1933 - 2020
Czelusniak Funeral Home
173 North Street
Northampton, MA
Helen Besko, 87, transitioned on October 31, 2020 at the Center for Extended Care at Amherst.

Helen was born on May 21, 1933 in Hatfield to the late Peter Backiel and Sophie (Skorupski) Backiel Gnatek. Helen attended Hatfield public schools all her life. She graduated from Smith Academy in 1950 and had the nickname "Honey." She was the Class Secretary, on the Executive Committee, a member of the Girl's Glee Club, Music Club, School Paper, Yearbook Committee, Thespian Club, and played Basketball. Her classmates commented in her Yearbook that she had a lovely smile and a swell personality!

In Helen's early years, she worked as a store detective for MaCallum's Department Store in Northampton, and then moved on to work at Kollmorgen. She married John Besko on February 4, 1956. In 1963 she graduated from The Kay-Harvey Hair Design Academy and became the owner of Helen's Beauty Salon, one of the first cottage industries providing hair salon services in the home. Several years later, her husband John became ill. Helen left working full-time in the salon and went to work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She first worked at the Procurement Office and then took her talents over to the Dubois Library and worked in the Circulation Department until her retirement. Helen made long lasting friends at UMass who never forgot her. After retiring from UMass, she became a Realtor, and later on worked as a Home Health Care Aid where she sat on the Board of Directors.

Helen was a Parishioner of Holy Trinity Church while living in Hatfield and was a member of the Hatfield Historical Society. Several years later, she moved to Hadley and was a Parishioner of Holy Redeemer Church. Helen loved life to its fullest and helping others. Life wasn't always easy though. She cared for her husband, John, for over sixteen years before his passing in 1994. Even so, Helen carried on and did what she had to do. She loved making people laugh and she always had the latest joke to tell you. She was the best baker this side of the east coast and was famous for her "Death by Chocolate Brownies!" Most of all, Helen loved and cherished her family. Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were her pride and joy and she made sure they all knew it!

Helen is survived by her three children, Cynthia Neill of Worcester, Mass., Joanne Dolan and husband Jim of Turners Falls, Mass., and Bonnie Druschel and husband Tom of Southwick, Mass; Two Sisters, Pauline Polczwartek and husband Mike, of Williamsburg, Mass, and Jenni Allard and husband Phillip of Whately, Mass; Three grandchildren, Lyndsey Beaupre and husband Edward of Eatonville, Washington, Kaiten Neill and Fiancée Allison Richards of Woodstock, Connecticut; and James Dolan (and sweet grand-dog "Zeus") of Amherst, Mass.; Three great-grandchildren, Mikey, Deegan, and Alina Sophia Beaupre all of Eatonville, Washington; and several warm and loving nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, Helen was preceded in death by her husband, John, and brother, Peter Backiel.

Due to Covid19 Regulations, services for Helen will be private and held at the convenience of the family. Burial will take place in Calvary Cemetery in Hatfield. There will be a celebration of life at a later date. CZELUSNIAK FUNERAL HOME has been entrusted with arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road, Amherst, Mass, 01002, or the Genesis Spiritual Life & Conference Center, 53 Mill Street, Westfield, Mass, 01085. Donations to the Genesis Spiritual Life & Conference Center can also be made on-line at:

Genesis Spiritual Life & Conference Center: www.genesisspiritualcenter.org
Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Nov. 3, 2020.
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May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. Sorry about the loss of your mom. She was a great aunt ALWAYS HAD A GREAT SMILE AND ONLY KIND WORDS TO SPEAK

May God bless and comfort you for your loss. I will always remember your mom's beautiful smile and soft spoken voice. My only regret is we didn't get together as we planned. Your mom will be truly remembered in my heart always and I hope we can get together again someday and catch up on all the beautiful memories of the past. I love you girls and may God fill you with peace. Sorry for your loss.
Aunt Sandy
sandra fondakowski
November 19, 2020
Cheryl Hoey
November 10, 2020
I worked with Helen in Purchasing, my first full-time job at UMass. She was a joy to work with, taught me a lot, and make work fun. My thoughts and prayers go out to Joanne, Cindy, Bonnie and families. Tracy Holhut
Tracy Holhut
November 9, 2020
I will not forget going to the Besko home and many of us will remember having a wonderful visit with Helen while she did our hair for yearbook pictures, prom, wedding or any special occasion! I guess sweetness and hard work ran in the family. Her sister Jenni worked hard on our high school and reunion activities!

I also never will forget her love and care for her late husband John. It was the first I ever heard of early onset Alzheimer’s, and saw she was dedicated to his care. May she Rest In Peace and may peace come to her family.
Nancy Jaworski Shanafelt
November 7, 2020
So sorry for your loss, sending prayers to the family.
Dori Desmond Melnik
November 6, 2020
Cindy,bonnie,and joanne so sorry to hear about your mom's passing. May she rest in peace.
Mike Paniczko
November 5, 2020
I worked with Helen at UMass for many years. She was a wonderful person, full of personality with a great sense of humor. I remember her fondly and know she will be missed by her many friends and family. My sincere sympathy to all.
Sue Green
November 5, 2020
Bonnie sorry to her of your Mom's passing. I remember her warm welcoming smile.
Diane Rejniak
November 4, 2020
dear Joanne and family. Sorry for your loss of a wonderful person. I always enjoyed talking with Helen and having a few laughs along the way, sincerely, Linda Gwozdz, UMASS
Linda Gwozdz
November 4, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Paula J Lizek
November 3, 2020
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