Dr. Robert Norman Helton passed away on Dec. 31, with family by his side. Dr. Bob was raised in Waynesboro, Tennessee. He graduated from Peabody Demonstration High School in Nashville in 1946, and Vanderbilt University in 1950 as a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He attended the University of Tennessee Medical School, receiving his medical degree in 1954, and interned at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He was a flight surgeon for the 13th Air Force Task Force and Military Assistance and Advisory Group, stationed in Taiwan. In 1957, he was Chief Flight Surgeon at Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. On discharge in 1958, he became assistant surgeon on the passenger liner S.S. United States. He also served as physician for the task force setting up the Distant Early Warning Radar site on the Greenland icecap. 

In September 1958, Dr. Helton began a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley. He completed his residency at the University of California, San Francisco, where he met his wife, Nancy Jean Voich. Bob and Nancy married in 1962 and moved to Orange County, where they opened a medical practice in Garden Grove. They raised their family in Villa Park and were co-founders of the Villa Park Historical Society. In addition to delivering more than 4,000 babies, Dr. Helton was president of the Orange County OB-GYN Society, Chief of OB-GYN at Palm Harbor and St. Joseph’s Hospitals, and regional chairman of the American College of OB-GYN. He was a clinical professor of surgery at St. Joseph Hospital and at the University of California, Irvine Medical School for more than 35 years. 

He was active in community affairs and served as mayor of the City of Villa Park during his eight years on the city council. He was an active member of the Association of Naval Aviation and the Grampaw Pettibone Squadron, and served as a volunteer at the Chino Air Museum. 

Helton was preceded in death by his parents Hillard and Sallie Norman Helton, sister Norma Sue of Waynesboro, Tennessee, and his wife Nancy. He is survived by his children, Pamela Estes and her husband Ty of Garden Grove; Kimberly Melikian and her husband John of Woodland; and Robert Norman Helton, Jr. of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and his grandson, Parker Fritch, of Santa Barbara.  He is also survived by his brother Dan and wife Carol, his sister Sarah, family members in Tennessee, and friends nearby and around the world. Memorial donations may be sent to Yorba Linda United Methodist Church, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach or the Association of Naval Aviation.

Dr. Robert “Bob” Helton


February 2020