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Helen Morse, born in St. Johnsbury, Vt., on May 12, 1929, to Walter and Clara Rodgers, passed away peacefully at the home of her daughter, Jan Morse, and husband Peter Gillespie in Essex Junction, Vt., on January 21, 2023.
Helen grew up with her brother, Walter Jr. (Sonny), and upon graduation worked at Fairbanks, Morse and Company until her marriage to Gordon Morse on January 5, 1952. They raised two children, Janice and Michael, while she also managed Gordon’s excavating business from their home.
My beautiful Mom. What a lovely, one-of-a-kind Energizer bunny of a woman she was! Always buzzing around yet always taking the time to show her limitless love for her family, close and extended, and to all her friends. And the kids! To all the kids she met along the way, especially the Pine St. Gang. Popcorn, Kool-Aid, removing slivers, pajama parties and using her kitchen timer to ensure that each of the 10 children on our street got an equal turn on the swings. And those glorious, noisy birthday parties! We are blessed that she took so many photos that we can now cherish forever.
Being so gregarious helped Mom through life’s ups and downs. But her move from St. Johnsbury to Essex Junction when she was 79 wasn’t easy for her. Along the way, she had lost her son, husband and parents. She gradually put down new roots, joining the Senior Center, attending numerous events and making new friends. We could barely keep track of her! She also attended all of our numerous potlucks and musical events. She was a regular at On Tap, especially when her dear friend Joe Moore was performing. She knew Danny Coane and Dennis Willmott, charmed Ray Vega at Juniper, enjoyed the sunsets at Breakwater Café, and saw Tony Bennett at the Flynn. She hosted both birthday and strawberry shortcake parties well into her eighties. And she grew to love her neighborhood. One day, she returned home to find the kids on her street lined up on her lawn, waiting for hugs.
Mom lived her last days as she lived her life, with dignity, grace, optimism and as much humor as she could muster.
Helen is survived by her daughter, Jan, and husband Peter; her beloved granddaughter, Cassidy, and husband Mitsu; and precious great-grandchildren Isabella and Indigo. Also surviving Helen are her much-loved nieces and nephews and their children; Peter’s brother, Bill; and his sister and brother-in-law, George Ann and Steven. She was predeceased by her parents, Walter and Clara; her husband, Gordon; their son, Michael; her brother, Walter Jr.; her grandniece, Sarah; and her in-laws, Robert and Marian Morse.
Thank you to all our family and friends who have been so caring and attentive during all our ups and downs, especially during these past three years. The phone calls, cards, messages, flowers and treats have all been so appreciated. Special thanks to Lucy, Patty, John Dawson, Cassidy, Joe, George Ann and Steven, Matt and Erica, Helen, Jr., and John Payne for your constant contact. And also to our wonderful caregivers Jennie, Christine and Betsy, along with many others. Our saviors!
I’m forever grateful to the University of Vermont Medical Center ICU staff, as well as staff on Miller 4 and McClure 6, who treated Mom like royalty during her numerous hospitalizations. Last but not least, the kind and compassionate angels at UVM Home Health & Hospice. Sandra, you’re the very best! Most of all, to my beautiful and loving husband, Peter, whom Mom adored and who became our rock as Mom aged.
There will be a celebration of Helen’s life in Essex Junction in the late spring. The date will be posted in March.
In Helen’s memory and if you are so inclined, please make a plan to stay in touch with your elderly neighbors, family members and friends. They can be so often overlooked.