Haverhill — Early in the morning of July 5, 2013, clearly awaiting the celebration and hubbub of the Fourth to subside and perhaps enjoying one last fireworks display, Helen Joan (Chwalek) St.Cyr fulfilled her earthly obligations and joined her departed family members and friends to her heavenly reward.
Born on October 7, 1920, to John and Catherine Chwalek, then of Lawrence, Helen joined siblings Edward, Joseph, Genevieve, Stanley, Charles and Frank, all now passed, in an active life of challenge, service and adventure.
Always looking to serve others, Helen attended the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing, earned her RN and embarked on a life of service to the ill and aged. She had hoped to serve our country as a nurse in the military, and although she was turned down for health reasons, managed to provide care to others professionally for over 45 years before retiring in her late 60’s, and continued well into her 80’s caring for family and friends.
Helen served as a teaching nurse and later as Charge Nurse at the Lawrence General Hospital, the Brooks School of North Andover as student nurse, and as Head Nurse at the Pine Crest Nursing Home, formerly in North Andover, and the Anlaw and the Mary Immaculate Nursing Homes, both in Lawrence. While at the Mass General, Helen served as a cub reporter to The Eagle-Tribune, reporting on the horrific Cocoanut Grove Fire and the care that she and others gave to the victims of that tragic event.
In addition to her professional pursuits, Helen loved to garden, and when able, to visit the beach at Plum Island or go birding at the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary. A devout Catholic, Helen enjoyed attending daily Mass and praying the Rosary. She was a Eucharistic Adorer and often went on retreats at the Monastery of the Precious Blood, Manchester, N.H. For many years she was an active member of Saint Michael’s Parish in North Andover and later at Saint Patrick’s Church in Pelham, N.H.
Helen was also a talented pianist and she truly embraced her Polish heritage. She was famous for cooking her pierogies and golumpkies as well as teaching her grandkids silly Polish songs, which she loved to have sung to her.
Known as "Babcia" to her numerous grand and great-grandchildren, Helen is also survived by her sons, Charles and Gerard, both of Haverhill, William of Methuen; and ever dedicated daughter, Ann Marie Johnston of Haverhill, who was at her bedside at her passing. In addition, son-in-law, Gerald Johnston and daughter-in-law, Michelle St. Cyr, gave dedicated love and care to Helen in her later years. Helen also leaves numerous nieces and nephews.
Special thanks are given to the dedicated staff at the Penacook Place in Haverhill where Helen spent her final years in residence.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend her funeral Mass on Monday, July 8, at 10 a.m. in St. Michael Church, North Andover. Interment will follow in the Ridgewood Cemetery, North Andover. Calling Hours will be held on Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Conte Funeral Home, 17 Third St., North Andover.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Penacook Place Memorial Fund, 150 Water St., Haverhill, MA 01830. For funeral home directions or to sign the family guest book, please visit www.contefuneralhomes.com.