Helen Yvonne France Matheu, 94, of Short Hills, NJ passed away peacefully at home on February 19, 2015 surrounded by her loving family. Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral mass at St. Rose of Lima Church, 52 Short Hills Avenue., Short Hills, NJ on Monday, February 23, 2015, at 11:15 a.m. followed by interment at St. Teresa of Avila Chapel Mausoleum, Passaic Avenue, Summit, NJ.
Helen was the daughter of Sidney Wesley France and HElen Louisa Lee France. She is survived by her beloved husband of 66 years, John Prendergast Matheu; her son Brant Miller (Lila); her daughters, Kathleen Gaynor (Kevin), Christine Matheu (William, deceased), Jeanine Boyll (Scott); her grandchildren Jillian Dempsey (Alex), Elizabeth Dempsey, Scott Dempsey, and Laurel Cohen; her step grandson Gregory Maxey (Claudia); and step great granddaughter Elizabeth Maxey. Helen’s beloved daughter Rochelle Dempsey passed away in January this year. Helen was preceeded in death by her brothe’s Kent, Daniel, Arnold, and Carter and sister Jeanne.
Helen was born on March 11, 1920 in Salt Lak City, UT and spent her childhood in several western states, primarily California. While working in San Francisco, she met John, and they were married in Larkspur, CA in 1948. They moved to Burbank, CA, then to Park Ridge, IL, and finally to Short Hills with their children in 1959, where Helen was a well loved member of the community.
While living in California as a young woman, Helen worked for the Navy and then as an assistant to the Editor of the Saturday Evening Post. In New Jersey, Helen worked as a librarian and typing instructor at Oak Knoll School and later as a realtor for Nancy Taylor Realtors. She was a long time member of the Rolling Hills Garden Club, serving as Secretary, Treasurer, and President for the organization. Known as an ardent reader, Helen was a member of the Millburn/Short Hill Book Group. She and a group of loyal friends exercised regularly at the YMCA. In addition to other volunteer work, Helen gave her time tiressly to the NJ Commission for the Blind. For Helen, a proud achievement was receiving her Associate’s degree summa cum laude at age 65 from Essex County College.
Helen was known for her genuine kindness, adventurous spirit, independence, intellectual passion, and selfless devotion to her family. She and her husband John were annual members of the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They regularly attended performances at Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Symphony. Throughout their marriage, Helen and John found immense pleasure traveling together throughout North America, Latin America, and Europe, including Russia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen’s memory to the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Rd., Morristown, NJ 07960, www.morrismuseum.org. For further information, please contact Bradley, Smith & Smith Funeral Home, 415 Morris Avenue, Springfield, NJ, 973-376-7777, www.www.bradleyfuneralhomes.com.