Helmes, Bruce Philip
Bruce Philip Helmes, Architect, WWII Veteran, 95 years old, and a native of Katonah, died May 8, 2017. Born April 25, 1922 on a kitchen table in a 2nd floor apartment over a woodwork shop, at 223 Katonah Avenue, which 50 years later he renovated into offices now known as the Courtyard.
He was the third child of Charles and Louise Tucker Helmes. Predeceased by sister, Marion Covey and brother, Charles T. Helmes, former Superintendent of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. His father was the "wire chief" of the N.Y. Telephone Co. in Mt. Kisco. His mother was a homemaker, taking care of everything in raising the family. Bruce always talked about growing up in the twenties and thirties and life in Katonah.
Bruce is survived by his loving wife, Margaret (Peggy Healy). Although married for 70 years, they were going together since they were 16 years old. Bruce attended Katonah High School and Margaret, also a native of Katonah, went to St. Mary's School.
In September of 1947 Bruce and Margaret were married at St. Mary's in Katonah and with God's blessings, they had eight children, 6 sons and 2 daughters and now 24 grandchildren: Philip (Kathi), of Marblehead, MA; their children: (Brian, Julie, Jessica, and Caroline); Peter (Marjie) of New Fairfield, CT.; (Sean, Alexandra, and Molly); Bruce (Andrea) of Cedartown, GA. (Bruce, Scott, Kyle, Michael, and Rachel); Steven (Rosa) of Katonah, NY; (Cristina, Charles, and Briana); Kevin (Digna) of White Plains, NY (Ashley); Peggy (Nicholas and Emily); Barbara (Van Muller) of Pound Ridge, NY; (Stephen, Timothy, Kevin, and Kate); and David (Yummy) of South Salem, NY (Maggie and Annie).
His daughter Peggy died of brain cancer in 2010.
Bruce attended Katonah Public School, grades 1-12, in a 2 story building which is now the location of the Katonah Fire House on Bedford Road. He graduated in 1940 as President of his Senior Class. He and his classmates decided to start a yearbook and raise the money for it. They approached Mrs. Arthur Iselin, a descendant of John Jay, and received permission to use the name "John Jay" as the title of the yearbook. Upon consolidation of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District, the new High School took the name "John Jay".
In September 1940, Bruce started college at Cooper Union in NYC, with the goal of being an architect. However, in November of 1941 his father died and war was declared. In September 1942, he was sworn into the Army and in January 1943, was deployed to North Africa. He served as a Sargent in the 968th AAR Air Engineering Squad and saw action through to the Battle of Tunis. Thereafter, his company was deployed to Caserta, Italy, then dispatched to the English 8th Army on the Adriatic Coast and moved up through the coast into the Po River Campaign. With War over, Bruce returned to the United States in October of 1945 and was honorably discharged with 2 Campaign Battle Stars.
After 3 years overseas and with his college and army experience, he was accepted with the benefit of the GI Bill into Yale Graduate School of Architecture. He worked in New York City and White Plains with Architectural offices and further studied Land Planning and Structural Engineering at Columbia University and New York Structural Institute. He received his Architectural License in 1952 and started his own practice. Examples of his work can be seen throughout Northern Westchester and Fairfield County, varying from large custom homes, to commercial buildings, along with numerous renovations and additions on a variety of projects.
In 1985 his sons, Peter, Steven and Kevin, joined him and they continue "The Helmes Group, Architecture, Engineering and Project Management," at their office at 184 Katonah Avenue.
Bruce was dedicated to serving his community with 70 years in the Katonah American Legion, (past finance officer); 70 years with the Katonah Fire Department (past finance officer); President of Katonah Chamber of Commerce; President of the Katonah Rotary; Schaeffer Award recipient; President of the Katonah Memorial Park; 32 year Board of Managers for Lincoln Hall; Member Emeritus of the America Institute of Architecture (past finance officer); Town committees, including: Chairman of District 8 Republicans; Low Cost Housing Committee; Community Board of County Trust Bank; Board of Directors of NY Federal Savings Bank; and Board of Directors of the Village Improvement Society. Bruce was the recipient of the 2009 Civic Award by the Sisqua Council 1862 of the Knights of Columbus.
Bruce and his wife Peggy enjoyed great vacations on Cape Cod with their children and grandchildren and many years sailing on the Long Island Sound. He retired from his architectural office at 88 years old and kept busy with his painting of land and seascapes. He has given his children and grandchildren paintings of their choosing and always wrote a special message on the back, specifically for them.
His family will receive friends at Clark Associates Funeral Home, 4 Woods Bridge Rd, Katonah on Fri, May 12 from 4-8 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Sat, May 13 at 1:30 pm at St Mary of the Assumption RC Church, 55 Valley Rd, Katonah, NY.
Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Katonah Fire Dept., the Katonah-Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corp., or to St. Mary's Church.
Published in The Journal News from May 9 to May 10, 2017.