Paul Helms

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Paul Helms
Paul Helms.jpg
Born (1889-09-19)September 19, 1889
Ottawa, Kansas
Died January 5, 1957(1957-01-05) (aged 67)
Palm Springs, California
Nationality American
Occupation Baking industry executive, sports philanthropist
Known for Helms Bakery, Helms Athletic Foundation

Paul Hoy Helms (September 19, 1889 – January 5, 1957) was an American executive in the baking industry and sports philanthropist. He founded the Helms Bakery in 1931 and the Helms Athletic Foundation with Bill Schroeder in 1936.

Early life[edit]

Birth and parents[edit]

Helms was born in Ottawa, Kansas. His father, Rev. Dr. Elmer Ellsworth Helms, a Methodist Minister, married Ora Ella Hoy on July 26, 1888. His mother died on May 12, 1893, during childbirth when he was three years old.

Uncle William E. "Dummy" Hoy[edit]

Upon the death of his mother, his father sent Paul to move in with his maternal uncle, William E. "Dummy" Hoy. (Hoy was a deaf-mute and a Major League Baseball player who played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He led the team during the 1901 Chicago White Stockings season to win the AL pennant.[citation needed]) Helms lived on his uncle's dairy farm in Mount Healthy, Ohio, outside Cincinnati, with his aunt Anna Maria (who was also deaf) and their six children.


Helms attended school in Buffalo, New York and then matriculated at Syracuse University, where he was a coxswain on the crew team. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1912.[1]


Early career[edit]

After graduating from Syracuse in 1912, Helms began working as a life insurance agent in Pennsylvania, where he met and married Pearl Ellis. After two years, they moved to New York, where Helms started a small bakery taking it from one route to 200. In 1926 at the age of 37, he was forced to retire from his bakery business due to poor health. In 1928 he moved his family to Los Angeles, where he stated, "within a few months, I was itching to get back to work."[2]

Helms Bakery[edit]

On March 2, 1931, Helms opened Helms Bakery at the corner of Venice and Washington in Los Angeles County. He employed 32 people and owned 11 trucks,[3] referred to as coaches. The Twincoach Helm's bakery truck, with its recognized two-tone custom paint job, is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.[4] The building, and Helms' actual desk, straddles the city line between Culver City and Los Angeles.[5]

Business operations[edit]

Helms Bakery was an enormous operation. It was at its height in the 1950s with 950 sales routes as far north as Fresno and as south as San Diego. The list of baked goods topped 150 items and he had 1,850 employees. Helms Bakeries were turning out more than a million loaves of bread a day, all home-delivered by the Helms Bakery trucks. In addition to the breads, doughnuts and pastries, Helms delivered about 150 custom-made wedding and birthday cakes a week.[2]

"Olympic Games Bakers – Choice of Olympic Champions"[edit]

In 1932, Los Angeles was the host city for the Summer Olympics. Helms won a first-of-its-kind contract to supply the breads to be served at the men's Olympic Village in Baldwin Park. Four years later, in time for the 1936 Summer Olympics, Germany asked Helms for his bread recipes to feed to the German Olympic team. His relationship with Olympians continued in later years; the U.S. teams at London and Helsinki requested his bread be served.[6]

He incorporated the idea of the Official Olympic Bread into his company logo, placed on his factory signs[7] and painted it on all of his coaches. His slogan was "Olympic Games Bakers – Choice of Olympic Champions".[8]

"The First Bread on the Moon"[edit]

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 had liftoff to make the first moon landing and then return to earth as per President Kenndey's objective.[9] The company secured a contract to furnish bread for the mission, making Helms baked goods "The First Bread on the Moon".[8]

Helms Bakery closes[edit]

Helms Bakery closed its doors in 1969, five months after Helms bread landed on the moon.[2]

Palm Springs[edit]

Committee of Twenty-Five[edit]

Helms was a regular visitor of Palm Springs, California and owned a second-residence at Smoke Tree Ranch. In 1948 Helms and other influential permanent and winter residents formed The Committee of Twenty-Five to promote civic activities in Palm Springs. Other members included Asa V. Call, President of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co., LeGrand Simson DeGraff, Chairman of Marine Trust Co., Lawrence Mario Giannini, President of Bank of America, Neil C. Jamison, President of Jamison Mill Company, and Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr., President of S.C. Johnson & Son.[10]

President Eisenhower Visit[edit]

In February 1954, Helms, in keeping with the goals of the Committee of Twenty-Five, hosted President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the First-Lady for a seven-day vacation at his private residence in Smoke Tree Ranch. The President was met by California Governor Goodwin Knight and Palm Springs Mayor Florian Boyd.[11] During Eisenhower's stay the Helms Smoke Tree Ranch residence became the Western White House.[12]

