Helen Dean Gordon, 103, passed away on June 6, 2017, at the Havenwood Heritage Heights Retirement Community. Helen was born on April 26, 1914, in Franklin, New Hampshire, the daughter of Horace and Ethel Dean. When Helen was 15, her infant cousin Natalie Hartwell joined the Dean family and the two girls enjoyed a lifelong sisterly bond.
An eager and accomplished student, Helen was valedictorian of her 1931 graduating class at Franklin High School. In later years she told entertaining stories of her long walks to school and of her first summer job, managing the candy counter at the local F.W. Woolworth Store. Helen majored in foreign language studies at Bates College, where she graduated in 1935. She began her teaching career at Kennett High School, in Conway, New Hampshire where her role as girls' basketball coach ignited her lifelong interest in that sport.
In Conway, Helen met another young educator, Irvin Gordon, who hailed from Gorham, Maine. They shared a devotion to public education, to coaching high school sports, and to the beauty of New Hampshire's North Country. Helen Dean and Irvin Gordon married in March of 1940, and in 1943, they moved to Marlborough, New Hampshire, where Irvin served as elementary and high school Principal.
Helen consistently provided encouragement and enthusiastic support for the many athletic and academic activities of her five children. She enjoyed her vegetable and flower gardens, and found time to serve multiple terms as town tax collector, school census officer, and church treasurer. In the 1960s Helen began the second phase of her teaching career in the Foreign Language Department of Keene High School, enriching her own preparation along the way with a Master's Degree from Keene State College. She was devoted to helping students of Latin and French appreciate the origins and richness of language, and was delighted that many of these students remembered her with greetings on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
Helen had a great love for the town of Marlborough, where she was an active member of the Federated Church throughout her life. She spoke often of her gratitude for the cherished and enduring friendships she had made in Marlborough, and she was especially thankful for the thoughtfulness of neighbors during her later years. The Havenwood Heritage Heights Retirement Community had been her home since 2006.
In addition to her parents, Helen was predeceased by Irvin Gordon, her husband of 59 years, her cousin, Natalie Lourie, a daughter-in-law, Dr. Denise Maslakowski, and a son-in-law, Russell Dennis.
Helen is survived by her five children: Carolyn Johansen (Martin), of Waterbury, Vermont, Virginia Dennis (companion, Marty Lauterwald), of Newark, Delaware, Irvin D. Gordon, of Hopkinton, New Hampshire, Robert W. Gordon (Catherine) of Bowdoinham, Maine, and Marcia Goodnow (Donald) of Madbury, New Hampshire.
Her grandchildren and step-grandchildren include: Karl Johansen (Linda) of Valparaiso, Florida, Craig Johansen (Heather) of Saugerties, New York, Carol Smith (Jeffrey) of Waterbury, Vermont, Kurt Johansen (Kara) of Hoschton, Georgia, Christopher Dennis (Helen) of Hockessin, Delaware, Andrew Dennis (Laura) of Newark, Delaware, Karen Dennis (Jessica) of Washington D.C., William Gordon of Seattle, Washington, Edward Erikson (Nicole) of Washington D.C., Meleena Sheffler (Huey) of Topsham, Maine, Matthew Goodnow, of Homer, Alaska and Reverend Emily Goodnow (partner, Noah Garrison) of Bridgton, Maine. In addition, Helen is survived by 18 great grandchildren. Her survivors also include: Arthur, Cindy, Dianne and Richard Lourie, the husband and children of her cousin Natalie.
A celebration of Helen's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at the Marlborough Federated Church, with a reception following at the Marlborough Community House.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Irvin and Helen Gordon Scholarship Fund, C/O the Federated Church, 16 Pleasant Street, Marlborough, New Hampshire 03455.
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Published by Union Leader on Jun. 13, 2017.