Maureen Helt, former Aspen Valley Board Member:
The sudden loss of my brother Frank was the abrupt end of a life that was flourishing. A life so full of love and compassion, adventure, and promise suddenly cut short by a massive heart attack. He was 56 years old. Frank was not only a brother, he was a husband, a father, a son, a nephew, and a friend. He has six beautiful children and a wonderful wife who he started dating when he was just 17. A true fairy tale romance. Frank was also an animal lover and whenever he saw an orphaned animal or an animal in distress he would take it in and nurse it back to health. It all started when he was a boy with Raquel the orphaned baby raccoon. His heart was full of joy when he shared companionship with his four legged friend. Throughout his life he shared his enthusiasm and respect for animals with his kids and over the years brought in different neglected, injured or abandoned animals at the drop of a hat. Frank believed that we should help nurture and care for injured and orphaned animals and give them a chance at life. If he could help he would. It is for this reason that Frank’s family and friends have set up the Frank A. Helt Memorial Fund to support the baby nursery at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in honour of Frank and his love of animals.
Frank found this orphaned raccoon when she could fit in the palm of his hand, eyes closed and no hair. His parents, physicians and animal lovers themselves, allowed Frank to keep the little baby (this was in 1967 and wildlife rehabilitation was not available at that time) and take care of it. They didn’t know if it was a squirrel, a rat, or a raccoon. They used blankets and a dropper to feed her. Frank called her Raquel and he was able to nurse her through the critical first few months. The picture is of Frank with Raquel at a few months old.