Helen Flower was “Mrs. Woodstock” to generations of townspeople

Effervescent, deeply compassionate and caring, enormously proud of her Irish Catholic heritage, and a lifelong resident and devotee of Woodstock for nearly a century, Mary Helen Flower has been lovingly remembered by family, friends, and neighbors since she passed away at the age of 97 in her final home at Merten’s House on July 15.

Flower was known to all simply by her middle name, Helen. “Mom, like my dad, Elliott Flower, who was also a lifelong Woodstock resident, was passionate about her hometown and a devoted employee and constant volunteer over the course of her life,” the Flowers’ eldest child, daughter Lynn Flower Budnik of Essex, said on Monday. “She originally worked as a legal secretary at the old Pierce & Sherburn law firm and later was assistant town clerk in Woodstock in the 60s and early 70s. Mom was there when Fred Doubleday was the town clerk. Fred had a shoe store and mom would be selling shoes in the front of the store and then going to the back of the store to be a witness for a wedding that Fred would be performing. Fred did double-duty as town clerk while he also owned the shoe store,” Budnik said, hearkening back to a simpler, more community-oriented time in Woodstock’s history.

After graduating from Woodstock Union High School in 1944, Helen set out to be a nurse, studying for one year at the former Fanny Allen School of Nursing in Colchester. But the budding nursing career was not to be, as World War II was roaring in Europe and Helen — then Mary Helen McGee — was needed back home in Woodstock to care for a parent. “My grandmother became ill,” Budnik said of Helen’s mother, Annie Gallagher McGee. “[Mom’s] two brothers had been sent to war and her mother had a really hard time with that. She took ill and mom was called home to care for and be a companion for her own mother while the brothers were serving in the Marines.”

Elliott and Helen Flower met in high school and married several years later in 1950. The couple would spend 61 years together until Elliott’s passing in 2011, their lives intricately intertwined with the fabric of the community they both cherished.

Read more in the August 4 edition of the Vermont Standard.