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Helen Sousa

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Helen Sousa Obituary

Helen 'Marilyn' (Felske) Sousa, 88 passed away on Thursday, July 31, 2014 in Monroe Township, NJ. Marilyn, formerly of West Hartford and Cheshire, CT, is the daughter of the late William A Felske and Helen (Morgan) Felske. Marilyn was born in Waterbury, CT. Throughout Marilyn's life, she had a profound effect on everyone she met, all were deeply touched. Marilyn opened her heart to everyone; to always listen with genuine interest and offer advice, sympathy and support to her hundreds of friends and acquaintances, all the time, anytime. Marilyn was gifted in so many ways; her incredible intelligence, her endless energy and drive, her leadership and more, despite battling Systemic Lupus Erythematosus for over 45 years. All of Marilyn's friends would repeatedly say to her family, "your mother is the most amazing person I know, she is an inspiration, we are so blessed and lucky to have her". She worked her way through college by modeling, and by interning at Peabody Museum at Yale, which is the oldest, largest, and most prolific university natural history museum in the world. Some of the exhibits she worked on still exist today. After graduating from UCONN with a BS she was offered a scholarship from the University of Michigan to pursue a Masters in Zoology. Choosing to start a family instead, she married Gordon ("Wally") Sousa beginning a special wonderful 61 year marriage ending in his untimely death in 2008. Together they founded the Connecticut Lupus Foundation in 1973. Marilyn served as its first President, and a long time Board of Director. They were instrumental in merging the Connecticut chapter with other state chapters in 1977 to create the Lupus Foundation of America. Marilyn was actively serving on the LFA National Lupus Board of Directors at the time of her passing. In addition to her countless contributions to Lupus, she volunteered for many charitable and medical foundations. She served as a volunteer committee member for SSF (Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation). Her lifetime awards are too many to list, but her favorites were the bronze medal "Golden Rule Award" (given by JC Penney to sponsor exceptional volunteer service in the community), and the "Jefferson Award". The Jefferson Award is given at a yearly national ceremony in Washington to recognize individuals who are dedicated to activating public service. They target individuals to empower them to continue to serve and lead their communities. Marilyn was a teacher for many years. She taught in both regular and children with learning disabilities classrooms. Her biggest source of pride was teaching clinical skills to the third year medical students at UCONN. She was asked to continue teaching clinical skills at UCONN Medical School in Farmington to the age of 88. Marilyn leaves three sons, Gordon W Sousa Jr. and his wife Jianhua of Monroe Twp, NJ; Guy M Sousa and his wife Jan of Darien, CT; Gary E Sousa of Tokyo, Japan and his wife Catherine of Dallas, TX. She leaves seven grandchildren, Peter and Paul Sousa of Chester, NJ; Patricia (Sousa) Arancibia and her husband Felipe of Caldera, Chile; Jack Sousa and his wife Laura of Greenwich, CT; Carly Sousa of New York, NY; Kevin and Riley Sousa of Darien, CT. She leaves two great grandchildren; Charlotte and Eleanor Sousa (Jack and Laura's twins). Marilyn leaves two brothers; brother William A Felske Jr. and his wife Christine of Norton, MA and his family, WIlliam Felske (Helen), Joy Adams (John) and Ann Gauvin (David) and brother Ned Felske of Bloomfield, CT and his family Diane Bohman (Lawrence) and Margaret Clancy (Timothy). The family would like to thank; Sally Ann Kelly, Marie Sartee, John Rose, who gave so much during her NJ hospice and Debbie Archambault who never missed a single day of support. Memorial services willl be held on Saturday, September 6th, 2014 at 11A at the First Church of Christ Congregational, 12 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06107. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be sent in her name to: The Lupus Foundation of America, Connecticut Chapter Inc, 270 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06032.

Published in The Hartford Courant from Aug. 9 to Aug. 10, 2014
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