Lt. Col. Tony Andrew Helms, 74, of Salisbury, passed away Thursday, April 20, 2017. He was born June 27, 1942, in Cabarrus County, NC, to the late William Andrew Helms and Faye Parrish Helms Lingle.
Lt. Col. Helms graduated from East Rowan High School as part of the first graduating class and obtained his Bachelor's degree in History from East Tennessee State University. He furthered his education at North Carolina A&T University where he received his Master's degree in Public School Administration and later with UNC's Principals Executive Management Program.
A Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. Col. Helms served his country for over 28 years. He served three tours of duty in Vietnam during which he served as helicopter crew chief and fixed-wing aviation Ordnanceman. Due to his service and sacrifice in Vietnam, Lt. Col. Helms received a Purple Heart. He was also the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Medal, Presidential Unit Commendation, Navy Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, and Meritorious Unit Citation.
Following his service, Lt. Col. Helms worked in public education for 30 years, working in Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Iredell-Statesville Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and most recently with Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center.
Lt. Col. Helms was a longtime Mason, having a lifetime membership in Kintai Lodge No. 16 in Japan and locally at Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 576. He enjoyed camping and playing golf, loved his family and grandchildren and his English Bulldogs, Sadie and Captain.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his step-father who helped raise him, Earl Lingle, wife, Judy Williams Helms, and brother-in-law, William J. McEwen.
Survivors include his children, Jonathan Andrew Helms of Salisbury, Jennifer Helms Shermer (Brad) of Salisbury, Julie Eileen Helms (Todd Christian), of Asheville, Kristi Helms Stewart (James) of Salisbury, and Grace Alexandria Lanagan of Winston-Salem, twin-sister, Tonita Ann McEwen of Wilmington, brother, Dr. William Earl "Buddy" Lingle, Jr. (Deborah) of High Point, grandchildren, Joshua Andrew Helms-Shermer (Lindsay), Christopher Neil Coughenour, Andrew Lee Coughenour (Hannah), Hunter Gray Helms, Taylor Eileen Livengood (Zack), Jonathan Cody Stewart, Miranda Nicole Helms, and Garrett Bradley Shermer, four great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 PM Friday, April 28, 2017, at Powles Staton Funeral Home in Rockwell.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Granite Quarry. Interment will follow in the church cemetery with full Military Rites.
Memorials may be made to the Purple Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 49, Annadale, VA 22003 or Communities in Schools-Rowan, 204 E. Innes Street, Salisbury, NC 28144
Powles Staton Funeral Home is assisting the Helms family. Online condolences may be made at www.powlesfuneralhome.com.