Helen Elizabeth Boyd Selig (1937–2022)
Helen Elizabeth Boyd Selig was active in the business world and in civic matters, serving as mayor of Hot Springs (Garland County) from 1994 to 2000. During her tenure as mayor, the Hot Springs Convention Center was constructed. She was the first woman to chair the board for the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, was named Woman of the Year three times, and was an influential leader of the 1992 effort to select Hot Springs as the site of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA).
Helen Elizabeth Boyd was born in Siloam Springs (Benton County) on July 16, 1937, to Ryland Samuel Boyd and Catherine Elizabeth Bell Boyd. After her high school years in Siloam Springs, she attended the University of Tulsa, where she graduated with a degree in industrial psychology in 1957.
In 1958, she met her future husband John David Selig. When John was told he needed a date for a fraternity party to avoid having to pay a $5 fee, a friend suggested Helen. They went on that date and eventually married, a union that lasted for sixty-four years, until the time of her death. John Selig, an executive for Weyerhaeuser, was originally from Hot Springs, where they moved permanently in 1983 after living in various cities across the country.
In Hot Springs, with her son Scott, Helen Selig started the firm of Selig Commercial Real Estate, which at that time was the only local company specializing in commercial real estate. In later life, she served as a consultant working with public and private business operators in the Hot Springs area, using her commercial real estate background to advise them regarding such issues as location and operations.
Among her community activities, she was a founding member of the Arkansas Women’s Leadership Forum and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She served on the boards of the Hot Springs Music Festival, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Oaklawn Foundation, as well as on the national board of St John’s Mercy Health System.
Selig volunteered for the Garland County Habitat for Humanity, the Hot Springs Parks (sitting on the board of directors), the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the YMCA (sitting on the board of directors), the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist, and Hot Springs R.E.G.A.R.D. (Recognizing Everyone’s Gifts and Respecting Diversity). She was an active member of the Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club, where she continued to play the piano at weekly meetings even as her final illness progressed.
One of her proudest achievements regarded the site selection for ASMSA. When the Arkansas General Assembly established the school in Hot Springs in 1991, there was no location chosen for the facility. The site selection committee received more than fifty applications from cities and towns across Arkansas. Hot Springs community leaders credit Selig with discovering that the state was considering such a school, and also with determining what many in Hot Springs considered to be the ideal spot for housing the school—in the city’s recently vacated St. Joseph Hospital. Her proposal not only led to locating the school there but also prevented the multi-story building in downtown Hot Springs from becoming vacant.
In 1994, while Selig was mayor, a dedication ceremony at ASMSA recognized the city’s efforts in the site selection process. To symbolize community support for ASMSA, Selig presented a bronze school bell, which was placed in front of the Student Center.
Selig and her family continued support for the school, establishing the Helen Selig Promise Kept Endowment in 2017. According to ASMSA, the creation of this annual monetary grant to an ASMSA faculty member was the single largest gift to establish an endowment in the school’s history.
Selig died in Hot Springs on February 18, 2022, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. At a ceremony on October 7, 2022, a building on the ASMSA campus was dedicated to Selig. The building, which features a likeness of Selig that is displayed prominently, was named in her honor to recognize her efforts in bringing ASMSA to Hot Springs.
For additional information:
Edwards, Courtney. “Champion for Hot Springs, Former Mayor Helen Selig, Dies at 84.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 22, 2022. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/feb/22/champion-for-hot-springs-former-mayor-helen-selig/ (accessed March 29, 2023).
———. “Watch: Former Mayor Selig Remembered for Her Passion, Persistence.” Sentinel-Record, February 22, 2022. https://www.hotsr.com/news/2022/feb/22/watch-former-mayor-selig-remembered-for-her/ (accessed March 29, 2023).
Morrison, Elisha. “‘Summer Camp’ Special Time for Grandchildren.” Sentinel-Record, July 25, 2015. https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-sentinel-record/20150725/281513634851414 (accessed March 29, 2023).
Obituary of Helen Elizabeth Selig. Arkansas Online. https://www.arkansasonline.com/obituaries/2022/feb/20/helen-selig-2022-02-20/ (accessed March 29, 2023).
Obituary for Helen Elizabeth Selig. Hot Springs Funeral Home. https://www.hotspringsfh.com/obituaries/Helen-Selig/#!/Obituary (accessed March 29, 2023).
“Questions and Answers: Helen Selig.” Sentinel-Record, November 23, 2014. https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-sentinel-record/20141123/282789239749584 (accessed March 29, 2023).
Sewell, Donnie. “Helen Selig, Early Advocate of ASMSA, Passes.” Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, February 21, 2022. https://www.asmsa.org/news/helen-selig-early-advocate-of-asmsa-passes/ (accessed March 29, 2023).
Garland County Historical Society
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