Hearing of Helen's passing- a few months after my father's death (he'd turned 83 in February, and died in May 2013), shocked and saddened me unbelievably. Helen was so active and energetic throughout her life that I thought she'd go on forever. Indeed, she had so many new ideas to impart with her characteristic passion and assiduousness, that she contributed two chapters (as opposed to the routine one per author) to my International Handbook of Gender and Poverty as recently as 2010!
Helen's book Sex and Class in Latin America (1976) (co-edited with June Nash) was a Godsend when I embarked on my PhD on gender and housing at UCL in 1981, at which time dedicated literature on gender in Latin America was scant in the extreme), and just before I submitted my thesis in 1984 I came across a completely original and illuminating piece she'd written in 1964 on family structure and low-income housing in Puerto Rico (in the journal Caribbean Studies) which drove home just how pioneering her work was from her graduate days, and which was a vital - if overdue- inclusion in my dissertation.
I first met Helen in person at LASA 1997 in Guadalajara, after which she joined Mercedes Gonzalez de la Rocha, Lucy Wartenburg, Lucero Garcia and me on a little trip to Puerto Vallarta, during which she proved to be amazing company, was relentlessly up for late nights and laughter, and put us all to shame when it came to the fine arts of merengue. Helen also gave another demonstration of her dancing skills when she came to the SLAS Annual Conference in 1999, my last year as President.
Over the years Helen became a very dear friend and colleague, and wrote more references and endorsements for me than I am able to remember.
I will miss her profoundly, in so many ways, but she will be an eternal light in Latin American gender scholarship. I continue to cite her, as I know generations of scholars and students will persist in so doing.
Un gran abrazo muy querida Helen
Here's the text I read at Helen's memorial service in Gainesville on December 21.
Years before I met Helen Safa, I had a powerful image of her. The image came from a photograph featured in her classic 1974 book, "The Urban Poor of Puerto Rico," translated as "Familias del arrabal" in 1980. In that photograph, Helen appears as a radiant Amazonian woman, with her signature grin and a colorful dress, carrying a Puerto Rican child, probably from a public housing project in Santurce, where she conducted fieldwork for her doctoral dissertation between 1959 and 1960.
That's why I immediately recognized her when I first met her at an Old San Juan café, during a feminist meeting one night in the early 1980s. As a graduate student beginning my own research on the Island, I was initially in awe of Helen's physical and academic stature. But her informality and approachability quickly made me feel at ease.
During the next three decades, I got to know her well and at some point became one of her "adopted sons and daughters," a network of scholars in the social sciences and the humanities scattered throughout the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Like any good mother, Helen kept in constant contact to nurture us intellectually, connect us to each other, and sometimes scold us for having missed this or that conference or for not publishing that article she liked so much in a decent journal.
I was never Helen's formal student—like other accomplished anthropologists and sociologists such as María Patricia Fernández-Kelly, Lynn Bolles, Yolanda Prieto, Mary Garcia Castro, Liliana Cotto, or Carmen Angélica Pérez—and I therefore don't feel the loyalty or gratitude of a true disciple. Furthermore, I didn't specialize in the study of women and development, like my esteemed Puerto Rican colleagues Alice Colón-Warren, María del Carmen Baerga, Luz del Alba Acevedo, and Luisa Hernández Angueira, or the Dominican sociologists Magaly Pineda and Milagros Ricourt, and the Cuban sociologist Marta Núñez, who built on and expanded Helen's insights in their own work.
Nevertheless, I recognize Helen's enormous intellectual and professional influence on my academic career. My Ph.D. dissertation on the Cuban community in Puerto Rico extensively cites her pioneering ethnography of San Juan. As I wrote my thesis, I incorporated her early essays on Caribbean migration and cultural identity in my analysis. Somewhere I still keep a memorable letter Helen wrote me in the mid-1980s, congratulating me for publishing one of my first articles on salsa music. She later chaired the search committee that brought me to Gainesville to work as Assistant Director of the Center for Latin American Studies in 1987-88. Helen and her first husband Manou helped my wife Diana and I feel at home in Gainesville. She and her second husband John were the perfect hosts during my stint as a Visiting Scholar at UF in 2007.
