My mother, Helene Mary (Guterch) Belas, passed away on November 1, 2017 at the age of 101. While I, her family and friends mourn her passing, we also celebrate a life well-lived. She was born May 2, 1916 in Indian Orchard, MA, the daughter of the late Jacob and Katherine (Bednarz) Guterch. She was the youngest of the three children, watched over by her late sister Wanda and late brother Eugene.
The family moved first to New Haven, CT, and later to Southington, CT, where Jacob and Katherine remained for the remainder of their lives. There, my mother grew up, and when World War II began, enlisted in the Navy WAVES. As a member of the WAVES, my mother was stationed in Washington, DC working at the Navy Dept. as a Yeoman, 2nd class. She often told me how much she enjoyed Washington and her time with the WAVES, having made life-long friends who she visited long after her duty ended in 1946.
After the war, my mother returned to civilian life and Southington. She earned a degree from what is now Quinnipiac College, and joined the General Electric Company as an executive secretary. (The first photo in this blog entry is from her GE employment.) During this time -- approx. 1948 to 1950 -- she and her girlfriends frequently traveled and vacationed together. I regret only vague memories of their names: Lola, Elsie, and Polly (Fogliotti, I think) is the best I recall. However, while names escape me, it's very obvious from numerous photographs of their exploits that they enjoyed each others' company, and had a lot of fun together skiing, boating, site seeing, and golfing.
While golfing at the Southington Country Club in 1950, she met Michael (Mickey) Belas, the man she would ultimately marry in late 1951.
Helene and Mickey raised two children: I was born in 1953 and my brother, David, in 1955. After her "boys" grew up, my mother rejoined the workforce, as a teacher's aide working in the Southington School system for many years, and guiding the path of enumerable children who are now adults with kids of their own.
My parent's marriage of nearly 50 years closed at the passing of my father in 2010. Since his death, my mother lived at Mulberry Gardens of Southington assisted living, where she enjoyed playing bingo, assorted card games and walks around the yards. My mother thrived while at Mulberry Gardens, in large measure due to the never-ending attention given her by my sister-in-law, Lorraine, and her two children, Stephanie (Blanchette) and David Alan. We also deeply thank the staff at Mulberry Gardens for the wonderful care they gave her during her stay.
We said goodbye to my mother this past Saturday, November 4, 2017. She was buried with military honors provided by two Navy seamen and three VFW members, including a flag-draped coffin, a gun salute, and the playing of taps. It was a moving experience, and I'm sure my mother would be pleased.
And so, we celebrate her long and well-lived life, and from her son: Mom, thank you for everything.