Santa Fe world explorer receives honor six decades later


SANTA FE (KRQE) – Helen Schreider, 89, has seen the world like few ever have, and she has waited to receive an honor for six decades. Helen was inducted into the prestigious Explorers Club.

“I never, ever, thought it would happen,” she said.

She was not only named a member, but a national fellow.

She and her husband, Frank, navigated the globe together. “We’ve traveled the world many times,” Helen said. “Wonderful guy, constantly amazed me,” she said.

In 1954, the Schreiders traveled the unfinished Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. It took 2.5 years, and it was no easy task since portions were not yet completed. The trip required an amphibious truck to travel in coastal waters.

“It turned out that was the beginning of our profession,” Helen said.

That feat earned Frank membership in the club in 1956, but Helen could not join or even attend his induction ceremony at the time.

“Women were not allowed to be members. It was definitely an all-boys club kind of thing,” said Helen.

The husband-wife traveling team worked for National Geographic for 15 years, exploring at least 100 countries far off the beaten path.

The couple encountered danger on different journeys. They experienced everything from peril on the sea, to pirates off the coast of Panama, to feet being at death’s door in Indonesia when weather forced them into a cove.

“They said they still take heads and yours will do just as well as anybody’s,” Helen recalled a priest telling them. Locals gathered near their boat setting up fires on the land.

Their journeys were documented in three published books they authored.

Frank passed away in 1994 on their boat in Greece.

A documentary is being made on Helen’s life. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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