Many of Helen's research and teaching interests coincided with my own, including urban anthropology, Caribbean studies, migration, ethnicity, nationalism, race, and popular culture. When Helen retired in 1997, I felt as if I had inherited some of her main intellectual concerns—but that was too heavy a burden to bear. Fortunately, Helen continued to write, publish, present papers, and travel around the globe, accompanied by John. She remained extremely active in the anthropological profession as well as in the interdisciplinary field of Latin American and Caribbean studies for 16 years after her official retirement. We often saw each other at academic events in places as far away from each other as Gainesville, San Juan, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, and Amsterdam. I struggled to keep up with Helen, who always managed to take on a new research project, a lecture to give in a different country, or another colleague she wanted to collaborate with.
Anyone close to Helen knew how important were ties of reciprocity, solidarity, and mutual aid for her—as they were for many of the Caribbean women she studied for more than five decades—as well as her generous encouragement of younger scholars and graduate students, especially women from the Caribbean and particularly from Puerto Rico. The word "mentor" describes well this facet of Helen's legacy. Her numerous contributions to anthropology, women's and gender studies, and Latin American and Caribbean studies are not limited to her extensive publications, but encompass a whirl of teaching, lecturing, leading seminars, organizing conference panels, tutoring and supervising theses, raising funds, mounting campaigns, serving on numerous professional committees and advisory boards, writing letters of recommendation and evaluations for tenure and promotion, and—according to some Dominican sources—even supporting popular struggles against dictatorial regimes. A dynamic public intellectual, she never divorced her academic work from her practical commitments as a citizen.
For myself, I can attest to her untiring efforts to insert Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in the conceptual map of the U.S. academy, which still pays relatively little attention to the region. She was a staunch believer in institutionalizing Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latino Studies in the United States, as well as a promoter of social change, equality, and justice for the people she studied, identified with, and loved so dearly. Contrary to many other U.S. scholars, Helen continued to travel back to Puerto Rico, actively engaged with the Island's intellectuals, and kept abreast of recent developments there. Thus, she often returned to her roots as a young scholar with a broad smile and embracing a child from a poor neighborhood in San Juan, which is how I'll always remember her.
Helen came to be a part of my life, not gradually as with most relationships, but rather with the force of a full blown hurricane! For Helen never did things half-heartedly, she was fully committed to all and whom she cared about. This characterized most things Helen did whether it was her scholarship, friends, family or mentoring students and scholars. Indeed, Helen loved passionately and her radiant smile would light up a room -- in fact, few could say "no" to Helen when she flashed that smile! Helen was many things to me, but above all she was my friend. She was generous to a fault; nor was she hesitant to sort me out if she thought I needed it. She truly lived her life "big"; her death leaves a void and a silence that cannot be filled. She was one of a kind, and I will miss her dearly.
Dear Mitra, John, and all members of the Safa family:
Helen was a very close friend and a big part of my life for some three decades. I extend my deepest sympathies to each of you for her loss. Her dynamism and contributions to people's lives and worthy causes far and wide were such that I am sure that we will cherish her memory for a very long time.
I attach my words at her Celebration of Life event on a separate message.
Love and peace,
Carmen Diana Deere's comments at Helen Safa's Celebration of Life event, December 21, 2013, Gainesville, FL
A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN HELEN:
When Helen asked me to speak at her memorial service, she had two requests: that the event be fun & enjoyable, and that I try to be funny. [I would thus be very grateful if you laughed at my jokes]. I want to share 2 stories with you, one about how Helen & I first met, and then about how she came to be called “Queen Helen”.
In 1972 Helen, June Nash and Elsa Chaney were commissioned by the Social Science Research Council to do a tour of Latin America to find out who was working on the status of women. As June Nash—her fellow anthropologist and life-long friend-- wrote in her tribute to Helen—at that time the work of women scholars in LA was rarely cited and very few of them were known outside their own country. They identified 20 scholars (18 women & 2 men) and subsequently invited them to the first academic conference on women in LA, held in Buenos Aires in 1974, and then as a follow-up, to teach in a 2-month research & training workshop for graduate students in Cuernavaca, Mexico that summer. The conference & workshop were titled “Feminine Perspectives on Latin America”, for which they were later criticized for not using the term “Feminist perspectives,” but as June reports “they didn't think men [the funders] were ready for that forceful a statement.”
The conference served as the basis for Helen & June's first co-edited book, Sex and Class in Latin America, the first compilation of studies on gender from across Latin America, published simultaneously in both English & Spanish. As Magdalena León, a Colombian feminist scholar, writes in her tribute to Helen, their networking was “visionary” and this book constituted the “point of departure” for the field of gender studies in Latin America.
