Helen L. Volk, 90
BOSCAWEN — Helen Louise Volk, age 90, died peacefully on Jan. 4, 2017, at Merrimack County Nursing Home in Boscawen.
She was a former resident of Bow, and a longtime summer resident of Bear Island in Meredith.
Helen was born on Nov. 11, 1926, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, daughter of Jeremiah Sullivan and Helen Yunggebauer. She attended Lawrence public schools and Salem (Mass.) State Teacher's College, where she graduated in 1948 with a degree in elementary education.
Helen taught at the elementary level, primarily first grade, for more than 30 years. For Helen, teaching was both a passion and a delight. There are more than 1,000 children who directly benefited from her academic and life skills instruction. It was a constant source of joy to Helen that her daughter and both granddaughters followed her into the teaching profession. She was always ready to share a teaching tip or technique whenever they asked for her advice.
When her children were toddlers, Helen spent many summers camping out on her Bear Island land, teaching them about the natural world and adapting to the challenges — and opportunities — of extended living on undeveloped land. She especially enjoyed teaching the kids to swim, boat, cook and to be self sufficient. Helen's love of the outdoors and considerable array of practical skills was surely an influence on her three grandchildren, to actively participate in Scouting programs. She took great pride in seeing them attain the highest possible Scouting achievements.
Helen was a gifted seamstress, tailor, knitwear creator and hand-crafter. Many in the family benefited from these skills. A very significant interest for Helen was music, especially singing in the barbershop style. Throughout the years, she sang, directed, coached and wrote arrangements for many choruses. She also used her sewing skills to create numerous costumes for her Sweet Adeline colleagues. Helen was very proud to be a member of Profile Chorus, Lilac Chorus and a number of step-out quartets, singing lead or baritone with equal ease. She loved every minute of the time she spent in activities related in any way to barbershopping. Her closest friendships developed as a result of participation with these groups.
Another lifelong interest for Helen was also related to music. She was a longtime member of AMICA (Automated Musical Instrument Collectors Association) and MBSI (Music Box International Society) and served several terms as an officer of the local chapters of these organizations. Participation in these groups led to a significant amount of local and national travel.
Helen and her husband, Ken, had the opportunity to retire from their work lives while in their 50s, which provided the time to indulge their mutual passion for international travel. Many trips to Great Britain and Southern Europe then ensued, leading to great adventures and new friendships.
In 2011, when Helen's health occasioned her transition to permanent residence at Merrimack County Nursing Home, she did so most graciously. While in residence, she developed a keen knack for (gently) trouncing all comers at cribbage, SkipBo, Bingo and any word game. Several staff there were the beneficiaries of singing lessons and quite a few learned new and fun sing-along songs.
An excellent cook during her at-home years, Helen spent many hours organizing her extensive recipe collection for the benefit of future generations. An avid animal lover, she was very fond of opportunities to interact with her family's pets. Visits with her great-grandchild Otis were deeply cherished moments.
Helen's dry wit, sense of humor, and extreme grace in the face of the physical challenges of her illness were always quietly on display and deeply admired by anyone fortunate enough know her.
Helen is survived by her husband of 65 years, Kenneth; three children Alan (Robin) Volk, Karen (Ray) McCarty, and Gregory (Denise) Volk; grandchildren Shannon (Adam) Drapcho, Kerry McCarty and Torin Volk; great-grandson, Otis Drapcho; sister, Louise Love; brother, Richard Sullivan; and many nieces and nephews.
Helen was predeceased by brothers Herbert Sullivan and Jeremiah Sullivan.
The family wishes to thank all of those who so loving cared for her during her five-plus-year stay at Merrimack County Nursing Home.
Donations in Helen's honor may be made to the Merrimack County Nursing Home, 325 Daniel Webster Highway, Boscawen, NH 03303.
Arrangements will be provided by Bennett Funeral Home. Calling hours will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, followed at 3 p.m. by a memorial service at the funeral home. Burial will be at Evans Cemetery, in Bow, at the family's convenience in the spring.
Online condolences can be left on Helen's Memorial Tribute site at www.legacy.com.