Helen Elizabeth Laughlin died on October 24, 2020 at the Tidewell Hospice House in Sarasota, Florida after a brief illness. She was born to Van and Blanche Laughlin of Westfield, NY on March 4, 1928. Helen graduated from Westfield Academy and Central School and then Duke University. Later she earned Master’s degrees from both SUNY Fredonia and Tulane University.
Helen had careers in elementary education and then in social work. She worked in Brockton, NY, Boston, MA and Knoxville, TN. In her later years, she settled in Sarasota where she worked as a hospice social worker and then spent her retirement years. Helen, a career woman and single mom at a time when that was not common, was deeply dedicated to her work and touched many lives through it. Her retirement was also rich and full of friends, fun and the pursuit of many and varied interests.
Helen was predeceased by her two brothers, Herbert Laughlin and Robert Laughlin, by her first husband, Gordon Beckman and by her loving partner Richard Croup. She was the mother of Dawn Beckman (Millie) of Leverett, MA, Kim Beckman (George) of Toronto, ON and Grant Beckman (Judy) of Antrim, NH. She was the grandmother of Megan Beckman, Allyson Beckman, Ben Sommer (Katie), Maya Sommer, Zachary Korn, Ari Korn, Adam Popper (Julie), Niki Popper (Tim) and Lydiane Gnonsio (Momo). She was the great grandmother of Lazlo, Emanuel, Lev, Ezri and Kimberly. She was an adventuresome mother and grandmother and was keenly interested in everything her “troops” were up to.
Helen had deep love for her family, and for her many friends. She kept up with them through regular phone calls, emails, cards for every occasion, and texts with lots of emojis. Helen was truly a person for whom a stranger was a friend she had not yet met. Helen struck up acquaintanceships easily and often: with neighbors, at church, and in waiting rooms, on planes or just walking down the street.
Helen was always graceful and elegant. She was vibrant, alive and just a little off beat. Helen usually dressed in black with just a splash of teal and fuchsia, wearing her signature pendants and scarves with panache. She spoke softly and gently, and sometimes quite emphatically. Her interests and pursuits included theater and art, often of the edgy variety; Tai Chi; playing Ma Jong with her friends; recording her dreams, and exploring multiple spiritual traditions.
Helen was always curious, open and engaged with the world around her. She read widely and followed the news closely. Having lived through WWII and so many extraordinary world events, she brought perspective and understanding to discussions of the turbulent events of today. She had a fundamentally sunny, optimistic disposition and a deep Christian faith and believed that she could contribute to making the world a better place. And so she did, through her work, through social action and through loving and supporting so many in her long and beautiful life.
A celebration of Helen’s life will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:00 pm. The service will be conducted through the Sarasota Unitarian Universalist Church. For the Zoom meeting number, please email KimBeckman57@gmail.com
. If you would like details to phone into the service please call Kim Beckman at (416)605-7344.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to an organization of your choice or to the Tidewell Hospice Foundation at www.tidewellhospice.org