Helen was born on January 15, 1906, in Ohio, but soon came to live with her parents, Annie and Fred Bendelari, and siblings at The Olivia Apartments. Her uncle, Arthur Bendelari built the Olivia and lived there with his wife Frances. Her father and uncle were associated with the Consolidated Mining Company and Eagle Picher Lead Company, respectively. Both families made a very comfortable living in Joplin which enabled Helen and sisters Olivia and Mary, and brother George, to travel and study in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Therefore, it is no surprise that Helen’s first marriage in London on September 19, 1927, was to a British subject, Mr. Egerton Boughton-Leigh.
Competitive Snow Skiing
Helen began her skiing career in 1928 and competed as a British Subject (by marriage) as a member of the British International Ski Federation teams of 1932, 1933, and 1934. Helen was the first American woman to race on the European continent in international competition, skiing for the Ski Club of Great Britain. She chose to be a member of the British team because U.S. women’s skiing had not yet reached international status.
In 1935, Helen was released from the British ski team so that she could return to her homeland to assist in organizing the first United States Women’s Ski Team. Helen was captain of the team and placed seventh in the International Ski Federation World Championships.
- First American Woman to Race on the European Continent in International Competition in 1932
- Elected to the U. S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1968
- Helen assisted with the early period of development of American women skiers and was an important ingredient that made the U.S. Olympic Ski Team gel.
Helen and Egerton divorced in 1934—but not to worry—while competing in the Olympic games in Germany in 1936, she met Malcom McAlpin, a member of the U.S. Hockey Team. She and Malcom eloped by dog team from Sun Valley and were married in Ketchum, Idaho! Through the ensuing years, the couple lived in New York, New Jersey, and California. Helen continued to be an enthusiastic skier and was co-founder of the Snow Chaser’s Ski Club in Morristown, New Jersey. The McAlpin’s owned airplanes and in August of 1937, Helen piloted her first solo flight.
Helen’s beloved husband died in 1985. Helen died on December 28, 1999, in a Palm Springs, California hospital at the age of 93. She lived in Convent Station, New Jersey and her memorial service was in Morristown, New Jersey. Malcom and Helen had two children.