Helen E. Chamberlain, 89, formerly of Madison, Maine, passed away peacefully on Monday (March 19, 2018) at the Seneca Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Waterloo, New York.
A Celebration of Life and interment at Riverview Cemetery in Phelps, New York in honor of Helen is being planned for later this Spring.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made In Memory of Helen Chamberlain to the Village of Clifton Springs Historical Society/Foster Cottage Museum, 9 East Main St., Clifton Springs, NY 14432; or to the Finger Lakes Land Trust, 220 East Court St., Ithaca, NY 14850.
Born on November 6, 1928, a daughter of Alvin and Bernice Wagner, she graduated from Madison Area Memorial High School and then received her Registered Nursing Degree. As she started her nursing career, she met Clair Chamberlain, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran and University of Maine graduate who taught at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. They were married on April 12, 1952 in Madison, Maine by the Reverend Robert Haldane. In 1957, she moved to Clifton Springs, New York with Clair and sons John and James (Jim), where Clair taught at Clifton Springs High School. In 1959, the growing family bought their first and only home on Teft Avenue in Clifton Springs where eight boys were raised. Helen was a Cub Scout Den Mother many times over, helped her boys with their newspaper routes, designed last-minute costumes for school plays, assisted with dozens of school science projects, and was active in school events including the Parent-Teachers Association. She refereed thousands of backyard baseball, football, kite-flying, and hide-and-seek contests – and ensured homework was finished every day after school. In her Nursing career, she worked for many years at the Clifton Springs Hospital and Sanitarium, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, and as a private nurse for a few local families. She often worked the night shift – so that she would be home to send the boys off to school in the morning and there again in the afternoon to supervise homework and prepare supper. Her almost 50 years of nursing culminated in 10 years serving our Veterans in the Canandaigua Veterans Administration Medical Center. She animatedly talked about how she had played soccer as a young co-ed in the late 1940’s – especially as she saw her children and grandchildren pick up the sport. She determinedly studied for her Bachelors and Masters Degree at Hobart and William Smith in the 1970’s, including traveling to the Soviet Union as part of her Russian Studies course just as the country opened its borders to tourists. She learned how to paint biscuit or bisque pottery and developed her unique colors and style of pottery. And she loved to camp, especially on many trips to visit family in Maine, as well as throughout the Finger Lakes Region of New York. She would make the exact number of egg salad sandwiches necessary for the family for a trip to Maine – picnicking from the trunk of the car at rest stops and gas stations. She always talked of camping on the 4th of July, her second most favorite holiday, after Christmas.
She is survived by her eight sons John, Jim, (Karen), Mark, Daniel (Katie), David (Juline), Eric (Tijen), Brett, and Tom; six grandchildren Christopher, Devon, Ellasun, Holly, Sami and Ansel; her brother, Alvin Wagner (June) of Readfield, Maine; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and their families. She will be missed by all.
She was predeceased by Clair after almost 50 years of marriage, as well as ten of her eleven siblings.