'Ms. Helen' dies at age 89

Helen Sewell, known affectionately as "Ms. Helen" on Capitol Hill, died Tuesday at the age of 89. She had been undergoing kidney dialysis.

Sewell was a familiar face during seven decades on the Hill, where she worked at the House cloakroom food counter. Joyce Hamlett, a member of the House security staff, remembered Sewell fondly as a nice, motherly figure, a "teeny, beautiful black woman."

"If I do go in to see her, she would say, 'When I don't see you I worry about you,'" Hamlett said. "She's one of a kind. I will truly miss her."

Sewell was a friend of several Republican presidents; legend has it that President Nixon visited her at the Capitol.

Sewell's memorial service will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Petworth United Methodist Church, 32 Grant Circle N.W. Messages of condolence should go to Jamielle Thomas, Sewell's daughter, at 5651 Kennedy St. Apt. 203, Riverdale, MD 20737.