Philanthropy and interests[edit]

Helms Athletic Foundation[edit]

Helms and Bill Schroeder founded the Helms Athletic Foundation on October 15, 1936.[13] Helms stated, "This foundation is dedicated to the boys and girls of the finest nation in the world." In the 1904–05 season it selected the Helms Foundation College Basketball Player of the Year but ceased giving the award after Larry Bird during the 1978–79 season.[14]

The organization existed until 1982 and ran a panel of sports experts to make selections for All-America teams and national championships in college football and college basketball. When the Helms Athletic Foundation dissolved, its historical holdings were absorbed into the collection of the Amateur Athletic Foundation, renamed the LA84 Foundation in 2007.

Helms Hall[edit]

Helms provided the funding needed to operate Helms Hall. It was, as described by its sports museum's Managing Director William R. Schroeder, "housing the most complete collection of trophies, awards, sports mementos, photographs in the world" and "the most complete sports library in the world."[6] The collection included the shoes Jessie Owens used to break three world records and tie another in 1935. It holds the largest collection of medals from shot putter Parry O'Brien and the football Coach John Heisman of Georgia Institute of Technology used to defeat Cumberland University 222 to 0 in the 1916 Cumberland vs. Georgia Tech football game. The archivist, sports librarian and record keepers answer sports questions from around the country. It possesses the last uniform worn by Babe Ruth, the one he wore as a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938 and a torch used to start the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin."[6]

The Foundation funded the construction of Helms Hall for the administration and preservation of the foundation's growing sport collection. In 1948 Helms constructed a new building located at 8760 Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. To house the sports collection, Helms Hall was built in three phases. The first phase of the two-story building was completed on October 18, 1948, at cost of more than $125,000. On November 28, 1949, a building addition completed the second phase at the cost of $150,000. The third phase addition cost in excess of $150,000.[13]

Fund for Adult Education (FAE)[edit]

Helms served on the Board of Directors of the Fund for Adult Education (FAE) at Syracuse University for six years from its founding to his death (1951–1957). As a tribute to his service and support the FAE provide a grant to create the Paul Hoy Helms Library in Liberal Adult Education. The collection was composed of books selected by faculty and staff over the fifteen years that the grant existed. The collection is currently stored in the Ernest S. Bird Library on campus.[1]

In referring to the Helms Library collection the 1967 Chancellor, Dr. William Pearson Tolley, stated, "I know of no other library project at Syracuse that has enlisted the continuing interest and assistance of so many members of the faculty and staff."[1]

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum "Court of Honor"[edit]

For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, Helms was honored in 1956 with a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum "Court of Honor" plaque by the Coliseum commissioners.


Helms died of cancer at age 67, on January 5, 1957, at his Smoke Tree Ranch home.[15] He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, on The Great Mausoleum, Holly Terrace, the Sanctuary of Celestial Peace, Mausoleum Crypt 13304.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Charters, Alexander N. "Paul Hoy Helms Library in Liberal Education" (PDF). Syracuse University. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Rasmussen, Cecilia (October 17, 1994). "Helms Man Always Delivered The Goods". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Lyon Museum Helms Bakery Truck". Lyon Museum. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Petersen Automotive Museum – Classic Life". Custom Classic Trucks. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ William-Ross, Lindsay. "The Helms Bakery Coaches". LAistory. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Jares, Joe (September 7, 1970). "A Baker's Dream Needs Dough". Sports illustrated.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Jares_1970" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ "GlamAmor at the Helms Design District Vintage Boutique on Saturday!". GLAMAMOR. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Hoy-Hermenet Web Site". Hoy-Hermenet Home Page. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Apollo 11". NASA. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ Wheeler, Geo. O. (November 1, 1948). "Committee of Twenty-Five". Palm Springs Villager. IV. III: 24. 
  11. ^ Bush, Keith (February 204). "We Still Like Ike". Palm Springs Life. Retrieved 28 May 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Bogert, Frank (1987). Palm Springs First Hundred Years. Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Heritage Associates. p. 167. ISBN 0-9618729-0-X. 
  13. ^ a b "Helms Athletic Foundation" (PDF). Olympic Information Center – Olympic Review: 26–28. 1951. Retrieved May 29, 2012.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Helms1951" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^ "Helms Foundation Player of the Year Winners". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ UP (January 6, 1957). "PAUL HELMS DEAD; NOTED SPORTSMAN; Millionaire Baker Who Set Up Coast Athletic Foundation Aided Many U.S. Stars Backed Olympic Games Host to President". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ Paul Hoy Helms at Find a Grave

External links[edit]