After several years, Helen left her job as the utilities' spokeswoman and opened her own speaker's bureau. Her positive outlook and enthusiasm for her work made her a popular motivational speaker. Her speeches won newspaper acclaim and prompted additional bookings.
In 1928, one of those bookings took her to Dayton, Ohio, where she met a wealthy young banker, Franklin Rice. Rice won Helen's heart and hand, and the two were married in January 1929. In October of that same year the New York Stock Market crashed. Franklin Rice lost all his assets in the crash and, shortly thereafter, his bank closed and he lost his job as well. His financial ruin drove him into a deep depression.
Helen tried to offset the disaster by returning to work herself. In 1931 she was offered a job by the Gibson Art Company in Cincinnati. She became their troubleshooter, visiting their greeting card installations and making recommendations on how to improve sales. She was so successful and her outlook so cheerful that one colleague christened her Gibson's "Ambassador of Sunshine". Helen was able to improve the family financial situation, but she was unable to improve her husband's state of mind. In October 1932, while she was at work in Cincinnati, he committed suicide leaving her a widow at the age of 32.
After Franklin Rice's death, Helen decided to stay in Cincinnati and continue her work with Gibson Art. She paid off the family's debts, made friends, and involved herself in the city's cultural and civic life. When the greeting card editor at Gibson died suddenly in the mid-1930s, Helen took over the job. It was a position she held for more than forty years.
Even in those early years at Gibson, Helen perceived a need for greeting cards that would inspire others. She was told that the market favored lighter, more humorous sentiments, however, so that was what she produced. There were occasional exceptions to that rule. At the time of her mother's death in the mid-1940s, for example, she penned a condolence verse, "When I Must Leave You," that became a popular sympathy card. In the evenings at home, meanwhile, she began to write inspirational verses to friends and co-workers and to enclose them in personal notes and letters. These reflected her growing and deepening faith in God. Her rhymed Christmas cards became a tradition and family and friends anticipated this annual spiritual message. In the 1950s, Helen's talent for putting inspirational messages into verse prompted the vice-president at Gibson to approach her about signing some of her verses for use on cards.
© 2009-2015 Helen Steiner Rice Foundation Fund, LLC