Helen Didriksen of Nantucket, Southold, N.Y., and Little Gasparilla Island, Fla., and for 40 years a resident of Riverside, Conn., died March 27 at age 77.
She was born Dec. 1, 1940, in Oceanside, L.I., N.Y., the daughter of Henry Christopher and Caroline Burtis Elfers. She attended public schools there, and graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1962. She earned masters degrees at New York University in music education and in American History.
Helen’s primary focuses in life were music, history, and her four children. She created many lecture-concerts on the art song which were given throughout the greater New York area. Each concert centered on a different composer and was augmented with projected slides, a discussion of the composer and the times, and her solo soprano performance. She was accompanied by the noted pianist, Ernest Rustia, She also sang lighter music with the Decibelles and Song Folk, off-shoots of the Greenwich Junior Woman’s Club, and with singer-guitarist Marge York. She retired from singing in 1996 with an all day, four concert series on Charles Ives. When she and her husband moved to Nantucket in 2006 she resumed her singing with the Women’s Chorus of Nantucket and the Nantucket Community Chorus.
She was a volunteer researcher at the historical societies of Greenwich, Nantucket, and especially Southold, where she created several lectures and exhibition catalogues and was a trustee.
She met Philip Didriksen, her husband-to-be, in 1963. She was a reporter for the newspaper in Greenwich, Conn., and he was a financial analyst in New York. They had common interests in opera, classical concerts, and the theatre. They were married the next year and lived in Greenwich Village in the quaint and famous narrowest house in New York City. Two years later they moved into a house in Riverside, Conn. that was large enough for the four children that they were to have. It was their home for 40 years.
They joined the Riverside Yacht Club and were active one-design sailboat racers in their Flying Scot for many years. They also engaged in extensive family sailboat cruising, both by charters and on their 41’ ketch, Lady K, in Southern New England, Maine, Nova Scotia, the Caribbean and the Chesapeake. She loved Vermont. Every year they rented homes there for the winter for family weekend skiing. She provided constant and caring support for her children. There were countless birthday parties, swim meets, soccer and baseball games, school plays, and music lessons.
She is survived by her husband of 54 years and by her four children: Bradford (and his companion, Paula), Michael (and his wife, Leah), Stephen, and Katherine (and her husband, Brandon Barone) and also by six grandchildren: Evan Didriksen-Johnson; Jacob, Samuel and Isabella Didriksen; and Ainsleigh and Ian Brezac. She was predeceased by her parents and a brother, William, who died as a teenager.
At her request, there will be no memorial service and burial will be private. Donations may be made in her name to the Southold Historical Society and to the Nantucket Music Center.
This is a paid notice.