William Vaughn “Vine” Helper


Funeral services for 76-year old William Vaughn “Vine” Helper are Friday, August 4, 2023 at 10:00 at Brother Rene Hall in Oglala, SD, with Apostle Pedro Sharpfish officiating 

A one-night wake starts Thursday, August 3, at 4:30 at Brother Rene Hall in Oglala 

Burial is at the Makasan Presbyterian Cemetery in Oglala 

Online condolences may be left at

William Vaughn Helper was born on June 30, 1947 at home in the community of Red Shirt Table to Peter and Lillian (Red Shirt) Helper. He made his journey to the Spirit World on July 26, 2023 at the Indian Health Services (I.H.S.) in Pine Ridge, SD. 

Although William was his legal first name, he was known as Vaughn or “Vine.” The second-oldest of 9 children, he attended Number 6 Day School in the community of Drywood and then Loneman Elementary School (Isna Wica Owayawa) where he completed eighth grade.

Vaughn/Vine then transferred to Oglala Community School (OCS) for high school. He left OCS to train as a firefighter and worked to obtain his General Education Degree (GED), as he would say “education was important”. 

Vaughn/Vine served as a firefighter in the state of Oregon, then moved to the state of California where he worked for some time before returning to his family in the Drywood Community. 

He then worked for Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman Elementary)for 42 in facilities and maintenance. During his time there, he worked with many people and grew countless friendships with other staff members because it was a family and community he loved. 

Vaughn/Vine remained in the Number 6 community with family where he met Erdine. They were by each other’s side until his sudden passing. 

To Erdine’s children and family, he was affectionately known as “Papa Vaughn.” He was at all the family events and functions, serving as the one to bless the day, gathering, and meal. 

Vaughn/Vine was raised a Presbyterian and had a strong sense of faith. He would tease by saying “I pray so I know I will go up there (heaven)”. 

He loved eating various foods, but his favorites above all were desserts – pies, rolls, or any other sweets. 

He appreciated being outdoors and was content to sit still and watch the breeze scatter the leaves or watch the traffic go by in the evening. 

He looked forward to going to the cultural gatherings and camping at different events. His two favorite events were Lame Deer Chief’s Wacipi and the Oglala Nation Wacipi. 

Vaughn/Vine believed in strengthening and preserving the cultural language and values, so in his own quiet way he shared with others his passion for education and life-long learning. 

He read every day, whether it was the local newspapers or a book. He would read the Lakota Country Times paper twice before he put it away. 

He shared his vast knowledge through visiting and sharing the history or the culture, community and nation teaching through the stories. As Lakota first language speaker he would often advise when words were needing translation from English to Lakota. 

Papa Vaughn was known as a humble man and for his quiet demeanor, infinite patience, and considered words. He did so much good, with the good from his life quiet and steady. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and all who knew him. 

Vaughn/Vine is survived by his companion Erdine Red Ear Horse; sisters Corrine (Helper) Janis and Darlene Helper; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

He was preceded in death by his parents Pete Sr and Lillie (Red Shirt) Helper; sisters Geraldine Helper, Mary Helper, Helen Helper-Lodge; brothers Peter Helper Jr, Timothy Helper, and Ernest Helper; paternal grandparents Samuel Helper and Mary Thunder Hawk-Helper; maternal grandparents John Red Shirt and Mary Pumpkin Seed-Red Shirt. 

Pallbearers will be Sam Ghost Bear, DeAnthony Jefferies, Brandon Helper, Jeffrey Brown Jr, Russell Merdanian Sr, Russell Merdanian Jr, and Vernon Short Bull. 

Honorary pallbearers will be All Friends & Relatives. 

Arrangements entrusted with Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge, SD