Helen T. (Fitzgibbons) Shea, 95, a longtime Holyoke resident, passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 17, 2020 from end-stage dementia. She was born in Holyoke, daughter of the late Patrick and Helen (Donoghue) Fitzgibbons. After graduating from Sacred Heart School, Helen earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from our Lady of the Elms College. She continued her education at Fitchburg State College where she received her Master’s Degree in Education. Helen was a dedicated teacher in the Holyoke Public Schools for many years, retiring in 1985. Interestingly, she began her teaching career in a one room schoolhouse in Goshen. She was a communicant of Blessed Sacrament Church and her faith was paramount in her life. Helen is remembered for her sweet demeanor, her sparkly blue eyes, her never-ending smile and her inner strength. She was a loyal Boston Celtics fan up until her last days. Helen was an avid reader and always encouraged her children and grandchildren to invest fully in their education. Music and dancing were two of Helen’s passions and she could be found on the dance floor up through her early 90’s. Helen was very proud of her Irish heritage and faithfully attended the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In her later years, Helen resided at both Loomis House and Mont Marie where she met kind and compassionate caretakers and friends. Throughout her gracious struggle with dementia, Helen maintained her humor, her compassion for others and her endless gratitude. In her last six weeks, Helen was supported by Cooley Dickinson Hospice and her loving family as she completed her life journey at the home of her daughter, Ann. Helen was the widow of John J. Shea who died in 1973. She is survived by a son, James Shea (Lori) of Holyoke, two daughters: Ann Shea of Amherst and Mary Ellen Shea of FL, a son-in-law Atty. Thomas G. Griffin of Holyoke, and eight grandchildren: Alison Shea-O’Connell, Briana Shea-O’Connell, Brigit Shea-O’Connell, Ryan Shea, Brendan Shea, Alanna Griffin, Aidan Griffin and Eileen Griffin and many nieces and nephews. Besides her parents and husband, Helen was predeceased by a son, John J. Shea Jr. in 1973 and a daughter, Patricia M. Griffin in February of this year. She was also predeceased by her four cherished brothers, Patrick, William, Edward and Raymond Fitzgibbons. Helen will be infinitely missed but not forgotten. Funeral services for Helen will be private. Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Donations may be made in memory of Helen to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, 577 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104. In addition, a Mass of Remembrance will be held on Sunday, August 9th at 8:30 a.m. for both Helen and her daughter, Patricia Griffin, at Blessed Sacrament Church, Holyoke. The Mass will be followed by a gathering of family and friends at Wyckoff Country Club.
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