AKRON — Born to Howard Julius and Sadie Ruetenik in Cleveland, May 25, 1923, Helen Joyce Armstrong, after a sudden illness, passed away peacefully May 7, 2009, in Akron.
A graduate of Orwell High School, class of 1941, she attended Floristone Mather before transferring to OSU where she was a member of Alpha Delta Phi Sorority. She would later complete her studies and receive her BA in music education from Ohio Northern University in 1968, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.
Helen married the love of her life, William David Armstrong, in 1945, raising four lovely daughters.
Throughout most of her life, Helen enjoyed summering at Heidleberg Beach on the Lake Erie shore. She also lived in Bloomfield, Ada, was choir director at both Urbana and Eaton Presbyterian churches, teaching elementary music in Eaton and Mechanicsburg.
Helen and “WD” settled in Mount Vernon in 1976, a town each loved as much as their native Ohio. Proud Buckeyes both!
After WD’s death in ’84, Helen took on new roles, benefiting many organizations and individuals. She was a Soroptimist, reading tutor, a volunteer with Hospice of Knox County, Vista, Kingwood Center and Owl Creek Conservancy, Kenyon College Festival Theater, Malabar Farm State Park, Knox County Democratic Women, participant in The Women’s Health Research Initiative, and Essential Tremor Foundation, even a Nielsen TV household.
Helen was an irascible founding member of “ONE Again” and “The Fun Bunch.”
Helen loved music! An enthusiastic member and patron of the Knox County Symphony, from 1977 to October of 2008, she earned her violinist chair every season! She cherished her time with the community of musicians.
Helen used her grief over Bill’s death, first to help women, later to explore end of life issues. To that end she was co-founder and director of Women In Focus with Inter-Faith. Involving herself in Hospice, Helen was an accredited Death, Dying and Grief Counselor — studying with Center for Loss in Colorado. Her kindness touched many.
Helen’s youthful attitude, pioneering spirit, and inquisitive intellect was evident by her multiple talents and interests. World Class Baker and culinarian. Avid gardener and “student Horticulturist” (her home a garden!). Political activist and Patriot. Lover of Art. Lifelong reader. World traveler.
Her journey of self discovery lead to, in her words, “Being who I am.” A self-described optimist, Helen always said she liked her middle name because it had “Joy” in it. And it was fitting.
Preceded in death by her beloved WD and sister, Elaine Rasmussen.
Helen is survived by sisters, Virginia Phillippi of Arizona and Sally Wolfe of Florida; daughters, Annabelle Haas, Marianne Armstrong, Katherine and husband Michael Shreve, Susan Armstrong and husband Tom Wagner; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, cousins across the country.
To honor Helen a memorial will be held Monday, May 25, from 2 p.m. on at 708 E. Gambier Ave., Mount Vernon. This will also mark what would have been her 86th birthday.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Knox County Symphony or Hospice of Knox County.
Helen was like and loved by all who knew her. She will be sadly missed.
We love you Mother!