bless you all. And to the care-givers of Dutch, thank you for all you done; your rewards will be plenty.
Very shortly after my Laryngectomy, I had the great privilege of contacting Dutch when his first laryngectomy site opened, and I became the first UK member among the first overall ten site members to join the group, Since then Dutch was a great source of help and knowledge to me for my UK Laryngectomy site, always willing to give assistance and advice. To me Dutch is irreplaceable and I shall always treasure his memory
After reading all the posts on Dutch's passing, finally I am ready to say good-bye and thanks. It took me awhile to stop crying when reading all the emails. Truly amazing how Dutch opened up my mail box and others. Just the looking forward to emails on WW on a daily basis and how that has touched my life and others. Never would I have believed how Proud I am to be a member of Webwhispers and Proud that Dutch was my Webmaster.
I have sat here the past few days reading all the mails about Dutch. I have to admit, there have been tears in my eyes and a very big lump in my throat. About one month before my operation, I stumbled onto Dutch's home page. Not an official club yet, but after reading and downloading everything he had on his site, I knew everything I needed to know to go into surgery; I would survive and even flourish afterward. Since that time, we have helped many more to flourish, with his guidance. Words are inadequate to describe my feelings for Dutch and of the acute loss of a wonderful man. Dutch was an unsung hero just doing his "job" as a Forward Air Controller during the Vietnam War, saving an unknown number of lives of troops in peril. Then, unselfishly, after contracting the "Big C", he devoted his time remaining toward helping others to transition from "got it" to "getting over it".
Rest in peace Dutch I know you will watch over us from your new home. Your loving and caring will go on through the people that you left in charge they have done and will continue to keep your dream alive. They have been a lot of help to me in a very short period of time thanks to everyone.
I came home from the hospital a lost soul, not knowing if I'd ever be able to communicate verbally again. My son bought me a computer, showed me how it operated, and left me to find my way in the world.. One of the first things I did was enter the search world looking for laryngectomy. Several hits were made, one of them with some guy called Dutch. I thought that sounded neat so I logged on to him. The luckiest day of my life.
God gives us life and he takes it away. Dutch was given to us as a teacher in life, let us rejoice him and celebrate the gift he gave us, courage, understanding, will to live, patience.
I hope his website will stay online forever. It's one way of remembering the great guy we know as Dutch. (Ed. note: There is a link to Dutch's personal website on the Founder's Page)
Pray for his eternal peace at Heaven, from all members of webwhispers around the world.
Mary Elizabeth Frye, an American, scribbled down a poem on a brown paper bag and offered it has comfort to a young German-jewish girl whose mother had just died, and she was unable to attend the funeral in Germany, this was in 1932. (From the UK. Poem was included.This poem has been displayed for several years now on our memorial page at:
http://www.webwhispers.org/about/inmemoriam.asp ) Have a good rest, Dutch, you sure earned it.
I'm so sad, and I grieve for Dutch, but the sorrow in my heart is for you 5. I know how close you were to Dutch and how much love he felt for you. Please be gentle with yourselves and know that he is one more member on your team in heaven.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for having known Dutch and having the opportunity to be a small part of his vision for Laryngectomees. My cup runneth over with gratitude and just wish I knew how to express it better.
He was/is an icon of the lary community. It was always an objective of mine to meet him and I am very disappointed that I will not be able to do that. I'm more than disappointed, I'm in one of those deep reflective moods where one tries to make sense of this existence.
I wish I could touch your heart and ease some of the grief I know you have for your special friend, David (Dutch) Helms, human being extra-ordinary!
God Bless Dutch and all the people that he touched.
I am so saddened by Dutch's passing. He was one great guy, and the outpouring of emotion on the maillist is tribute to it.
On behalf of The Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Nurses (SOHN) I would like to offer thoughts of caring and sympathy on Dutch's passing to all the WebWhispers family. We have all lost a beloved friend. He has left this world a much better place and has made a huge difference. We are so blessed to have him in our lives. I sent this note to Dutch after he announced his prognosis on the site:
“As you know, I have been a Registered Nurse for nearly fifty years, most of those spent with ENT and head and neck patients. I am privileged to have known the best nurses in this field, not only in this country, but in the world. I also have had the honor of knowing and working with many of the best and well-known otolaryngology doctors in the country. I can say, without a doubt, that they have made a significant impact on patients, but NO ONE has impacted the lives of laryngectomee patients like you have. You have done more than any of us in the profession and have touched more lives. I commend you and all the work you have done. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. You have made such a difference to people all over this wide world. I think I learned as much from Web Whispers as I learned from the dozens of text and reference I read. It is the best resource available to the laryngectomy and his family and caregivers. Thank you from me and all my nursing colleagues. You have our gratitude and our respect. What an inspiration you are dear friend. You live the way we all should, one day at a time, enjoying every minute. On behalf of SOHN and nurses everywhere Dutch, we thank you for all you have done for us and our patients. We hold you in our thoughts and honor you in our hearts".
Ann McKennis, RN, CNOR(E), CORLN
The Carelove Givers Pamm and Mike
To devote your life to another is the finest human dimension.
We’ve read and wrote a million words on Dutch,
To laud him for the pride which he so richly earned.
But these two gave that dimension that was much,
Beyond the reach of homilies. They coined
A gift of giving. Read the accolades we wrote;
Gave to him two hearts, a loving home.
That blessed sense to know that one belongs
And will not die apart from friends alone.
You sketched WEB WHISPERS growth and new life.
In those last days he knew he had attained his dreams.
And when you meet, when this life’s journey ends
God will seat you three with Kings and Queens.
~ Joseph Tully Ferran