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Helen Hofmann Bertagnole-"Utah's Queen of Swing"
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UTAH aND THE COLD WAR

World War I and Utah
Utah's Capitols
Herbert S. Auerbach, Renaissance Man
Utah's "Ugly Duckling" Salt Flats
Publicizing Bryce Canyon
The Last Indian Uprising
Home Industry 20th Century Style
Some 80 Utah Nurses Served in World War I
World War I Heroine Maud Fitch Lived in Eureka, Utah
Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland
The Development of Zion National Park
The Twenties
Artist John Held, Jr. Created Cultural Icons, 1920's
Media Development in Weber County
Silent Films Intrigued & Occasionally Offended
Coal Production Amid the Wars
Sheep Fueled 1920's Economy
Military Installations
Boxcars and Section Houses
Jack Dempsey Loved Fighting, Mining, and Cowboying
Radio in Utah Began in May 1922 on Station KZN
The Cigarette Ban of the 19020's Caused an Uproar
Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah
Lawyer Ran For President on the Farmer-Labor Ticket
George Sutherland Served on the U.S. Supreme Court
Alice Stratton Feared and Made Fun of "Kaiser Bill"
Klansmen at a Funeral and a Terrible Lynching
President Harding's 1923 Visit to Utah
Growing Crops For the Cannery
Dinosaur National Monument
The Fathers of Capitol Reef National Park
Ogden's the Bigelow-Preserves a Historic Area
Philo T. Farnsworth's Invention
The Beginnings of Commerical Aviation
The White Book Road Guide
The Great Depression
Depression Memories
"Even Grasshoppers Were Starving" During Drought
New Deal Agencies Built 233 Buildings in Utah
"Alphabet" Agencies in Utah County
The Civilian Conservation Corps Was a Boon to Utah
The Civilian Conservation Corps
Marriner S. Eccles Helped Design FDR's New Deal
Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930
Reed Smoot & America's Natural Resources, 1903-33
Children in the 1930's Hoped to Become Nurses & Pilots
Arches National Monument
A Labor Inspector During the Great Depression
Clean Clothes Blowing in the Breeze
Utah's Rosies in the War
Garfield County Airport Has Unusual Hangar
Marie Ogden Led Spiritual Group in San Juan County
Uinta Basin Group Trekked to the 1933 World's Fair
Helen Hofmann Bertagnole-"Utah's Queen of Swing"
World War II in Utah
How Trains Helped Win a War
The War Effort at Home
Topaz Relocation Center
Topaz: Japanese American Interned in UT During WWII
Japanese Agricultural Colony at Keetley
Utahn Survives the Attack at Pearl Harbor
The USS Salt Lake City Made History
Utah Naval Officer Died a Hero's Death at Pearl Harbor
Rhymes Filled Children's Autograph Books
Utah's Rosies Upshot
Women Workers and Housing Issues
World War II Claimed the Lives of Four Utah Brothers

W. Paul Reeve
History Blazer, September 1995

In August 1938, "Utah's Queen of Swing," Helen Hofmann Bertagnole, added a third Utah state golf title to her string of victories, prompting one local sportswriter to declare her "the greatest woman golfer ever to wander the Utah fairways." Less than a decade later her exploits on the golf course as well as her talent as an exceptional bowler, softball player, basketball star, swimmer, and diver earned her the 1947 pioneer centennial award as Utah's outstanding woman athlete of the past century. Her illustrious career proved her worthy of such praise.

Helen was born April 15, 1916, in Salt Lake City to George and Carol Hofmann and demonstrated an interest in a variety of sports at a young age. She first became acquainted with golf while caddying for her father at Forest Dale golf course and soon developed an interest of her own for the sport. She began swinging her own clubs in 1931 at age 15, and though her game was initially erratic Helen quickly increased the power and control behind her drives and soon began winning tournaments.

In 1935, going into the state competition, Helen had already won the Fort Douglas Invitational as well as the Salt Lake City Championship and needed only to add the state title to capture the local grand slam of women's golf. She was heavily favored to win the state crown, but Helen H. Means had also entered the event and had proven challenging in earlier meetings. As predicted, both Hofmann and Means played brilliant golf through the initial stages of the tournament, which ultimately landed them in a head-to-head battle for the state title. After being six down on the first eighteen holes of the finals Means staged a rally and came back to within three on the 33rd hole, but that was as close as she would get. Hofmann sank a 35-yard approach shot for an eagle three on the 34th to end the match and clinch her grand slam victory.

In addition to her extraordinary year as a golfer in 1935, she also starred on the Barnett and Weiss girls basketball team that competed in the national AAU tournament. The following year she again demonstrated her talent on the basketball court, this time sinking shots for the Auerbach's basketball team, which won the Intermountain title and made a good showing at the national meet. That year she also repeated her wins at the Fort Douglas and state golf competitions but did not enter the city tournament.

In all, Helen won the women's state golf championship six times and played consistently on the national golfing circuit. She became the first Utah woman to qualify in the National Amateur Golfing Championships, but perhaps her biggest victory came against another golf legend, the great Mildred "Babe" Didriksen Zaharias. Not only did Helen beat "Babe" in the semifinals of the 1938 Women's Western Open, but she drove the ball farther than any other woman competing.

By 1945 when Helen married Robert K. Bertagnole her flurry of golf victories had largely diminished. However, even after becoming the mother of two, she did not forsake her love for golf. She turned professional in 1958 and worked as a teaching pro at Salt Lake's Bonneville golf course. Her career was cut tragically short when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1961. Despite ailing health Helen continued promoting her favorite sport and labored untiringly in the Utah girls golf program. She died at her home in Salt Lake City at age 45 on February 14, 1962.

Fortunately Helen's outstanding achievements in Utah sports were not soon forgotten. In November 1974 before a packed house at the Prudential Federal Plaza in Salt Lake City, Helen became the first woman inducted into the Utah sports hall of fame. Her daughter, Barbara Bertagnole Sestabem, accepted the honor on her mother's behalf.

Sources: Salt Lake Tribune, June 29, August 17, 1935, August 13, 1938, February 16, 1962; Deseret News, February 15, 1962; November 21, 1974

 

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