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Helen Sohl

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BENNINGTON -- Helen Sohl, 86, died on Sunday morning, Nov. 27, 2005, at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation after a brief illness. She lived a long life of loving service to her family and friends.

She was born Helen Marie Lauzon on Jan. 18, 1919, in Bennington to Edmund and Cordelia (Ratelle) Lauzon. Her mother emigrated from Quebec, Canada, and her father was born in Fayville, part of Glastenbury, during the logging operations there in the late 1800s. She was the youngest of five children. Helen spent her childhood at several addresses in Bennington, including a house on Mill Street, now Benmont Avenue, where her father and brothers worked in the Holden Leonard “Big Mill” across the street. The family last lived at the comer of Maple and Gage streets for many years, while her father worked as a carpenter and house painter with his older brothers.

Helen attended Sacred Heart School when most instruction was still in French, and then attended Bennington High School.

After waitressing at the Raleigh Restaurant in Bennington, she relocated to Detroit around 1946 with her sister, Florence. There she contributed to the war effort by working as a riveter in an automobile plant converted to production of aircraft gun turrets. She later worked at the Macambo Restaurant, where she met her first husband, Elliot Allen. Helen moved back to Bennington in 1954 with her young sons, Warren and Thomas, residing briefly with her parents, then in North Adams and Williamstown, Mass., followed by several Bennington addresses. She continued to work at the Paradise Restaurant and Prince’s Restaurant. For 34 years, until her retirement in 1994, she was a waitress and hostess at the Pinsonneault family’s Vermont Steak House, where she was much loved by the staff and the regular clientele.

She married Joseph P. Sohl and had a son, Joe, in 1958, while the family lived at the corner of East Road and Town Line Road.

Helen loved the simple pleasures of life, especially berry picking, flower gardening, clambakes at the family camp in Glastenbury and trout fishing with her son, Joe. She was an avid reader, especially of biographies. Despite her understated demeanor, she had an immense and sustained beneficial influence upon the lives of her children and those closest to her. Helen charted a course of graceful perseverance, providing a vivid and uplifting example to others in difficulty. She was also able to maintain an unwavering appreciation for the virtues of her friends and family, with very little attention to their shortcomings. Her life was a long and rich story of great and small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, ranging from being always eager to baby-sit her grandchildren to caring for friends who had lost their way.

Most recently, she lived at senior housing apartments on School Street, where she kept in touch with her friends and family through frequent e-mails and phone calls. She was active and completely alert all through her later years, and had been browsing Web sites and driving to the store every day up until a few days before she passed away.

Survivors include her three sons and two daughters-in-law, Warren Armand Allen and his wife, Mary, of Irvine, Calif., Thomas Elliott Allen of Bennington, and Joseph Edmund Sohl and his wife, Tammy, of Pownal; three grandchildren, Lucien Allen I of Irvine, Matthew Sohl of Sweden, Maine, and Samantha Sohl of Pownal; sisters-in-law Helen de Rose of Williamstown and Jane Lauzon of Brattleboro; and a cousin, Margaret Yvonne Riley, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and dear friends.

A Mass of resurrection will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Chapel at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington at 1:30 p.m. Interment will follow in the family lot in Park Lawn Cemetery in Bennington. There are no calling hours scheduled.

Memorials contributions may be made to the Bennington Rescue Squad through the office of the Mahar & Son Funeral Home, 628 Main St. Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Bennington Banner on Nov. 29, 2005
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