In Memory of

Annette J Helton

June 8, 1963 - May 24, 2023


The cherished soul of Annette Janine (Person) Helton, 59, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., left our physical world behind on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.  She died surrounded by the love of family at St. Luke’s East Hospital from complications of pneumonia while in cancer treatment.

Annette was born on June 8, 1963, so a memorial to celebrate her life will be held on June 8, 2023, at Belton Christian Church, 409 Airway Lane, Belton, Mo.  Annette’s favorite “color” was tie dye, so feel free to wear some (or not).  Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., with a memorial service at 11:30.  Lunch will follow in Person Hall at the church.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Annette with donations to Hope House at, or by check to P.O. Box 577, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063.  Please note in the online form or on your check that your gift is in memory of Annette Helton.  For many years Annette and Tom have donated hundreds of blankets with embroidered names to Hope House and other organizations so children can have a personalized gift at Christmas.

Annette was born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in Belton.  She was the fourth of six “PKs,” which meant both Person Kids and Preacher’s Kids.  Her father, the late Rev. Richard Person was pastor of Belton Christian Church for 27 years.  Annette’s mother, the late Deloris (Taylor) Person, was a school music teacher, church choir director, and the founding director of The Celebration non-denominational youth singers.  Annette was a devoted daughter, and her parents admired her talent, strength and resilience.

Annette graduated from Belton High School in 1981, attended William Woods College in Fulton, Mo., and graduated with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., in 1985.  She remained connected with and devoted to many dear high school and college friends throughout her life.

Annette married her high school sweetheart, Charles (Chuck) Crate III, in 1985.  After losing Chuck to injuries from a car accident only a few months later, starting over was profoundly difficult.  She found her way with the help of very kind (and sometimes crazy) Columbia friends and roommates.  Many of them, like Annette, worked with organizations that provided support and dignity to developmentally disabled adults.  Those dear friends and her Crate family continued to be important and involved with Annette for the rest of her life.

After moving from Columbia to Lee’s Summit in 1990, Annette continued working with developmentally disabled adults until she took a leap of faith to become self employed.  She was a naturally talented seamstress who made curtains, pillowcases, slipcovers, etc.  But her true gift was in helping families make memories in glittery dance costumes, beautiful prom dresses, or custom bridal attire.  She dressed the casts of countless school plays, created cute and meaningful quilted Teddy bears and T-shirt blankets, and created incredibly detailed and fun Halloween costumes.

While running her sewing business, later adding custom embroidery, Annette also began providing in-home care for the children of many Lee’s Summit teachers.  “Net Net” was deeply committed to “her kids.”  She was unbelievably creative when it came to devising ways to make every day fun.  She was so honored and grateful to their parents for entrusting their precious children to her.  Annette cherished and was proud of her kids, continuing to be involved with most of them as they grew to be amazing young adults.

When the children no longer needed before and after school care, Annette joined the staff at Lee’s Summit West High School as the Focus Room Facilitator.  There she made dear friends and happy memories.  And once again Annette was able to help even more kids … many of whom may not have successfully navigated high school without her.

Annette also prided herself on being the “Fun Aunt” to her nieces and nephews.  It was a title she was never in danger of losing.  Who else but Silly Net Net would pretend to be sleeping while driving, create wild, kid-safe challenges and dares known as “The Game,” play “Sardines” for hours (her house had a favorite hiding place fondly remembered as the “Sound-Proof Room”), help them create tie dye shirts or Spin Art masterpieces (yep, she owned four Spin Art machines), or give them thoughtful, hand-made gifts … usually customized with their embroidered names.

After several years without a life partner, Annette started her chapter with Tom Helton.  Annette and Tom married on June 20, 2009, with many of her kids taking part in a beautiful outdoor ceremony.  Annette and Tom loved going to movies, sitting in their hot tub, and decorating for every holiday.  They worked together to throw epic game night parties, and frequently hosted a Friday “Party on the Porch” for the parents of Annette’s kids.

In recent years Annette and Tom launched a business that specializes in creating and selling embroidered patches, primarily at the City Market in Kansas City, Mo.  There Tom is known as the “Patch Man,” and Annette loved customizing jackets and other items with Tom’s patches, helping their customers express themselves through one-of-a-kind wearable art.

Although Annette and Tom traveled mostly to visit family, Annette’s favorite vacations were to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.  She thought it was the most beautiful place she ever saw, and Tom plans to scatter her ashes there.

In addition to her husband, Tom Helton of Lee’s Summit, Annette is survived by stepson Brad Ruby of Raytown, Mo., siblings (and spouses) Richelle Rader (Bill) of Lee’s Summit, James Person (Debbie) of Garden City, Mo., Patti Person (Kathy Kinney) of Lee’s Summit, Alisa Cameron of Quincy, Ill., and Steven Person (Sara) of Liberty, Mo.  Also surviving are in-laws Becky Helton of St. Charles, Mo., Jaynie Alee of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Carol Klapat (Jed) of Wilkes-Barre, Heather Helton of St. Charles, Glenda and Chuck Crate Jr. of Belton, Suzi Palmer (Steve) of Belton, Cindy Crate of Belton, Steve Crate (Rose) of Gardner, Kan., 18 nieces and nephews, and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

In addition to Chuck Crate III, Annette was preceded in death by her grandparents, parents, nephew Bryce Rader, and father-in-law Wayne Helton.