I heard about the Cuernavaca workshop while a graduate student at Berkeley and the timing couldn't have been more perfect since I was searching for a dissertation topic. The application form asked for a lot of detail, like where you were born and had grown up and I dutifully filled it out, noting that my mother was Puertorican and that I grew up on the island. What I didn't know was that they wanted a particular combination of participants: 1/3 from LA, 1/3 Latinas, and only 1/3 Anglo grad students – reflecting their awareness that the study of women IN L.A. could be politically sensitive as well as their commitment to be inclusive of Latin Americans. The months went by and then one day out of the blue I get a phone call from Helen and the very first thing she says to me –in that very direct way of hers-- is “Carmen: Are you REALLY Puertorican?”
After suffering an identity crisis from that incident, I did make it to Cuernavaca where I finally met Helen in person as well as her 10-year old daughter Mitra who was forced to live in a motel with all these feminists, bored to tears, for the summer. I also met Marianne Schmink, a fellow student, and later on that summer, Chuck Wood. Little did I imagine forty years ago the profound influence that Helen would have on my life or that the four of us would all end up in GNV at the UF Center for LAS. My parents still attribute my being hired at UF to Helen's influence, although such took place a number of years after her retirement. They are surely correct, though, in terms of the mentoring that I received from Helen throughout my professional career.
As a mentor and networker, Helen was unrivaled, as the many testimonials to her attest. Paola Aleman, a Nicaraguan feminist scholar now at McGill, writes that “Helen cared about the subjects that she studied, but as important, she cared deeply about supporting Latin American women scholars, nurturing our own growth and evolution as researchers.”
Helen was also committed to changing the male-centric practices of institutions, including our own interdisciplinary professional organization, the Latin American Studies Association. It may be hard to believe today, but as historian Meg Crahan reminds us in her tribute to Helen, on the 1973 LASA program NO WOMEN appeared as presenters, nor were there any women candidates for the LASA Executive Council. Helen along with Meg and a few others thus established the Women's Caucus of Latin Americanists, the precursor of what would later become the Task Force on Women and today's Gender & Feminist Studies section. Ten years later, Helen became President of LASA. In 2007 she was the third woman to receive LASA's highest recognition for academic and professional accomplishments, the Kalman Silvert Award.
As Susanne Jonas, a fellow rebel-rouser in LASA, writes: “Helen was a unique combination of public intellectual and expert scholar, feminist and vibrant role model. She paved the way for generations of women throughout the hemisphere to fulfill their potential.”
Now, to how Helen got the name “Queen Helen”…
Ofelia has already mentioned Helen's passion for Cuba and her pioneering role in bridging the academic divide between US and Cuban scholars. Upon her arrival at UF as Director of the Center, these activities with Cuba quickly drew the attention of some in the Florida legislature, who were determined to stop them, leading to her being dubbed “the Red Queen”. I met one of these former representatives in Miami many years later, a veteran of the Bay of Pigs, who proudly told me that he was responsible “for that Communist Director at the Center” stepping down under the threat of UF funding being cut. It's not clear to this day whether this was the way it all went down; Helen did move on from being Center Director to launching the Center's Caribbean program which she directed until her retirement in 1997. Our colleague Efrain Barradas, who couldn't be with us today, was the one who began to refer to Helen as “Queen Helen.” And Helen would laugh in delight in that special way of hers…
So to conclude,
Queen Helen – PRESENTE!!
Dear Carmen Diana, John, Lynn and Jean:
Antonio Lauria and I regret that we are unable to attend the December 21st memorial ceremony for Helen. However, we wish to share a few memories, which hopefully you will pass on to her children.
Helen has been a long-time anthropology colleague who became a friend.
Antonio first met Helen in the 1950s in Puerto Rico when she was carrying out her initial urban
research and he also was engaged in research there. I met her in the late 60s when she became a
professor at Rutgers University and I was a Professor at New York University. An academic interest
in the Caribbean arose during this time due to the extensive Caribbean migration to New York city in
the mid-1960s. This led to both formal and informal conferences about the Caribbean where Helen and
I would meet. While Helen's research interests focused on the Hispanic Caribbean and later extended
to Brazil and the wider Latin America, mine focused on the Anglophone Caribbean and West Africa.
This resulted in our making interesting comparisons.
