Helen F. O'Connor

The month of March will forever be a little less green, with the passing of Helen Frances O’Connor on October 23. The third of four redheads born to Dr Sarsfield J O’Connor and Helen Kerwin O’Connor was born on April 17, 1927 in Syracuse, NY. A little too late to celebrate St Patrick’s Day that year, she made up for it in later years with a month’s long celebration, and a closet full of green, every March.

Following graduation from Syracuse Central High School in 1945, where she was a member of Lyceum Sorority, Helen attended Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA where she graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics. Helen faithfully served on the Seton Hill Alumnae Board for many years afterward.

A 1950 internship at Albany Hospital in Albany NY led to a lifelong career as a Registered Dietitian. In addition to launching her career, it was here that Helen met a number of “wonderful people from all over the country” who became and remained friends for the rest of their lives.

Helen began her career as a dietitian at St Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, before leaving to become Supervising Dietitian at Syracuse Psychiatric Hospital. She remained there for 27 years as the Hospital grew, moved to a larger campus and was renamed the Hutchings Psychiatric Center.

Those who knew and loved her will remember her best as an athlete. She played tennis and bowled well into her later years, but her true love was golf. Helen was a member for many years at Bellevue Country Club and then later joined Tuscarora Golf Club. She loved and excelled at the game of golf, and taught many if not most, of her nieces and nephews to play the game properly and to enjoy it even though none ever approached her level of play. She was a member of the Syracuse Women’s District Golf Association (SWDGA) and a four time winner of the Abbie Harper Bigelow 54 Hole Handicap Golf Tournament.

Never married, Helen none-the-less spent more time at school and youth events than most parents do. Her calendar overflowed with the little league, soccer, hockey, rugby, wrestling, lacrosse and track meets and games of all her nieces and nephews, as well as concerts, plays, first communions, graduations and birthdays. In later years her schedule included the activities of great- nieces and nephews. Helen was a steady presence in all our lives, ready to dispense advice and the occasional hard truth, always with love and most often with a taste of her sharp wit. Generous to a fault with her time and her worldly goods, she was, hands down, the greatest aunt who ever lived.

Nieces and nephews aside, we would be remiss not to mention the dogs. Helen loved her dogs and they were devoted to her. Somewhere, with tails wagging, Francoise, Dutchess, Molly, McGee and Kelley Judith are all waiting to welcome her home again one last time.

Predeceased by her parents, her brother, Sarsfield J O’Connor Jr, sisters, Margaret (O’Connor) Hopkins and Jeanne (O’Connor) Bowman, and nephews, Sarsfield J O’Connor III and J Conor Hopkins. Helen is survived by nieces and nephews, Kimberlee Bowman, James (Rosanne) Hopkins, Judith (Robert) Bowman-Abbott, Kevin (Seema) Hopkins, Peter Bowman, Kelley (Lisa) Hopkins, Darcy (Doug) Sedgwick, Kerry (Julie) Hopkins, Stephen (Maria) Bowman, Patrick O’Connor, Ronald (Chrissy) Bowman, Kerrin Hopkins, Megan (Mark) Wright, Kyle (Roberta) O’Connor, Erin (O’Connor) Werner as well as great, and great-great nieces and nephews.

 The family would like to thank the staff of Francis House for the loving care they provided in her last days.

Calling hours will be on Saturday, October 30th from 10:00-10:30 at Holy Cross Church in Dewitt. A celebration of the Mass will follow. Burial will be in St Mary’s Cemetery.

Contributions in her honor may be made to Francis House or Christian Brothers Academy.