A life remembered -- Garvey was committed to her family

April 10, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Helen Jean Garvey, who died April 2 at the age of 82. Her obituary appeared in the April 4 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

CLEAR SPRING - It rained most of the morning on Saturday, April 2, but just about the time Helen Jean Garvey passed away surrounded by her family, the sky suddenly cleared and the sun came out.

"It was just about the time Pope John Paul II died," said Bill Garvey, Helen's only son. "We remarked she had a really good escort."

Throughout her life, Helen devoted her time, her energy and her love to family and friends.


"We would all get together for every occasion," said daughter Betty Grove. "Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays - whatever it was, she wanted us all around her."

Born in Westernport in Allegany County, Helen married and had three children, Bill, Sandra and Betty. The family was living across from the American Legion in Clear Spring when Helen suddenly found herself raising her three youngsters by herself.

Betty, the youngest, was 10 when that happened.

"After dad left, mom worked at Pittman's Grocery in Hancock for a while," Bill said. "Then, she got a job at the Maryland Ribbon Company - she retired from there."

Even after she retired, Helen still kept active, working part time at The Bon-Ton wrapping gift packages. Toward the end of her life, she lived on Manse Road with Bill.

Even as a child, Bill said he remembers that his mother always spent a lot of time with her children. He recalled that he and his two sisters always tried to have good grades.

"You wanted to do well for her," Bill said.

As they grew older, sisters Betty and Sandra met and married brothers, Gary and Bob Grove, respectively.

"We each had two children - first a girl and then a boy - the same number of years apart," Betty said.

That made Helen very happy, since the addition of four grandchildren meant she had more family to love and spend time with, especially around the table.

"At Christmastime, we would draw names for presents and she loved getting the grandchildren's names," Betty said.

Son-in-law Gary Grove said once he joined the family in 1970, Helen never missed his birthday with a card.

Helen also devoted time and energy to the Loyal Order of the Eastern Star, which she first joined in Hancock.

An international fraternal organization, Eastern Star is for women and men with specific Masonic affiliations.

Helen belonged to the Queen Esther Chapter No. 3 of the Loyal Order of the Eastern Star and had served as worthy matron during her 50-year membership.

"There used to be 100 or more chapters, but now I believe there are about 56 chapters left," Betty said.

Helen was proud of her affiliation with the organization, which regularly donated money to causes such as veterans' groups and burn centers.

"She never went anywhere without wearing one of her two Eastern Star rings - either the silver or the gold," Bill said.

As the family began sorting through Helen's things, Bill said he was amazed at some of the discoveries.

"In her jewelry box, we found duplicates of things I had gotten her through the years," Bill said. "She always loved whatever I got her and never said anything if she had others of the same thing."

Helen's love of flowers, especially pansies and anything purple, was well-known in the family and beyond. Betty and Bill said many of the flowers brought by friends at their mother's April 6 funeral reflected that preference.

Helen's devotion to family didn't end with her death.

"We have eight plots in St. Paul's Cemetery in Clear Spring," Betty said. "The plots of all three of her children are encircling her there, too, just the way she wanted us - together."

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