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04 January 2007 @ 04:50 pm
Darker World  
I got some awful, awful news today. Last night, Helen Hill was murdered in her home. Her husband, Paul Gailiunas, was shot, but will recover. Their son, Francis Pop, was physically unharmed, though I imagine he will carry the scar of this with him for the rest of his life.

The first Times-Picayune account reads:

In the sixth murder New Orleans murder in less than a day, a woman was killed and her husband shot in their home this morning at about 5:30 a.m., said New Orleans police, who found the bleeding husband kneeling at the door of the couple's home, holding their two-year-old son in his arms.

The toddler was not hurt; the husband, 35, underwent surgery at Elmwood/Charity Trauma Center, police said, where his son was also taken for examination. The woman, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene.


-- At 5:30 a.m. Thursday, police were called to the Rampart Street killing. Neighbors of the couple later identified them as Helen Hill and Paul Gailiunas, a married couple who first came to the city more than a decade ago, and just moved back in August after a post-Katrina exile in South Carolina. The neighbors said Gailiunas was a doctor and Hill a freelance animator and filmmaker.

I met Paul and Helen a little over three years ago, at Honey's 80th birthday party. I have rarely seen two people so perfectly suited to each other. They always smiled and were so amazingly upbeat, all the time. Like everyone who knew them, I'm sure, I loved being around them.

I'd heard of Helen before I met her. She was an animator and would occasionally hold workshops to empower people in her art. I almost attended one, but then didn't for some reason.

Since they moved back to New Orleans, I've enjoyed seeing them at our monthly vegan potlucks. Here they are from our October get-together.

Paul, Francis and Helen at the October vegan potluck

Helen was, like Paul is, a very bright, warm light. Even with the sun still hanging in the sky today, it's a noticeably darker world without her in it.

I am deeply saddened by Helen's death and the violence done to their sweet family. Even sadder is the fact that this incident is not isolated. So many families are hurting in this city in exactly the same way. The violence here is deeply troubling to me. We simply must find a way to stop it.

Helen, I will miss you very much. Paul and Francis, you are both in my heart and thoughts.
retcretc on January 4th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
So terribly sorry
You are certainly correct about our dear city.
Wish I knew the answers.
(Deleted comment)
fieldsofgarlicfieldsofgarlic on January 5th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
I don't know of any donations effort yet, but I'll let you know if I hear of anything. Thanks.

BTW, the cover of the Times-Picayune is very depressing today:

The Infinite Goof: greenytoastkittymonkey on January 5th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
This news has stunned Justin and I. Helen was such a darling lady, and so inspiring. That this could happen to their wonderful family is unreal.

zeldakitty: mini-mezeldakitty on January 5th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
it's getting rougher and rougher.
the_rocketdyke on January 5th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
I still can't believe it.
A lot of us all over the world are in shock today. I knew Helen and Paul since 1988 and last saw them when they came to stay at my house in los angeles. We are setting up a memorial website: helenhill.org and if you want to put up photos, memories, whatnot, send them to memory [at] helenhill [dot] org

Francis Pop had gotten into a pile of craft supplies here and there were little pom-pom/puffballs all over the house. Helen ran upstairs to JP's room while she was out and grabbed a bunch of JP's clothes. She asked me for colored thread and sewed dozens of the puffballs all over JP's stuff - then she put it back in the drawers and closets. JP is still finding the puffballs months later. Helen left me her set of needles on a cute hand-made pincushion because she had more sets at home and I only had thread. I'm going to miss her so much.
rudabagaladyrudabagalady on January 5th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
I met them when I started at NSCAD in 1997 and was one of the luckiest people in the world when I became their housemate about a year later, on Falkland St in Halifax. My partner and I last saw them a little more than a year ago, when we drove to Columbia for a visit before shipping out to the Republic of Korea. I just received an email from them not four days ago. And one of their awesome postcards only three days ago. We were on our way to sending a package to them when Dan and Lisa (in Halifax, Canada) called us with the awful news. We love them both dearly. And we regret, more than anything, not being able to get home right now to be with everyone. If anyone here can point me toward more tributes or contacts (through my lj), I'd be very grateful. Thanks, Becka Barker
praaline on January 8th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
I and my family could not believe the headlines as we read them on last week. The horrible act of a person driven by such evil. Dr. Gaillunas truly was one of a kind. He touched our lives personally. My husband and I met him at the Daughters of Charity clinic upon our return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in early September 2006. My infant son was sick, we had no insurance and only God sent us into the care of Dr. Gaillunas. He is a wonderful doctor who really takes his profession to heart. His agenda is truly caring for the sick. He went above and beyond to care for my son and even called us after hours to make sure he was ok. He was an angel of hope to us in our time of need. During our visit he spoke highly of his wife and son. He loves them dearly.

I am praying that God will comfort them and bring healing to their hurting hearts. I am sincerely saddened by this senseless crime and tragedy and am embarrassed to say I live in a city that has suffered so much loss that the "powers that be" (federal,state & local) do not think it important enough to give those of us who have come back to help the city rebuild the protection that we so rightly deserve.

Questions to Gov. Blanco: Why havent you sent money from the $800+ million state "Surplus" to protect the vulnerable citizens of New Orleans? Why isnt this a priority?
pee-pee-poo-poo-headkittee on January 12th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
this picture was used for a cool spanish flyer dazee found yesterday rallying the latin community to march.

fieldsofgarlicfieldsofgarlic on January 12th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know. I had heard about the Spanish flyer, but hadn't looked at it. I just found it here:


Also, I saw that CNN used the picture during Anderson Cooper's segment with Bart on CNN last night:


I'm glad that people find it representative of Helen. I'm glad to have taken it.