Helen Stroud Hamilton, 93, of Holland, Bucks County, a faculty member of the former Philadelphia College of Art and a children's book illustrator, died of cardiopulmonary arrest Saturday, Nov. 22, at Twining Village.
Mrs. Hamilton created the drawings for the Happy Hollisters books, a 33-title series about a family who enjoyed solving mysteries. The author was Andrew E. Svenson under the pseudonym Jerry West.
The imaginary family of two adults, five children, a cat, dog, and burro took shape in Mrs. Hamilton's brightly colored, whimsical drawings. But she didn't just illustrate books; she also created watercolor paintings, collages, lithograph prints, and woven art.
Her prints were exhibited at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Carnegie Institute, and the Brooklyn Museum. One is on permanent display at the Library of Congress.
Born in 1921, Mrs. Hamilton grew up in Roxborough. As a girl, she traveled widely in Europe and North America. She graduated from Germantown Friends School and Wellesley College, where she won the traditional hoop-rolling race in her senior year.
After college, she taught color and design classes at the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts. While teaching, she met William Henry Hamilton, also an artist. They married in 1950.
Soon after, she was selected to illustrate a new children's book series being produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, publishers of Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys. The first Happy Hollisters book appeared in 1953.
Her work also was included in books and magazines published by Prentice-Hall, Doubleday, Lippincott, Charles Merrill, and others.
She and her husband worked together on projects in their Conshohocken home. She was at home working but still available to her children.
"She was a wonderful mother, the best you can imagine - incredible and inspiring," said her daughter Faith H. Gowan. "We've all gone into the creative arts."
While raising a family, the Hamiltons became involved in community issues. Together with a small group of progressive neighbors, they published and distributed a newsletter, the Alert, to inform residents about local political matters.
The group pushed for a public library in Whitemarsh Township, and, as a result, the William Jeanes Memorial Library was established in memory of a local Quaker farmer famous for never missing a Sunday Friends meeting.
The couple moved in 1993 to Stuart, Fla., but returned in 2000 to Pennsylvania. They settled at Twining Village. After her husband died 12 years ago, Mrs. Hamilton taught weaving, her family said, and wove vibrant tapestries until the day before she died.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Hamilton is survived by two other daughters, Kate S. and Liz H. Appelson; a son, Andrew S.; and eight grandchildren.
Plans for a memorial were pending.
Contributions may be made to the Fleisher Art Memorial, Attn: Melissa Phegley, 719 Catharine St., Philadelphia 19147.