Helen Driscoll

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DRISCOLL, Helen - (1921 - 2011) Helen was a woman of active compassion, spending her life fighting to improve the lives of others. She was active in the union movement. At the age of 17, she was the first woman elected to the Negotiating Committee in the male-dominated shop of the United Steel Wares. In 1946 she helped organize a union at Amalgamated Electric. After striking, they gained wage increases and improved working conditions. She went on to become President of the local union and then was elected Trustee of the national union. During this period she campaigned tirelessly for an increased role for women in the labour movement. Later, having studied Speech at the London College of Music, Helen used her skills to develop a successful remedial reading system with which she helped many children. She went on to teach the mentally handicapped and was elected President of the Ontario Teachers of the Mentally Retarded where she negotiated their absorption by the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. In the 1970s she joined the NDP and worked for the election of Stephen Lewis. Subsequently she was elected President of her riding association. Politics and the pursuit of social justice remained priorities through her entire life. She was a wonderful mother to her children Margaret (Andrew) and Jim (Debra). She provided love and support and was prepared to fight like a tiger on their behalf if that was needed. She was equally essential in the lives of her grandchildren Sara (Sean), Jim, Heather (Eric) and great-grandson Shane. Helen was devoted to her husband Raymond, whom she nursed during the many years he suffered from Alzheimer's. She loved and was dearly loved by cousin Arlene (Peter), niece Loretta (Paul) and neighbours Vilma and Mitchell. She will live on in the lives she touched, both known and unknown, and the concrete changes she made in the world.

Published in the Toronto Star on Apr. 30, 2011