"You've won, Rachel.... But for the last time!" - Helen Caldwell
Helen Caldwell is a long time Ashford Falls resident. She attended Ashford Falls High School with Rachel Hedison, Caitlin Featherstone, Len Snedeker and Blake Hedison.
Helen is the daughter of William and Lisa Caldwell. Her father was the local English teacher at Ashford Falls High School and a struggling novelist while her mother worked as a nurse at Ashford Falls Community General and as an assistant to Dorothy Pierce, the town veterinarian. For much of her life, Helen and her sister Tricia Caldwell lived in a remote house on Haverstraw Road where they were each other's best friends until they started attending Ashford Falls High School, As a teenager, Helen became friends with Caitlin Featherstone, Deborah Nordoff, Maddie Harrington and Janet DuBois. She was pursued romantically by a number of male classmates, such as Danny Featherstone, Russell Coleman and Quentin Baldwin among others, but she had a bit of a rivalry with local heiress Rachel Hedison, who had been moved from private school to public school by her mother. In school, Helen and Rachel obstructed each other over the interests of boys and school politics, forming a rivalry that has lasted several years. Rachel's half-brother, Ty Hedison, also briefly pursued Helen as a love interest, but she pretty much spurned his advances due to his relationship with Rachel.
During her senior year of high school, Janet worked at Ludlow's Candy Shop in town to save enough money to attend college. Ironically, it was Rachel's mother, Monica Hedison, who helped create a scholarship with the help of local dentist Dr. Alan Fairwood, Dr. Albert Waverly and town councilman Douglas Greer that helped Ashford Falls students like Helen attend grad school, and from 1980 to 1984, she attended the Samaritan School for Nursing near Troy, New York.
Graduating in 1984, Janet did her internship at Utica Medical Hospital where she was briefly romanced by Richard Latimer, a married orderly who passed himself off as a single doctor to date her. She went on to work at St. Luke's Hospital in Beacon before getting hired at Ashford Falls Community General Hospital where she worked under her mother, who was head nurse. She also befriended Dr. Elizabeth Freeling, a relatively new doctor, but she was mostly exasperated by her mother's harsh training techniques in the hospital. Her squabbles with her mother were tempered by the arrival of Dr. Paul Kirkwood in 1985, replacing Freeling's mentor, Dr. Waverly, as Chief of Staff. Helen was greatly attracted to Paul, but her experience with Latimer made her reticent to trust him. It was only after seeing his professionalism and devotion to his career that she finally accepted his invitation to buy her dinner.
As a couple, Paul and Helen frequented many of the local restaurants and made trips to Boston, often staying in first-class accommodations at the Wooster Hotel in Boston during medical convention. However, her relationship with Paul was often exasperated by Rachel Hedison trying further her appearance in the community. She tried to pay Helen to stop dating Paul, but Helen threw the money in her face. Rachel also hired actors to play patients at the hospital to accuse her of malfeasance, but Dr. Freeling herself defended Helen against the accusations. After Rachel's car accident in Winter 1987, Helen contemplated giving Rachel an overdose of medication to do away with her, but she eventually realized doing so would make her just as bad as Rachel.
Helen's relationship with Paul was also affected by the arrival of Dr. Angela Harker, Paul's girlfriend while in medical school. While Angela confessed she didn't want to be an obstacle in their relationship, Helen felt insecure in her presence and often purposely steered out of her way. Rachel even offered to join up with her in order to get rid of her, but Helen refused.
In 1988, during the Second Bicentennial Founders Day Ceremony, the town council of Ashford Falls decided to honor the town's earliest founder by honoring his modern day descendants. Although Helen knew her family had lived in town for several generations, she was pessimistic that her family went back to the founding of the town, and she applied to study medical procedures in limited classes in England. Dr. Freeling even helped her to apply with a letter of recommendation. Ironically, Helen learned she was a descendant of Nicholas Adams and distantly related to Janet DuBois and local mechanic Len Snedeker, who used the town event to out himself as a cross-dresser.
Getting approved to study in England, Helen broke up with Paul in a letter, feeling he had a better relationship with Angela than she did. She traveled to London with over twenty nurses to study at the famed King's College in London where she became friends with Lisa Craigmiles and Tricia Reason, who taught how to be more assertive and determined. She also started to date an actor named Loren Rhodes, who had been hired by Rachel to keep her from returning to Ashford Falls. For several weeks, Loren romanced Helen until in a fit of conscience, he confessed to Rachel's duplicity, and Helen announced to herself she would never let Rachel deceive her again.
Helen returned to Ashford Falls in the Summer 1990 just after Angel's murder, seemingly by Gabe Kirkwood, Paul's father. She consoled Paul over her death, but after replacing her mother as head nurse, she found indications in the hospital files that Rachel Hedison and Janet DuBois had been switched at birth. While Rachel was being pursued by writer Jack Gable, Helen realized she could finally break her hold on Paul even as they planned to get married. She sent a letter to Janet to appear at the announcement of Rachel and Janet's party, and then appeared herself with the proof that Rachel was not a Hedison by birth. By placing Janet in the family, Helen knew she could have revenge on Rachel, but after Janet was accidentally shot in Rachel's place by Blake Hedison, Helen learned during Janet's surgery that her conclusions were in error.
However, after Rachel tried to have Paul kill Janet in surgery, he had an attack of conscience and broke up with Rachel. He turned to pursue his old relationship with Helen, but Rachel hired Lou Riley to get rid of her. Riley faked a burglary at Helen's house to distress her and tampered with the gas lines as well, but Paul stood up for her against Rachel. When the house blew up from the gas leak, both Helen and her sister survived. Rachel also sent Len Snedeker, the recipient of a recent sex-change operation, to complicate his relationship with Helen, but this ploy failed. After learning Janet had survived the explosion at her house, Rachel attacked Helen at the New York Delicatessen, where they were separated by the police. As Rachel left in a rage, she was struck and knocked unconscious by Danny Featherstone returning to Ashford Falls in Jack Gable's old Ferrari.
With Rachel seemingly dead, Helen and Paul moved forward in their relationship. She moved into his apartment, later eventually purchased a house on Owens Drive with him. Shortly after they married in 1995, Rachel re-appeared in Ashford Falls alive and in control of Alliance Industries buying up shares in Hedison Pharmaceuticals as part of a hostile takeover. During this period, Helen was working as a campaign manager for Sabrina Collins to oust Carl Griggs, the Hedison's candidate, out of the mayor's office. Expecting Rachel to support Griggs, Helen joined with Bobbi Pierce to obstruct Rachel's involvement in the local legend. However, Rachel was actually supporting Collins as a lynchpin in breaking her father's influence in the local economy and getting hold of his company. Rachel also tried to briefly vamp Paul because of their former relationship, but Paul kept Helen from discoring this until after Collins won the election.
Made an unwitting accomplice in helping Rachel seize Hedison Pharmaceuticals, Helen and Paul joined with Blake Hedison and Janet DuBois to force Rachel to sell more shares in Hedison Pharmaceuticals which she could afford to lose. Although Rachel eventually seized control of her father's company, she lost controlling interest in the company to the stockholders. Helen gleefully revealed the fact to Rachel, realizing she had finally had revenge on Rachel after all their years of feuding.