With the rise of the feminist movement in the early 1970s, our meetings dramatically increased as
did the issues we selected to research and to discuss when we met, including the ways we were
affected during this period by being mothers of young children and married to men of middle eastern
backgrounds. However, it was in 1985 that our relationship became closer as we worked together in
organizing sessions for the 1985 International Women's Conference held in Nairobi in July, followed
by a week-long Wenner-Gren Conference, held a few month later, entitled “A Decade of Women's
Collective Actions: Anthropological Perspectives,” held in Mijas, Spain. We brought women from
India, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere to discuss different forms and strategies of
social movements and how to develop a cross-cultural framework for understanding and organizing
women's movements globally. We agreed that it was one of the most exciting conferences we had attended.
From thereon, Helen and I would meet in Barbados, Cuba, or Puerto Rico in course of being invited
to conferences or to give talks. And after Helen retired, we would see her and John Dumoulin in New
York City, where we live, at least once or twice a year when they came to visit. We would always get
together and catch up on things happening generally and in the Caribbean.
We admire Helen for her energy, her output, and the issues she addressed. As she wrote in a copy of
Caribbean Studies dedicated to her which she gave us: “for our profound love of the Caribbean and
its people.” We will deeply miss her visits.
Connie Sutton and Antonio Lauria
Words fail me. Helen was such a great and wonderful friend. She let me tag along for experiences that I would not have pursued on my own. She opened my mind. She always was eager and happy to share with others the many things that she had learned. I don't think I ever thanked Helen enough for what she did for me. Helen will be greatly missed.
Queridos Carmen Diana, John y familia de Helen:
Como te comunique anteriormente no puedo asistir a la reunión para honrar la vida de Helen el 21 de este mes. Su muerte y no poder estar presente para celebrar su vida me causan profunda tristeza y traen a mi memoria muy gratos recuerdos y remembranzas de su vida y su amistad.
Quiero decir, y dejar muy claro, que para mi generación de feministas Helen fue sin lugar a dadas piedra fundacional de nuestra capacitación, compromiso, entusiasmo y persistencia en la investigación y la acción colectiva en pro de las mujeres. La reunión pionera de Cuernavaca y el seminario realizado en Buenos Aires que Helen y June Nash apoyaron de manera visionaria representan los los mojones mas sólidos del arranque en la historia de los Estudios sobre la Mujer en América Latina. Además, hay que decir que ese impulso para iniciar este campo de estudios continuó y fue abonado por Helen durante toda su vida. Su generosidad con el conocimiento, con los contactos, con los sentimientos y con la amistad tejieron el vigoroso campo de los Estudios Feministas y de Género que hoy caracteriza a la región latinoamericana.
De esta manera, Helen fue un ejemplo académico inmejorable. Pero no solo fue brújula en este campo. Quiero recordar que cuando unió su vida con John le comenté a las amigas, y muy en particular a ti, Carmen Diana, que "nuestra Helen" nos estaba dando un ejemplo más, al mostrarnos cómo su vida académica y emocional se fusionaban en un todo armónico y sólido que le permitía seguir adelante con dinamismo y entusiasmo sus luchas.
Tengo muy presente una comida a la que me invitó con mis hijas pequeñas y con Pacho. Mis hijas jugaron con los juguetes de su hija y al termino de la reunión mi hija menor, la Gugui, sostenía con cariño un pato amarillo de felpa. Helen entendió que no quería separase del pato y le dijo "llévalo a tu casa y cuídalo mucho". Este pato acompaño mi familia por muchos años y hoy lo tengo presente en mis memorias.
Sabemos que Helen nos hace falta, pero al mismo tiempo sabemos que sus enseñanzas y cálida sonrisa queda presente para honrar su vida.
Un fuerte abrazo,
Helen looms large in the lives of all who knew her, and for me, like many other women academics, it is hard to extricate the professional from the personal. Helen became our mentor in every sense of the word, at times nigh impossibly so, yet always the nurturing elder, setting an example I have tried to live up to and pass on. My overriding personal memories of Helen are associated with water: a chance encounter in the warm Caribbean sea off the West coast of Barbados, followed by more planned encounters off the coast of Cuba, other Caribbean territories, and Florida, whether the coast or Paynes Prairie. And wherever there was a pool, we would be in there, exercising and talking. These days, in the pool here in the south west of England, I've found myself smiling remembering those times. Thank you, Helen. You remain with us, but we'll miss you.
