Helen Blanchard (1917-2016)

Helen Alice Spies Blanchard, devoted mother and grandmother, avid reader, and steadfast friend to humans, animals, and plants alike, passed away at her home in Burleith on October 15.


Born in Boonton, NJ, Helen spent a happy childhood with her younger brothers, Raymond and Charles Spies, and their Boston bulldog, Flash. She graduated in 1939 from Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing in Montclair, NJ, and thrived in her nursing career at Mountainside, Morristown, and All Souls Hospitals in NJ and, during World War II, at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN, where she offered care and comfort to her patients and made life-long friends.

In 1941, Helen married Horace Whitman Blanchard, also of Boonton. After World War II, the couple settled in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, where they raised their family, were active in community, church, and school events, and enjoyed being near New York City for work, Broadway musicals, and cultural offerings. They moved in 1990 from New Jersey to Washington, DC, where Helen brought beauty to family and neighbors with her green thumb, entertained close friends, and spoiled her granddaughter. In 2001, the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary before Horace's death in October of that year. When Helen's health began to decline in July 2016, she took comfort in knowing she would be with Horace and other dear relatives, friends, and pets who awaited her.

Besides being a tireless gardener, Helen was a voracious reader, particularly of the daily newspaper and political biographies and autobiographies. A strong, brave, and intelligent woman, Helen made a lasting impact on those lucky enough to cross her path.


Her daughter, June Blanchard Brown, said, "She loved living in Burleith, walking to the nearby stores and flea market. She especially loved working in the garden and delighted in the neighbors stopping by to chat, often with their children and dogs. The flowers my mother planted are her living legacy. I'm thinking of putting on her monument: 'Earth laughs in flowers.' — Ralph Waldo Emerson."

Helen's wise and cheerful presence will be sorely missed by her daughter; son-in-law, Stephen R. Brown; granddaughter, Caitlin Alice Brown; "daughter" via a 1965–66 student exchange program, Cecilia Chauvin Martincic; and generations of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and beloved friends.

She will be laid to rest on Friday, October 21 at Greenwood Cemetery in Boonton, NJ, following a viewing and Mass of Christian Burial. Helen will also be remembered at a Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church (St. Ignatius Loyola Chapel) in Washington on Monday, October 24 at 8 am.