Helen Hoel - Philanthropist

Helen Hoel - Cayucos Pioneer

In 2017, Cayucos lost a woman who exemplified her generation. Helen Hoel was a 'can do' woman who lived frugally and gave generously to her friends, her neighbors, her community and others who were in need. Without prior announcement or fanfare, Helen bequeathed to the Cayucos Land Conservancy a portion of the proceeds of her estate, the largest gift the organization has ever received, and we're honored to tell you some of her story.

“Cayucos Pioneers since 1947” proudly proclaims their donation plaque on the Cayucos pier.  After World War II and their first year of marriage together in Bob’s home state of Wisconsin, Helen and Bob decided to move to Helen’s home state of California.  They built a trailer from scratch for the move and to house themselves, a cat and a dog and settled here in Cayucos. The Hoels bought a plot of bare land at the corner of what is now 13th and Cass, still dirt roads then with “only an old man in his surf shack at the top of the street”.

Helen and Bob lived in that little trailer a long time while they built their garage/workshop (both in photo), their home and garden. The two small palm trees Helen planted are still standing tall on that corner today (see photo). Bob worked local construction jobs and at Boyle’s Lumber, while Helen worked in the local hardware store as a secretary and author.  Helen was an artist and focused on painting and ceramics. Together they hosted art classes for locals in their enclosed patio sunroom space and backyard kiln they’d built.


They were an adventurous couple, exploring the United States in trailers, trucks and caravans, while always calling Cayucos home.  Robert and Helen never had children, but were parents to many cats, dogs and plants over their 70+ years of marriage. Throughout their lives, they donated annually to boys’ homes, veterans services and hospitals in places they’d traveled to.  What they loved most in their lives was Cayucos and had that in common with their neighbors and friends. 

Before each of their deaths, Robert in 2014 and Helen in 2017, they made sure their estates, legacies and wishes were carried on in the form of generous donations and planned giving to the organizations, people and land that they loved.  This included The Cayucos Art Association, Cayucos Chamber of Commerce and Cayucos Senior Center, as well as the Cayucos Land Conservancy.  Before Helen’s death, with the help of friends and a rented wheelchair, she made it all the way to the very end of the newly rebuilt Cayucos pier and looked out over the edge at the water, then back at the town she loved so much. She even got to see her donated plaque hanging proudly: “Cayucos Pioneers since 1947”. 

We are so thankful for Helen's generous gift and donation to The Cayucos Land Conservancy. It helps ensure that the beautiful land she and Bob loved is still here for future generations and to be able to be enjoyed as much as they did.