Helen White picture

Helen White


Diamond, Ohio

As a child, Helen White lived an enchanted cottage along the Hudson River, filled with music, books, poetry, and beautiful old things. Later, when Helen married and moved to a wooded property outside of Diamond Ohio, she and her husband, Larry, began building an enchanted home of their own. Over the course of many years, they acquired additional acreage, constructed both the main house and several outbuildings, and lovingly shaped the land into a park, with accessible pathways, secluded nooks, and picnic areas.

Larry passed away in 2017. Shortly before that, however, the couple began looking for an organization to whom they could entrust their beloved property. Then, one day, a few months after Larry passed, a friend called and suggested Franciscan University.

“I hung up the phone, and the hair on my arms stood up,” Helen recalls. “I felt like the Holy Spirit had visited me!”

In 2018, Franciscan University accepted the gift of both the land and White’s estate, which will allow Franciscan to maintain the property in perpetuity and use it as a retreat center for students.

Since then, Helen says her relationship with Franciscan University has been “nothing but pure gold,” and although she will continue living on the property for the foreseeable future, she is already opening it up to student organizations for retreats.

“All of this happened so fast, but it’s just a wonderful match,” she says. “I met some of the students on retreat this last fall. I am in awe of their Christ-like love, genuine warmth of spirit, and humbleness of heart. I am so very blessed to have the chance to get to know them and welcome them to their new home!”