Woman's family will gather to celebrate 100th birthday

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant

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In honor of Helen Louise Herrera's 100th birthday Thursday, family and friends from around the country are gathering at her home in Vancouver for a family reunion.

Herrera was born Aug. 21, 1914, in El Paso, Texas. When she was 8, her mother took her and her siblings to live in Parral, Mexico, for two years. She was taking a shortcut home through the park when she heard gunshots. She witnessed the immediate aftermath of the assassination of a prominent Mexican Revolutionary general, José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, "Pancho Villa," on July 20, 1923. Soon after, her family moved to Los Angeles.

After high school Herrera met and married Hector Herrera. They were married 36 years and had six sons and one daughter before divorcing. Hector died in 2000.

She was a furniture salesperson at Macy's in Torrance, Calif., until she retired. Herrera enjoyed her clientele, which included Hollywood A-listers of the 1960s and '70s.

She has many grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Herrera was always happy when friends and family stopped by for a visit. Her grandchildren would leave her house with a gift she happened to have hidden somewhere.

Herrera lived alone in Torrance before moving to Vancouver to live with a granddaughter when she was 97.

She has received her Honorary Centennial 100th Happy Birthday letter from the White House.