Helm Roberts: August 1931 - August 2011
Like so many others I was saddened by the news of Helm's death. Helm was not only a friend and colleague, he was a great resource for any aspiring architect or engineer. Whenever I had a question regarding architecture I knew I could count on Helm for a helping hand. He had an easy way about him and a command of knowledge that assured you of his expertise. He would offer his critique and if you went completely off course he would kindly nudge you back in the right direction. He worked tirelessly to help others, an attribute that was reflected so many times in his architecture and designs.
Helm will be remembered by most people for his design of the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is a masterpiece of design, mathematics, history, honor and beauty, a project that Helm considered a labor of love. The memorial is also a tribute to the 125,000 Kentuckians who served in Vietnam. From the time the General assembly authorized the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial on March 23, 1984 to the memorial's dedication on November 7, 1987 and through the years that followed, Helm remained active throughout his long career with the memorial that has been visited and enjoyed by countless people and dignitaries from around the world. Throughout the history of the memorial Helm often hosted groups of students and veterans answering questions about the memorial. The memorial attracts a large number of visitors and is second only to the state capital in attendance.
Helm was a champion from the 60's of the citizens of Lexington and Kentucky. He helped preserve a large portion of Lexington's green spaces and define Lexington's urban service boundaries. Whenever a boundary was challenged by a developer Helm would go to City Hall and fight to keep those boundaries in place. He was also a key player in the master plan that removed the railroad tracks from downtown Lexington. Helm designed homes, retirement villages, apartment complexes, developed subdivisions and the planning of over thirty military bases. A recipient of numerous awards and citations, Helm was a true leader in his profession.
As a former Naval Aviator, Helm flew the Douglas AD Skyraiders while attached to the Carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Whenever I'm enjoying a sunny day and I see a long shadow, I will think of my friend Helm, the man that made shadow casting an art.