Helen Turkish Looft, shop owner, artist

November 28, 2012

Helen Turkish Looft, 86, who founded and ran Yarns, Etc., a yarn and fiber arts shop, gallery and school in Old Town Alexandria in the late 1970s and early ’80s, died Nov. 25 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital.

She had congestive heart failure, her daughter Nikki Lowry saud.

Mrs. Looft founded the fiber arts workshop at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, her daughter said. She also was a floral designer.

Helen Elena Turkish was born in Nemacolin, Pa., and was the daughter of Russian immigrants. In the 1940s and early ’50s, she was a secretary at Fort Belvoir and executive assistant to Sen. Ernest McFarland (D-Ariz.).

Mrs. Looft lived in the Mount Vernon neighborhood for more than five decades. She was a founding member of Washington Farm United Methodist Church and did volunteer work with organizations including the Widowed Persons Service.

Her husband of 41 years, Donald J. Looft, died in 1987. Survivors include three children, Nikki Lowry of Washington, Christel Bolgiano of Rockville and David Looft of Marietta, Ga.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

— Emily Langer