Helen's presence was so strong that it is hard to accept that she is no longer with us. My most vivid memories of her always take me to Rutgers, where I met her. She had more energy than the rest of us, the one who called early in the morning when some of us were still sleeping, the one who was ready to organize a meeting and was in touch with people. She was the one who told me about a job for a woman economist at the ILO and encouraged me to apply. I did apply, and the job in Geneva changed quite radically the direction of my work as well as my understanding of development and of women's role in it. Helen was always ready to help, to put people in touch. I know that I am not the only one whose life was touched by Helen's help. Thank you, Helen; we will miss you.
For Dear Helen from your Rutgers colleague who will never forget your unmatched spirit, true comradeship, your absolute belief that your women friends' work had unquestionable significance, and your conviction that intellect and political values enabled change. All of your expansiveness extended to each one of your friends as people. There was never an ounce of fear that some favor would not be delivered if needed. Your love of husband and family displayed the same total love and commitment. We worked together with other feminists to establish a center for women's studies now considered the world's foremost in its field. And, of course, you dedicated your scholarly labor to poor and working women. You were such a huge personality, dear Helen. We will never forget you. Let me end with my favorite Helen story. In the "founding mother" days of feminist scholarship, when Helen was pioneering her anthropological work on women, apparently it was not unusual for male scholars to greet her at conferences with: "Ah, hello Helen, how are the women of the world?" My answer to that today is that we are sad to have lost your amazing presence. But we are certainly a lot better because of you. Love Ginny Yans
I have also been thinking alot about Helen today, on what would have been her 83rd bday. She loved to celebrate her birthdays and we did so several times at my house. Gainesville really isn't quite the same without her! She's trully missed.
Today is my mom's birthday. She would have been 83. This is the first time in over 25 years I haven't sent her flowers on this day. I wish that I could. But it's heartwarming to see how much she was loved and appreciated by so many people from so many different places and times in her life, which was clearly a very full one. She would have enjoyed reading these posts very much. They're a lovely "birthday gift" for her.
I was one of Helen's students at Rutgers University. Although I was in Sociology and Helen was in Anthropology,she was one of the members of my dissertation committee.
Besides a teacher, Helen became a great friend throughout the years.
I will miss her passion for life, her
generosity and her love of justice.
I will never forget her and she will continue to be a role model for younger generations.
Thanks Helen for all you gave.
I met Helen when I returned from the Peace Corps in Iran at Syracuse in the late 1960s. I was just starting graduate school and was looking for a way to finance my first year. I was a political scientist but Helen hired me as her research assistant for a year. The study of women on welfare in public housing had a lifetime impact on my understanding of poverty. While I went on to get my PhD in political science and economics I did an extra semester taking Anthropology courses with Helen, Bill Mangin and Aiden Southall. She was a great teacher and a real inspiration with her groundbreaking research. I will always be grateful for her early inspiration and thoughtfulness. Donna E. Shalala
Helen, throughout your fulfilling professional life, you always kept your extended family close your heart and mind, showing caring and generosity!
This. Is sad news. We hassle lost a pioneer feminist and a beloved colleague.
Agradeciendo siempre el apoyo académico de LASA bajo la dirección de la Dra. Helen Safa, a la Universidad de El Salvador y los universitarios salvadoreños durante la época del conflicto bélico. Que descanse en paz. Gracias Doctora.
My sympathies are extended to Helen's family. I remember her as a sincere and lovely woman who spoke her mind — often when others would not. Helen was such a great role model.
I am so sorry for your loss and while I didn't know Helen well personally, she was a major wo-mentor for my own education and organizing with global feminist movements, women's human rights and the politics of sexuality in the Caribbean and especially in Cuba.
Helen's leadership and research made a huge difference in m life and political work with the co-founding of the US Women and Cuba Collaboration www.womenandcuba.org
Helen was a wonderful colleague. In the discipline and in the field of Puerto Rican Studies she staunchly advocated for social uplift and community transformation. I always appreciated her willingness to mentor generations of Puerto Rican women. We are better scholars given her generosity. May she rest in peace.
Edite and I completed our studies at the University of Florida several years before Helen Safa came to UF as the Director of the Center for Latin American Studies. For many years we knew her primarily through her reputation as an excellent administrator of the Center and as a leading scholar of Caribbean studies and feminist anthropology. Following our retirement from academic positions in Miami we relocated to Gainesville and got to know Helen and John on a more personal basis. Helen was active right up until the end and we often saw her at community and university events, CLAS receptions, and the screenings of the Latino Film Festival. Both she and John were always very gracious and welcoming, and made us feel at home in Gainesville. We will miss her greatly.