The extended Helton, Person and Crate families wish peace and comfort to all whose lives are better because of the love and fun that you shared with Annette.  Be like Net Net … the world needs more people like her.

Arrangements by Langsford Funeral Home, 115 SW 3rd Street, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Net Net was an amazing person. She was a Godsend to our family. She was so generous with her time and love. Jennifer and I were new parents and Annette agreed to watch Jack when he was about eight months old to allow both of us to work. The love and care she unselfishly provided daily to Jack will never be forgotten. She treated him like he was her own child and was part of our family. Annette also generously cared for our daughter Mary Kate. Both of our children learn so much from her. Her love was unconditional and endless. We were so sad today to learn about her passing, but we know she is in a much better place. We love you Net Net. Until we meet again and can share a heart felt laugh and a long story. We love you!

Matt, Jennifer, Jack and Mary Kate Burgess

I was a friend and work colleague with Annette when I lived in Kansas City. She helped my son get a good grade in algebra. We had some great times as Annette was always finding fun things for us to. A fun, loving and generous of heart woman!

John and I were so shocked to hear of Annette’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you

Annette’s beautiful HEART & LOVING, GENEROUS, JOYFUL spirit was such a gift! Her smile and laugh were the absolute BEST! Annette was such an incredibly devoted best friend and sister, to my precious friend and sister, Angie Dalton. They not only shared their deep friendship with each other, but shared their passion for art and crafts, together! SO MUCH TALENT AND SO MUCH LOVE! Annette was a “forever gift & blessing” and is alteady so very missed! 💝 My sincere prayers of peace for every loved one! 🙏🕊

Peace and love to all who loved Annette. I feel privileged to have known and shared time with her. I learned something from her everyday. She was a woman of action, not just words. She helped and thought of others before herself. If all of us do 1 kind thing in her honor, what a better place our part of the world will be. Her memories will be forever a cherished blessing for me! Nettles, you will be forever missed, but always loved and remembered for your gracious heart, smile and laugh! One of your many friends, Angie

I will miss our dear Annette joy and laughter — our loss is Heaven’s gain.

Even though our paths have not crossed for quite some time I know the world will miss your beautiful smile and your quick wit. Rest Sweet soul.

Praying for Tom and the rest of Annette’s family for comfort. So sorry to hear this. Annette was such a fun person and cared about others.

God bless.

I was shocked to hear this. Annette
was a beautiful and caring person..
She was the babysitter that my kids wanted, when my kids were growing up. My prayers for all the family..
Lois Brewer and family

Annette did so much for all of us at West. She had a gift of taking that troubled child none of us could get to work and making a connection. There have been students tell me since she has been gone “I don’t want to go because Mrs. Helton isn’t there.” I am going to miss her so very much. Love you Annette. ❤️

Sweet Richelle,
I am so sorry for your loss. What a great family you have, and I am blessed to know you and your siblings! My prayers are with you, Bill, Tom, and the entire family.

To Richelle, James, Patti, Alisa, Steven and your families and extended families.
What a wonderful life Annette led. Countless memories to remember. Growing up in Belton we were so blessed to have the kind of parents that were forever dedicated to Faith, Family and Friends. Of course families of that generations had several kids! I think one of the hardest times for us was losing our oldest sister. I can’t imagine how you all must be feeling. It doesn’t seem like it is time for those possibilities.
Thinking of each of you at this time, keeping you all close in thought and prayer. I know she will be getting her house ready in heaven for an eternity of game nights! With love and sympathy. Kathy (Maurer) Muder

Richelle and Bill, we send sincere condolences to you and your family as you celebrate Annette’s life. We will always remember her, fondly, as a smiling, welcoming lady. Her costume skills were epic, to say the least, and Annette was a treasured member of our dance community. We know you are surrounded by the love and care of family and we send warmest regards to Tom. May God bless you and lift you up.

Annette was a fabulous supporter for our special education students. Especially through the pandemic years where she continued to develop relationships with students through google meets and email. Her generous and gentle ways made her a role model. She will be greatly missed at LSW.

Annette was such a beautiful, gifted & generous person to all who were blessing to know her. I am heart broken for her family. Prayers for peace for everyone.

Tom, our deepest condolences to you. I can’t even begin to tell you what a beautiful, loving, caring, and compassionate person Annette was. I can see why kids were drawn to her. She had a killer smile and love just flowed out of her. I miss her so much already. I loved her completely with all my heart and soul. A piece of my heart will always be broken. I love you Annette and I will never forget you. Please watch over all of us who are left to grieve your passing. Until we meet again, I love you❤️

I had the pleasure of meeting Annette while becoming a sub for her at West High School. Her value to the many students she served and to everyone who had the honor to know her will forever be remembered.


Thursday, June 8, 2023
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Belton Christian Church
409 Airway Ln
Belton, MO 64012


Thursday, June 8, 2023
11:30 AM
Belton Christian Church
409 Airway Ln
Belton, MO 64012