Cherie Martineau Helm – Co-founder of The Lace Museum

1930 – 2022

Cherie Martineau Helm, 91, passed away on 22 January 2022 after a brief illness at Stanford Hospital. She was born in Provo, Utah on 4 May 1930, the third child of Carl Pierre Martineau and Gladys Gonzalez Martineau. Cherie grew up in Provo and then moved with her family to Antioch, California in the 1940’s when her father transferred to the steel mill in Pittsburg. After a few years in Antioch, their family moved to Walnut Creek when the Martineau family purchased an 8-acre property they dubbed “Ocho Milpas” on the main road between Walnut Creek and Lafayette. Cherie attended Acalanes High School and worked in her mother’s dressmaking studio which was known as Martineau Modiste.

She met the love of her life, Richard “Dick” Helm, a Stanford University student, on a blind date set up by her brother Carl who was also a Stanford student. Their first date was a dinner dance in Berkeley. Cherie and Dick were married in the home of a Martineau family friend in Lafayette on 25 June 1949. They upset their parents by ducking out the back door after the wedding and before the reception. Dick and Cherie settled down in Palo Alto and were blessed with two daughters, Teresa Louise Helm, and Kathleen Fern Helm. Together, Richard and Cherie restored a grand old turn of the century Colonial Revival house on Lincoln Avenue in Palo Alto, which served as their family home for decades.

Throughout her life, Cherie was an avid collector, specializing in antiques, textiles, and especially handmade lace. It was her interest in lace that she, along with Gracie Larsen, became co-founders of The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale. The museum is devoted to preserving, displaying, and teaching the art and history of lacemaking. Cherie enjoyed making bobbin lace, tatting and needle lace. She developed her own style of lace that she named Martineau Tape Lace. She shared her interest in lace with enthusiasm, demonstrating and teaching others how to make needle lace. She was known during her time at the museum for her exquisite Christmas ornaments.

After her husband, Richard, passed away, Cherie lived with her daughters Kathleen Helm and Teresa Mize and son-in-law, Ralph Mize. Cherie will be remembered for her creative passion and joy in telling a good story in the process.