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Helen Cutler Winter

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WINTER, Helen Cutler Helen Cutler Winter died on January 5, 2009, at the Essex Meadows Health Center. She was born in Hartford on February 17, 1915, the daughter of Ralph Dennis Cutler and Ruth Brainard Cutler. She was married for 63 years to the late John Keyes Winter of Essex Meadows. She was the mother of the late Holly W. Bauman of San Francisco. She is survived by: her sister June Ford of Essex Meadows; her brother William Cutler of Stonington; her daughter Marie W. Brady of Ft. Collins CO; her sons, J. Keyes Winter Jr. of Weston, and Alfred P. Winter of Las Vegas NM; eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Helen Winter was above all else, a creative person. After attending Sarah Lawrence College, she pursued an acting career in New York. She put that dream aside when she married in 1940 and settled down to raise four children. In 1960 she defied convention and went to work. Her first job was with the Connecticut Civil War Centennial Commission, after which she worked at the Constitution Galleries in West Hartford. In 1968, with an investment of a few thousand dollars and a newspaper ad seeking consignment items, she founded the Helen Winter Gallery in Farmington, dealing in art and antiques. She became an expert in New England furniture and Chinese export porcelain. Her business grew, and in 1970 she and her husband purchased the Gristmill in Farmington. With her considerable vision and hard work, the circa 1640 building was transformed into a vibrant boutique shopping center housing her gallery, a dress shop, a book store, an art gallery, a needlepoint store, and a restaurant. During this period she participated as curator of arts and antiques in the first CPTV Channel 24 annual auction, and later served on the CPTV Board. Always seeking to improve the Mill, her last major project was an attempt to harness the power of the river to generate hydroelectricity by reusing and adapting the exiting water turbine. Her last business venture was as founding partner of Winter Associates, Auctioneers, which still bears her name. Upon retirement, she and her husband moved to Old Lyme and then to Essex Meadows, and she focused on her lifelong interest in painting and drawing. She worked in oil, watercolor, and acrylic, and enjoyed experimenting in more exotic media. She studied at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and served on their Board. She exhibited in juried shows at local galleries, including the Essex Art Association, the Old Lyme Art Association, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, the Mystic Art Association, the East Lyme Art League, and for many years was the curator of the Gallery at Essex Meadows. Motivated by the joy of creation, her work was idiosyncratic and diverse, ranging from figurative to abstract. Her philosophy was: "The longer we live, the more there is to learn, and the more exciting it is to dig out the answers." Throughout the course of her long life, she touched many people with her love, humor, and integrity. She will be sorely missed. A Memorial Service will be held at Hamilton Hall at Essex Meadows, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 24. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Essex Meadows Employees' Children Scholarship Fund.

Published in The Hartford Courant on Jan. 10, 2009
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