Helene Ryan Warrener
Cincinnati - Helene Lecko Ryan Warrener, 92, died Saturday, July 20, in Cincinnati.
The only child of Polish immigrants, Helene grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She skipped two grades in school and entered Mount Holyoke College as a scholarship day student. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and then earned her Master's in Spanish at Yale University, where she met her first husband, Hewson Ryan. They were married 42 years, during which they lived throughout Latin America and in Washington, D.C. and traveled the rest of the world, as her husband pursued his career with the U.S. Foreign Service. From 1969 to 1973, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and she played the unofficial but diplomatically important role of the Ambassador's wife. On his retirement, they moved to the Boston area, where he taught at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Helene ultimately became a teacher of English as a Second Language. Hewson Ryan died in 1991.
Widowhood did not suit her. In 1996, she married twice-widowed Harrison (Hass) Warrener, a Cincinnati native living on Cape Cod. In 1999, they moved to Deupree House in Cincinnati, where she lived the rest of her life. Hass died in 2002. When the recently widowed Robert (Bob) Vignola moved into Deupree House in 2007 he caught her eye, and they were married in 2008. Bob died in July 2014.
Helene had always wanted a large family. It took her until her late 60s to reach that goal, so she cherished and celebrated every member of her extended clan to the fullest. She is survived by her son, Tony Ryan of Swampscott, MA, and her daughter, Sprightley Ryan of Charlottesville, VA; their spouses, Lily Ryan and John Duffy; and two grandchildren, Clara Duffy and Hewson Duffy. Her firstborn, Alexander Ryan, died in 1955. She is also survived by seven stepchildren: Tim Warrener of Long Valley, NJ; Susan Warrener Smith of Columbus, OH; David Stair of Hamden, CT; Martha Gibson of South Orange, NJ; Bailis Stair of New York City; Bob Vignola of Fort Lauderdale, FL; Larry Vignola of Terrace Park, OH; and their spouses, children, and grandchildren. She also had an honorary family member in her caregiver of the past two years, Pat O'Neal of Cincinnati, as well as countless friends. Her love for all of them was boundless.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Helene's memory may be made to Mount Holyoke College, Office of Advancement, PO Box 889, South Hadley, MA 01075 (please note she was class of 1947), or to Episcopal Retirement Services, 3870 Virginia Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45227 (please designate the gift to the Affordable Living Fund).
Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Jul. 25, 2019.