Robert Leland Hellewell

Robert Leland Hellewell

October 07, 1941 - December 23, 2023

Robert Leland Hellewell

October 07, 1941 - December 23, 2023


Skip Hellewell

Robert “Skip” Leland Hellewell died December 23, 2023, just two days after being diagnosed with acute leukemia. When the doctor somberly informed him of his terminal diagnosis, Skip smiled and said, “It’s been a really great ride!” He wasn’t kidding.

The ride started October 7, 1941, in Sacramento, California where Skip spent his early years with his loving parents, Robert and Nina Hellewell, and nine siblings. At a young age his grandmother called him the “Skipper,” a nickname that stuck with him his entire life. He participated in Boy Scouts, was on the cross-country team and graduated from La Sierra High School in Sacramento. Some of Skip’s fondest memories were of time spent at the family cabin in Baxter, California. He attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, receiving a degree in mechanical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Skip met the love of his life, Clare Anne Huber, while she was a student at BYU. Skip and Clare were married in 1967 and moved to Southern California where they raised their six children. This year was their 57th wedding anniversary.

Skip spent his career as a biomedical engineer, including a stint at a successful start-up medical device company. He retired at age 55, but never quite grasped the traditional concept of retirement, reinventing himself as a “by-the-sea” author. He spent the next 25 years, in his own words, “entertaining grandchildren and writing on topics of interest.” Writing projects included: Loving Laguna, A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach; Zion by the Sea, the history of the Laguna Beach Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Midway to Heaven, a biography of his father-in-law; and I Love You Truly, The Lessons of Our Lives, a family history. He contributed nearly 300 columns to the Laguna Beach Independent newspaper and authored a popular nutrition blog, He loved Laguna Beach, its people, and its quirkiness. At the time of his death, he was working on the 100-year history of his beloved Three Arch Bay community.

A lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Skip served as a full-time missionary in Central America where he remained lifelong friends with the people he taught and served. For many years he served as scoutmaster, helping dozens of young men achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. He served twice as a bishop and loved his work as ward and stake historian.

Skip struck many as quite serious, but a playful sense of humor lurked just beneath the surface. For the several hundred Boy Scouts at Camp Anza in 1983, who reported Bigfoot sightings, that was just Skip running around at night dressed in a full-length gorilla costume. He loved making fake cakes out of cardboard, elaborately decorating them with icing and delivering them to unsuspecting friends. Other practical jokes featured complicated mechanical contraptions, drawn from his engineering knowledge.

Frugality was a fundamental part of Skip’s nature. He washed out and reused plastic garbage and sandwich bags (“Look, good as new!”), refused to buy a gas or electric powered lawnmower (“This manual one works just fine!”) and never bought a new car (“Loses 20 percent of its value the minute you drive off the lot!”). He lived a life of self-sufficiency, repairing his own vehicles, doing his own painting and plumbing, and was in the process of repairing his roof just before his diagnosis.

If Skip coveted anything, it was more knowledge. He was a voracious reader driven by an intense, lifelong curiosity. His greatest treasures were his family, church, and friends. He was a hard worker, loved researching and writing, and never met a historical site or marker he didn’t like. He maintained a large network of friends and acquaintances, loved striking up conversations with strangers, and making new friends. His wish was to pass down the values and lessons learned in his life to his family and the rising generation.

Skip is survived by his wife, Clare Anne Huber Hellewell, children, Rob (Kristen Crapo) Hellewell, Amy (Kriss Garcia) Hellewell, Mark (Kristen Petersen) Hellewell, Brooke (John) Hellewell Reynolds, Matt (Carrie Russon) Hellewell and April (David) Hellewell Dickson, grandchildren, Anne Hellewell, Elizabeth (Jack) Hellewell Cutler, James Hellewell, Matthew Hellewell, Stephen Hellewell; Karli (Monty) Garcia Sternberg, Michael (Kamber) Garcia, Emily Garcia; John Hellewell, Nathan Hellewell, Lauren Hellewell, Hayden Hellewell, Kate Hellewell; Cash Reynolds, Ruby Reynolds, Maggie Reynolds, Charles Reynolds; Roxie Hellewell, Peter Hellewell, Violet Hellewell; Lincoln Dickson, Rhett Dickson and Scout Dickson, and great-grandchildren, Saige Sternberg, Luke Sternberg and Elena Garcia.

Skip is also survived by nine siblings, Sandra (Dan Miller) Marsh, Penny (Dave) Wilkinson, Linda (Mark) Miller, Vicki (Brent) Garfield, Cynthia (Kevin) Hylton, Rick (Pam) Hellewell, Stephen Hellewell, Randy Hellewell, and David (Michele) Hellewell.

The funeral in Skip’s honor will be celebrated on January 6, 2024 at 10am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 682 Park Avenue, Laguna Beach.

Flowers can be sent to the Hellewell home, or to O’Connor Mortuary at 25301 Alicia Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.


Funeral Service

  • Date & Time: January 6, 2024 (10:00 AM)
  • Venue: Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints - Laguna Beach
  • Location: 682 Park Avenue Laguna Beach, CA 92651 - (Get Directions)

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1 responses to Robert Leland Hellewell

  1. With my deepest condolences to your whole family on this great loss of Robert Leland Hellewell. He sounds like such a wonderful man. I am praying for you.

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