It was very early in life that Helaine Raye Palmer Williams realized what her career path would be: The Missouri-born, longtime Arkansas resident began writing in the third grade, creating popular stories about a fictitious club that starred her favorite classmates and herself. She continued this series into high school. Corny, she says, but it was a beginning.
Helaine is a graduate of what is now Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School. She attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before taking what she refers to as a “14-year spring break,” leaving college and concentrating on her career. In 1998, she returned to UA-Little Rock and graduated in August 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
In May 1981, Helaine came to the then-Arkansas Democrat as a city desk news assistant. Nearly two years later, she became a consumer affairs reporter and author of her first newspaper column, “Action and Answers.” She wrote the column for four years before starting over again in the Democrat’s Style department as bridal editor. In September 1989, she took over authorship of a weekly column, “Let’s Talk,” begun by the Style editor shortly before her departure to a new job. Helaine was also promoted to the position of reporter for the revamped LifeStyle section.
In the years since, the award-winning journalist has written for a number of current and former special sections of what is now the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Her stories appear in several of the Style sections throughout the week, as well as the High Profile section, for which she covers charity events in central Arkansas. “Let’s Talk,” under her authorship, turned 30 in September 2019. She also writes a monthly fashion column, “Dressing Room,” as well as occasional previews and reviews of concerts and other performances.
Helaine has a nearly lifelong record of volunteer and community work within and without the churches with which she has been affiliated. Her current board memberships include United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas (of which she is secretary and past chair) and Compassion in Action Re-Entry.
Helaine is married to freelance journalist Renarda A. “Dré” Williams. They live in the MacArthur Park Historic District in Little Rock.