Professor Safa's contribution to Puerto Rican studies and Women's and Gender studies was very significant. I enjoyed teaching The Myth of the Male Breadwinner in my course on gender at Rutgers University. Very thankful for her work.
I met Helen in the approximate time of 1968. We were neighbors in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Our daughters Mitra and Randi became the best of friends. Helen and I didn't get to know each other that well. She was busy making her way at Rutgers University and I was a stay at home surburban housewife. We interacted here and there and through our interactions I felt her immense warmth as an individual, her lust for life and love for her daughter Mitra, stepchildren and family. Today I fully realize what a shining humanitarian and individual she was. I send love and light to Helen and her incredible family.
adding another photo
Helen and all her endeavors created spirited responses in her colleagues and friends because she was so passionate about the things she did.We worked together to teach the first WID course at UF and to start the Women in Development Digital Library Collection at the University of Florida Library. But more than these kinds of things, she was so fabulous at creating and maintaining deep personal relationships that were--are everlasting. We will miss her enormously
I will always remember Helen for her legacy of feminist research and her promotion of our understanding of Puerto Rican and Caribbean culture, for her generous support and motivation of my own investigations, for her enthusiasm and energy in moving the causes she believed in, and most importantly for her warm and sincere friendship. She will continue to live in the many ways she touched our lives. My condolences to John, Mitra and the rest of the family.
I will remember Helen for her generosity, her smile, and her dauntless spirit and drive. My condolences to her family.
Go with God. Thanks for all you did.
It was an honor to have known Helen and to share our love for Latin America. We learned much from her. We met many years ago, that seems like yesterday as I write. My thoughts go out to John and the rest of the family.
Dear Helen, I will never forget your precious teachings, demands for perfection and wonderful moments together. Your last project will be completed in your memory and honor.
I love you, Helen. Thank you for being so kind and supportive to my mother and I. I will remember you dearly.
To my friend, my mentor, and my tireless champion, I send white light and much love to you for your new journey. Thank you for helping me become the scholar I am today. You will be sorely missed.
Dr. Safa was a wonderful mentor to me while I was studying Latin American studies at UF, long after she was officially retired. She was generous with advice and crucial contacts that made my research possible. I feel so privileged to have known her.
I will never forget dear Helen. She was a very kind relative with great character. Everyone could learn from her.
Helen was larger than life, a pioneer for women in academia, and a loyal friend. My condolences to her family, especially her grandchildren who'll be fully proud of her as adults.
What a shame that Helen's brand new grandchild Luca did not get to know his indomitable abuelita!
Helen was as indomitable as she was gracious. She and John were wonderfully dedicated and hilariously complementary to each other. The world will surely miss you, Helen. Faye Harrison and I bid you Rest in Peace.
Helen and I were colleagues and best of friends during our time together at Rutgers University during the 1970s. Helen went on to U FLORIDA and I to other places. We kept in touch from time to time. She was a great person, a major contributor to Latin American Studies, and a fine friend. It would be good if LAP could do some kind of Memorial tribute to her.
Faye and I wish you peace on your journey. We will always remember the graciousness of John and you, your hilarious complementarity with John, and our wonderful get-togethers. May the angels lead you to Paradise.
Helen was such a force in Anthropology and Latin American Studies at UF.....she will be missed!
Helen you were a real trooper for human solidarity across boundaries of culture, race, class and gender. La lucha sigue!
I always enjoyed seeing you and talking to you at departmental functions. You were such an integral part of UF's Department of Anthropology
I met Helen two years ago when I started working as a librarian at UF. And I feel grateful and honored to have met her, to have talked with her at presentations and parties. It is difficult to forget her kindness, her support, and her tireless interest in the joys of life to the end.
I will truly miss you, Helen. I have many wonderful memories that will stay with me forever.
Helen Safa was a dear personal friend and colleague for decades. She inspired many students and worked hard to advance our education and social change throughout her distinguished career. She and I shared joyous moments of work and sad moments of loss from which each of us bounced back, always supporting one another, both personally and professionally. Many are those who learned from her and, like me, will miss her. She is with us as we move ahead, and her works, like her example, speak to us forever. Thanks, Helen.
