Helen Huntalas (née Koutroulis), or “Baby Girl” as her birth certificate read, has gone home to her father, mother, brother and husband, all awaiting her in God’s kingdom. After more than 87 incredible years that saw her survive tests of will that would challenge any individual, this wondrous woman had the comfort and companionship of her friends and family around her in her final moments.
In Helen was a rare confluence of conscientiousness, classiness, integrity and intelligence. She served her communities throughout her life, working well into her eighties as a volunteer at Adventist Health Bakersfield’s gift shop. No one could tell Helen no. Her iron determination, quick wit, and keen business acumen — not to mention her radiant olive skin and cascading curls — brought her success in the roles she took on in the world, managing Helen’s and Koutroulis Department Store, working at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, volunteering at the Tehachapi Flower Shop and Tehachapi Unified School District (Go Warriors!), serving organizations like the Bakersfield Republican Women, the Order of the Eastern Star, and the St. George Greek Orthodox Ladies’ Philoptochos Society.
Although Helen was all these, she was also generous, indomitable, interminably sweet — willing to give everything she had for those most dear to her, her husband of nearly 64 years, who called her “Guggi,” as well as her nieces and nephews, her “sugar dollies,” called so because she would go to any lengths to ensure those she cared about had their cake (and ate it too).
Her Greek pastries were unparalleled, and her love was as rich as her dotingly crafted custard. A woman with a hawk’s eye for quality, Helen was a super shopper with refined tastes, and it showed in the grace and glamour with which she presented herself. Despite this nose for quality, she found joy in the simplest pleasures: hugs, lunch dates, and strawberry ice cream.
Preceded in her journey to Heaven by her parents, Vasiliki (Bessie) and Constantine (Gus) Koutroulis, the love of her life and her husband, Gus, and her brother, George, she is survived by her sisters-in-law, Loula Koutroulis and Katherine Skandale, her nieces and nephews, Suzanne and Doug Hutchison, Deno and Anthea Koutroulis, Elizabeth and Helen Skandale, and numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews, who all will remember her for her incomparable humor, unfathomable kindness, and strength of character.
Trisagion to honor her memory was held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Friday, May 8, at 7 p.m. Funeral service was held Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m with graveside following at Greenlawn Cemetery Northeast, River Blvd. Sadly, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, all services were limited to immediate family members only; however, the services were live-streamed from the St. George Orthodox Christian Church of Bakersfield Facebook Live link. A celebration of life will also be planned for a future date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Helen Huntalas Memorial Fund at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.