Meet Helen Steiner Rice
Acclaimed as America’s beloved inspirational poet laureate, Helen Steiner Rice has encouraged millions of people through her sensitive, loving verse. The grace, simplicity, and faith radiating from her poetry echo the deepest yearnings of every Christian who seeks a deeper relationship with God. But what in the life of Helen inspired the verse that touched the world’s heart?
Some answers to this intriguing question are found in Ronald Pollitt and Virginia Wiltse’s compelling biography, Helen Steiner Rice: Ambassador of Sunshine. Born in Lorain, Ohio, on May 19, 1900, Helen was the talented daughter of a railroad man and an accomplished seamstress, who nurtured her faith in God and her love for Scripture. Her grandmother also encouraged her to rely on the Lord. Helen’s belief sustained her during her long, eventful life, which was punctuated by tragedy.
The death of her father during the 1918 flu epidemic devastated young Helen, but it also launched her on the trail to becoming a major figure in the fields of public relations and advertising. After her father’s death, Helen obtained a position as a window trimmer for a public utilities company and rose through the ranks to become one of the few female advertising managers in the country. In January 1929, she married banker Franklin Rice, scion of a wealthy Ohio family. The first few months of their marriage were idyllic, but tragedy struck when the stock market crashed in October. The couple suffered a severe financial reversal, and Franklin lost his job. As the debts mounted, Helen decided to accept a position with Gibson Art Company in Cincinnati. Her new job made it necessary for her to leave Franklin at home during the week and return to their house on the weekends. Franklin sunk into a deep depression from which he never fully recovered. He committed suicide four years after they were married. The death of her husband was one of many dark moments Helen experienced during her life. She acknowledged that her suffering not only brought her into close communion with God, but softened her heart to the pain of others. The seeds of her sorrow gave birth to some of her most uplifting verses, as well as helped her to appreciate more intensely God’s abundant blessings.
Now nearly 20 years after her death, Helen’s poetry still speaks powerfully to the hearts of millions about love and loss, faith and hope, sadness and joy. Helen believed that she and her many admirers were linked in "a human chain of love" around the world—a chain that remains unbroken to this day.