Helen was a great friend and mentor, an inspiration to so many. I was privileged to meet her decades ago and to know her well after moving to Gainesville. She made a great difference by charting the way for feminist scholars and activists working throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Her spirit will shine brightly for the generations that follow.
Helen was one of the first people I met when I first came to Gainesville 20 years ago. She was an incredible colleague andscholar but above all the most loyal and generous of friends. It is hard to imagine the world wthout her.
Helen was passionate about her work, friends, and music. I have fond memories of Helen during the many of concert events she attended.
We loved her visits to the UF Library ; she brought out the best in us as colleagues!
Helen,one of the kindest, as well as the smartest, women I ever knew. We'll miss you.
Helen had a forcefield all her own--an inspiration personally and professionally. I'll miss seeing her around and hearing her sharp insights. Most of all, I'm grateful for her amazing legacy.
I am fortunate to have had Helen as a colleague. My interactions and exchanges with her always resulted in insights that made a big difference in my thinking and my scholarly writing. Her impact has been major.
She will be missed but her legacy will continue to live.
To have known Helen for over 15 years, to have seen her in action, in the Center for Latin American Studies, in her talks at LASA in her writings, as a friend, as a colleague, always concerned and tirelessly committed to the right causes has been an absolute privilege. Forever, Helen
Helen was an amazing woman who I am grateful to have known in recent years. May her family receive my heartfelt condolences.
Helen was a unique combination of public intellectual and expert scholar, feminist, and vibrant role model. Her writings and teachings presented an expansive, coherent worldview, telling truth to power. She paved the way for generations of women throughout the hemisphere to fulfill their potential. She was widely beloved for her generosity of spirit, and her loyalty as a friend -- it was my great privilege to enjoy her friendship since the 1970s. Like so many others, I will greatly miss her, but Helen remains present in our hearts and minds and inspires us to live up to her example.
I met Helen and her husband at the last LASA conference in Washington, DC. I recognized her from other events in Gainesville, and remembered seeing her in other LASA conferences. I wish I had gotten to know her better. I only heard great things about her since I arrived in Gainesville in 2007. There is no doubt that you will always be remembered.
Helen Safa was an intelligent and honest scholar who had the gift to touch her readers making them see. Her work will continue opening doors.
Dear Helen: You touched my life when I was a Chilean exile living in the SF Bay Area. I took every word from you as air for my breath, for my thirst for freedom. I took your teachings to Chile and founded Women and Gender Studies at the University of Chile when I return. Your wisdom and thirst for equality grows ever stronger everywhere and we are indebted to you for life...Kemy Oyarzun, University of Chile
Helen's work influenced me in so many ways. She paved the way for us. Even though she and I never met formally, I feel like I have lost a mentor and a colleague.
Helen touched the life of many scholars in the world. I was lucky to meet her as a student at the University of Florida. Helen was always inspiring and very supportive person. We will always remember her.
I never met Helen Safa, but read most of her fabulous contributions to a new feminist interpretation that associated gender to class. In LAP she wrote her first articles on Cuba and the Caribbean. I do sincerely lament this fact. She certainly left a rich legacy of progressive thought that inspire all those that struggle for justice and equality.
Thank you so much Helen for your mentoring of me and the tour of San Juan you gave me at one LASA conference. Your contributions to the literature on women and on the Caribbean will live on for decades if not more.
Helen was a pioneer and an amazing role model for women professionals. Her contributions and laughter will be remembered and honored.
helen was a friend, scholar and fighter
In loving memory of Helen I. Safa, a woman, a professor, a mentor, and an inspiration. May you rest in peace.
Helen, our family will not be the same without you. Your affect and intellectual spark made every occasion very special.
God bless your soul. I only had few chances to meet with you but nonetheless they were close enough for me to appreciate your intelligence. I truly believe you still exist somewhere and you are in the hands of God. ???? ?????
Helen, You were an amazing woman and a role model for the women who follow you. You will be missed.
I will be forever grateful for your mentoring and friendship and will miss you very much.
All of us at the Center for Latin American Studies miss you dearly. Vicky and I will always treasure our visit with you last Saturday. Farewell Comandante!
My dear friend Helen for so many years...I will miss your smile...your intoxicating laugh...your zest for life...and your love! Duerme con los angelitos amiga mia! Lucinda
Your beloved Sunday NY Times Ma, in honor of all you've done. You left us too quickly. We miss you so very much.