Helen Adele Elizabeth van Loben Sels Chamberlin

Date of Birth

April 19, 1906

Date of Death

August 16, 2008

City of Death

Los Olivos

Helen Adele Elizabeth van Loben Sels Chamberlin, known as Ailie to friends and family, passed from her life at age 102. She was a resident of Los Olivos, California for 75 years.

Ailie died Saturday evening, August 16, 2008, in her home on Rancho Los Potreros in Los Olivos.

She was born April 19, 1906 in Oakland California, the day after the historic earthquake.

Ailie’s nickname came about because she was known by her initials, H.A.E. to differentiate her from her mother and Grandmother, both Helen. A younger sibling was unable to pronounce H.A.E., so she became Ailie. She was the eldest of seven children.

She graduated from Stanford University in 1929 with a degree in Biology. The next year she earned her Masters at Cornell University in Entomology

In 1933 she arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley in order to teach Biology and Girl’s PE at the local high school. She met her future husband, Theodore Chamberlin, Jr., a local cattle rancher who was on the school board of trustees. They were married March 7, 1935 at her parent’s home, Amistad, in Courtland, California.

They took up residence on Ted’s Rancho Los Potreros, which he had purchased in 1929. Ted was from a prominent California ranching family

Ted and Ailie had seven children. Two passed away at a very young age. Their eldest child Anne was born in January 1936 and passed away in 1937 shortly after Helen was born. Helen’s birth in October 1937 was swiftly followed by that of Fred, Willy, Debi and Mike. Mike passed away at age 6 in 1952. Sarah was born shortly thereafter.

Ailie was actively involved in assisting her husband with the ranch.

Ailie was active with many organizations over her long life span. Among many of her honors Ailie was the Grand Marshall for the annual Los Olivos Day in the Country Parade in 1985. Declining to ride on the back of a convertible she led the parade on a rented elephant. In July of this year the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society honored her for being a Valley Pioneer.

She is survived by her children Fred and his wife Johanna Chamberlin of Los Olivos: by Willy Chamberlin of Los Olivos; by Deb O’Brien of Richmond CA: and by Sarah Chamberlin and her husband Benjamin Bottoms of Los Olivos.

Ailie is survived by 7 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband Ted Chamberlin in 1978: by her children Anne 1937, Mike, 1952, Helen C. Heyden in 2002 and by her granddaughter Beth Chamberlin in 2004.

Ailie was the eldest of seven children all of whom predeceased her.

Memorial Services and a Celebration of her Long Life will be held at the SYV Presbyterian Church in Ballard at 2 pm on Saturday, September 13 immediately followed by a barbeque at the family ranch 3 miles north of Los Olivos on Figueroa Mountain Road. The family would like you to be comfortably dressed for a ranch meadow barbeque where there will be an opportunity for family and friends to share experiences with Ailie.

In her honor memorial funds have been set up at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society, PO Box 181, Santa Ynez 93460; The Santa Barbara County Cattlewomen, c/o Gerry Campbell, treas. 2350 East Hwy 246 Lompoc 93436; and the Santa Ynez Valley Chorale, P.O. Box 1902 Santa Ynez 93460

She was a grand lady who made a big impact in all of our lives. She loved family, horses and riding, and all forms of nature, especially wildflowers. She could name them all. She will be missed.


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