Helen A. Heaney passed away peacefully Oct. 22, 2019, with a number of family members by her side.She was born in Laurel, N.Y., Oct. 25, 1932, to John and Anna (Shepish) Sobieray.
She was predeceased by her parents; her siblings John Jr., Mary Jane Lewin and Florence Brandi; sons-in-law Robert Wallace and Jeffrey Bubb; as well as her great-grandson Benjamin. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, John; her seven daughters: Katherine (Robert), Gwendolyn (Garry), Theresa (Jeff), Rosemarie (Keith), Annemarie (Kenneth), Patricia (John) and Jennifer (Edward Jr.); 13 grandchildren: Gregory (Linda), Jacquelyn (Kurt), Nicole (Charlie), Jack, Shawn, Callie, Jeffrey (Kasey), Kristen, Kassandra (Mace), Natalie, Stephen, Jenna and Emily; as well as six great-grandchildren: Nicholas, Charles, Camden, Shane, Garrett, Katrina, Jeffrey, Brady and another one on the way.
The woman who would eventually go by the affectionate moniker “Nanny” relocated in 1943 to Greenport, where she would spend the rest of her life. As fate would have it, she left the Greenport High School sophomore Christmas party with Jack in 1948, which was the start of their 71-year journey together. Helen and Jack received the sacrament of marriage Aug. 22, 1953, when Jack was on a two-week leave from the USS Norfolk.
Helen devoted her life to her family and the surrounding community. There are many people who talk about making the world a better place. Helen was not much for talk; she spoke with her actions. She was a woman with binary sense of right and wrong, combined with the strongest of wills.
A long tradition at Greenport High School was the senior trip to Washington, D.C. In 1951, segregation was still in full effect in the south and African-American students from Greenport were not permitted in the pools at the hotel as well as certain restaurants. Helen decided that if her friends were not welcome, she did not want to be a part of it either. Instead, she opted to stay at the hotel with her roommate as a silent protest of an unjust system.
Helen was a dedicated communicant of St. Agnes Parish, serving as the CCD coordinator for over 25 years. There are multiple generations of Catholics that went through St. Agnes religious education system who have Mrs. Heaney stories.
In addition she was a Girl Scout leader for 30 years. Always willing to go the extra mile, she was in charge of Girl Scout cookie distribution for the North Fork. At one point, so many boxes of cookies were delivered to 511 Bailey Ave., they would not bring them inside the house for fear of compromising the structural integrity of her home. Furthermore, for many years she coordinated the Memorial Day dock service in Greenport.
A Porter through and through, she assisted with the GHS All Class Reunion from its inception and is a part of that event’s success. It is only fitting, since she had a vast amount of experience after helping to coordinate the Heaney family reunion for over 60 years.
Helen never got a driver’s license, so it was not uncommon to see her riding her blue Schwinn, complete with empty saddle baskets, downtown to work at Brasstown, Shirtshack or Basketworks. (The saddle baskets were full on her way home after she stopped at the grocery store before on her way back from work.)
Helen and Jack were not people of extraordinary means, especially with seven daughters to raise, yet that never stopped them from helping those that were less fortunate than they were. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, plates were always made for community members who did not have meals to eat. Helen even set up a Head Start program in her home to help prepare preschoolers for kindergarten; keep in mind this was with seven of her own children in the house.
Throughout her 66-year marriage to Jack, her main focus was always her family. The impact she has had on each member of her family is unquantifiable and the loss that is currently felt is immeasurable. Since her death, the entire family has spent their time recalling the countless moments of joy that they have shared with her. She had her own special relationship with each of her children, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Although the magnitude of her loss is devastating to her family, there will come a day when the intense sadness and tears that fall now will turn to smiles of joy in time, as her family carries forward with her memories trying to uphold the examples and expectations she has set, which is a fitting tribute to the legacy created by how she led her life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to B. Timothy, Shawn T., Kerry P. Heaney Memorial Scholarship, 532 Whiteleysburg Road, Harrington, DE.
This is a paid notice.