Helen P. Battista, 103, of Farmington, died peacefully Sept. 29, 2018, with family by her side, in the home in which she was born and lived her entire life. Born April 21, 1915, she was the youngest and last surviving child of Joseph M. and Teresa B. Battista, originally of Lenola, Italy.
Helen attended Farmington schools, graduating from Farmington High School in 1932, at the age of 16, and then from Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington), in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1936, with a bachelor’s degree in education.
Immediately after graduation, she joined the faculty of Union School in Unionville, retiring after 30 years of service. This was followed by 10 years of employment in the life-underwriting department of Traveler’s Insurance Company
During World War II, she was a volunteer nurse’s aide with the Red Cross, stationed at St. Francis Hospital and at the Newington Veterans’ Hospital.
After war’s end, she continued volunteer service with the Red Cross in the blood donor program and in the transportation of the ill to medical appointments, and she continued doing this into her early 90s.
A daily communicant of St. Patrick Church, she was a past member of the parish council and a charter member and past president of St. Patrick Women’s Guild. She was also a member and past president of the Retreat League of Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington.
Helen loved creative activities. Her friends and family were the fortunate recipients of many examples of her fine needlepoint, reflecting her love for design, symmetry, and color, and graceful, antique chairs, which she refinished and canned or rushed, have enhanced many homes.
Blessed with a true “green thumb,” she kept her gardens lush with perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs, many of which she generously shared with all who were interested. Well into her 90s she continued to add new varieties annually to her plantings.
Helen traveled extensively to Europe (especially Italy), the Holy Land and within the United States. Her tales of these adventures were always entertaining, particularly of the mosquitoes “which were as large as helicopters.”
A loyal supporter of UConn women’s basketball, she looked forward eagerly to each of their games and followed the team record and individual player’s records closely.
Helen was a loving, supportive, involved “Auntie Helen” to four generations of very fortunate nieces and nephews. Their lives are painfully diminished by her absence. She was a fountain of love, wisdom, sound advice, good humor, and optimism.
Besides her parents, she was predeceased by five sisters, three brothers, three nephews, a grandnephew, and one great-grandnephew.
She is survived by four generations of nieces and nephews, first-generation nieces, Teresa Barton (Bristol), and Marianne Grace (Plainville); second-generation godson and grandnephew, Michael Barton and his wife, Elizabeth (Hartford), grandnephews/nieces, Christopher Barton (Burlington), Jan St. George (Southington), Peter Barton and his wife, Cheri (Bristol), Andrew Barton and his wife, Mary (Bristol), Bruce Canzanella and his wife, Cindy, (Monck’s Corner, S.C.), Jeanne Lovely and her husband, Peter (Torrington), Robert Canzanella (Windsor), Joseph Canzanella and his wife, Sally (Venice, Fla.), Louis Canzanella and his wife, Patricia (The Villages, Fla.); third-generation, 18 nieces and nephews; and fourth-generation, six nieces and nephews. The family would like to thank Helen’s aide, Evelyn Treadwell for her many years of caring service.
Friends may call at The Ahern Funeral Home, 111 Main St., Rt. 4, Unionville, on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 4-7 p.m. Funeral procession from The Ahern Funeral Home will be Friday, Oct. 5 at 9:15 a.m. followed by the Funeral Liturgy in the Church of St. Patrick, Farmington, at 10 a.m. Burial will be private at the convenience of the family.
If you wish to make a contribution in Helen’s name in lieu of flowers, the organizations that she supported included Food for the Poor, P.O. Box 979005, Coconut Creek, FL 33097-9005; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; Maryknoll Sisters, P.O. Box 317, Maryknoll, NY 10545; and St. Patrick’s Church, 110 Main St., Farmington, CT 06032. To send online condolences to the family, please visit www.ahernfuneralhome.com .