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Helen Rankin Millar

1917 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Helen Rankin Millar Obituary
Helen Rankin Millar

AGE: 96 • Charlottesville, VA

Helen Rankin Millar of Charlottesville, Virginia passed away at her home at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge at the age of 96. She was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, John "Jack" Nelson Millar; her brother, Donald L. Rankin; and her niece, Barbara Rankin. Helen was the original strong, independent woman, while always a generous soul who cared and helped others in need. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was born in Schenectady, NY on July 6, 1917 to the late Harry M. Rankin and Georganna Canfield Rankin. As a child, she lived in Atlanta, GA; Portland, OR; and Schenectady, NY prior to spending her formative years in Reading, PA. Helen graduated from Reading High School in 1934 and Simmons College, Boston, MA in 1938. Helen met her husband, Jack, at her first job after college with Seagrams Industries in Louisville, KY. They were married later that year in Reading, PA on December 17, 1938. After moves to Cincinnati, OH; Elizabeth, NJ; and Elkton, VA, Helen and Jack settled in Danville, PA for 14 years, where Jack was Plant Manager of the Merck Pharmaceutical's Cherokee plant. Although Helen's primary focus was on her husband and three children, she was heavily involved with the community as Girl Scout leader, Red Cross volunteer, Bookmobile volunteer and other activities too numerous to mention. After Danville, Helen and Jack moved to Albany, GA and San Juan, PR, before retiring in Charlottesville, VA for the next 42 years.

Starting in her youth, Helen used her sharp, inquisitive mind to research and create collections of valuables that interested her. As she developed her sophisticated taste, she focused on building world class collections of glass, antique and modern paperweights, antique snuff bottles and spoons. Helen was a fearless, enthusiastic world traveler, traveling to China, Russia and Eastern Europe before it was advisable. At 90, she attended her granddaughter's wedding in Kodiak, Alaska and also took a transcontinental train ride from Los Angeles to Charlottesville, because she always wanted to. During her time in Charlottesville, she was an avid sports fan, particularly for UVA. She was a volunteer at The University of Virginia Fine Arts Library, as well as a volunteer at Westminster Canterbury in any capacity they requested.

Helen is survived by her three children: Neil L. Millar of Landenberg, PA; Johanne M. Henrickson of Forest Hill, MD; and John M. Millar of Virginia Beach, VA and two daughters-in-law: Mary Susan Millar and Bonnie F. Millar. She is also survived by her niece, Helen R. Coppin of Tucson, AZ; her eight grandchildren: Lindor E. Henrickson, Jeni K. Henrickson, Kaia B. Henrickson, Gabrielle R. Millar, Noel M. Wardwell, Kristin M. Millar, Kara M. Bowman, Anne M. Wright and nine great grandchildren.

She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, where her ashes will be interred with her husband's in the memory garden. Services will be private. Anyone who wishes may remember her through Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge Foundation, 250 Pantops Mountain Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911. Condolences may be sent to the family at

Published in The News Journal from June 12 to June 13, 2014
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