With family by her side, Helen Bennett passed away peacefully at Wellington Terrace, Fergus, on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at the age of 81.
Helen is survived and will be deeply missed by her children - daughters Erin Bennett (Jim Dunbar) of Toronto, ON, Jeanne Bennett of Glen Ridge, NJ, Martha Bennett (Cory Hertle) of Minneapolis, MN and son Rhys Bennett (Renee Roy) of Guelph, ON. Fun-loving Nana to Marcus, David, Eric, Andrew, Owen, Kate, Eleanor and Meghan and step-Nana to Spencer and Keeley. Beloved sister to John Miller Durdan (Cindy), Liz Durdan and aunt and cousin to many other cherished family members in the Bennett, Durdan and Langstaff families. Predeceased by her infant baby John Miller Bennett, brother Frederick John Durdan of Mississauga and loving parents, Dorothy Davidson (Miller) and Frederick Smith Durdan of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple...”
If you had the good fortune to know our Mom, you'll know how well this poem suited her. She loved it. Purple always was her favourite colour, but it was so very much more than that.
Helen was born in 1941 in St. Catharines, Ontario. She grew up in a beautiful home on River Road in Niagara Falls where you could hear the thunder of The Falls as you went to sleep. She was the “belle of the ball” and the desire of many suiters at both NFCVI and Queen’s (Arts ’63) where she attended school. Her parents taught her the importance of family bonds, of keeping a stiff upper lip and the values of her Scotch-English heritage. She loved telling stories of raking leaves and finding arrowheads under the sprawling oak trees at home. She especially recalled her days finding four-leafed clovers at Uncle John Miller’s farm, Blair Gowrie in Ashburn, while studying for her exams at Queen's.
Helen had a brave heart and sense of adventure that led her and her newly-wed husband Michael Bennett to drive a school bus across Canada, and later to pack up their young family and courageously forage across Western Europe for a year in a VW camper van. And even though her life wasn’t without adversity and fair share of personal challenges, she lovingly raised her four children as a single mother with a keen sense of independence, how to stretch a dollar and to find pleasure in experiences rather than things.
Helen went on to earn her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Toronto and started her career as a social worker helping people. She loved her adopted city of St. Catharines and in a second career, worked hard to promote its image in the tourism business. Whether she was packing seagull feathers into invitations to the “Wing Ding” or espousing the marvels of the Welland Canal, she put her love of life and people into her career.
When friends wrote to her on the occasion of her 80th birthday, all remembered the same thing. Her extraordinary kindness and ability to make somebody feel seen and at ease with her, whether she had known them for a few years or just a few minutes. She was a deep lover of animals, children and all things beautiful and never missed a moment to wonder at the small beauties in life.
In her retirement years, Helen moved to Guelph, Ontario and made many friends at the Chartwell, Royal on Gordon Retirement Residence. In her final year she resided at the Wellington Terrace in Fergus, where she regularly charmed the staff and was well known for her spunk and spitfire for telling them exactly what she wanted or did NOT want. We will all miss her laugh, her genuine love of family and her twinkling lights at Christmas.
A special note of gratitude to the amazing staff and caregivers in the Walnut Grove neighbourhood of Wellington Terrace. Their compassion and care for Mom and our family went beyond anything we could have asked for or imagined.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life will be held later this summer. If so desired, memorial donations to the Wellington Terrace, Fergus, Ontario would be appreciated by the family. Online donations and condolences can be made at www.gilbertmacintyreandson.com.