Helen Letkiewicz, of Chenango Bridge went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. She was predeceased by her parents, Peter and Christina Wirchansky; and her loving husband, Walter. She is survived by her two sons, Walter Letkiewicz, Eugene, OR, and Peter Letkiewicz, Chenango Bridge; her little brother, Edward Wirchansky, Yorktown Heights, NY; several nieces and nephews and their families; and her faithful companion and favorite walking buddy, our Beagle, Molly. Helen was born February 5, 1920 in Springfield, MA, where her parents had recently moved from Yonkers, NY. A blizzard was raging the night Helen was born, and with her father ill at home and unable to leave, her mother tried to make her way to the hospital, but the car they were traveling in became hopelessly stuck on a deserted country road. But the first of many occurrences of God's love that would shape her life shone on her expectant mother as a milkman, in his horse-drawn sleigh, came on the scene and safely got her to the hospital. Helen was so small that the nuns feared she wouldn't make it and quickly baptized her. She proved them wrong and from the outset showed what a tough, strong-willed, special woman she was. Her family soon returned to live in Yonkers, where Helen began to put to good use two of the blessings God have given her: a beautiful singing voice and a love of reading. She started singing in public at the age of 4, at church functions and cultural events, and she was so popular she was often rewarded with a quarter here and a quarter there - money she carefully saved, exhibiting a thriftiness that would always be with her. She continued to sing for more than eight decades, performing in shows, singing opera, recording a few records, and singing in numerous churches in Yonkers, New York City, and locally. She loved to read and always enjoyed getting new books. As a child, she had more books than the other neighborhood children and would fashion bookshelves out of egg crates and loan her books out at a penny a book. She dreamed of someday being a librarian. She was always a very intelligent woman and graduated early from Yonkers High School at the age of 16. Her parents couldn't afford to send her to college, so she put herself through business school and landed a job with an insurance agent in Rockefeller Center at the age of 17. Helen was always very organized, dedicated, and thorough in any job she undertook. Her professionalism and ability to handle even the toughest clients so impressed her boss that she was given a substantial raise her first week. Helen loved to travel, visiting most of the US and Canada as well as Cuba. Because of her magnetic personality and great rapport with people, she was often asked by resort owners and tour guides to help with tours, an offer she generally accepted in exchange for a little savings on vacation costs. It was a trip to Echo Lake, PA that would really change her life, for it was there in August 1953 that she would meet her soulmate, Walter. The first night they met, he told her he was going to marry her, and it turned out he was right. They were married on May 22, 1954 at St. Agnes Church, NYC. She joined her Walter in Binghamton, where he had recently become the choir director and organist at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, and of course she joined his choir as well. After the birth of her second son, Helen realized one of her childhood dreams by becoming the librarian at Woodrow Wilson Station. She worked there for many years until the branch was closed, then transferring to the children's room at the main library in Binghamton. She loved to read to the children and they loved the way she read, bringing each character to life with her enthusiasm and love of what she was doing. There are easily hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the world today whose love of reading sprouted from the seeds Helen planted in their hearts and minds when they were children. After scoring the highest marks on the civil service test, Helen left the library to work in the guidance office at Binghamton High School, and then in the principal's office at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. Upon retiring, she received the Conrad E. Sterns Memorial Award for outstanding service to further the development and welfare of youth. Helen had an affinity for languages, speaking Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, French and Latin as well as a little Italian, German, and some conversational Chinese. She was very involved in the PTA for many years, being a district representative and receiving a lifetime membership. She resumed traveling with her husband, Walter, after his retirement and loved to spend time at the family cottage at Gerry Lake in Oxford, NY on property she and Walter had purchased in 1959. She always remained active and loved walking with her beagles. She was a longtime member of TOPS and attended Senior Citizens gatherings where she frequently led the singing. She was a member of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, now The Church of the Holy Trinity, and attended St. Bartholomew's Church in Norwich when at the cottage. She was a great cook and loved to knit and sew. Helen was a caring, loving, strong-willed, dedicated, creative, patient and understanding woman who would sacrifice anything she had to make someone she loved happy. Anyone who was lucky enough to be Helen's friend knows how much she will be missed.
A Funeral Service will be held 9:30 a.m. Saturday, February 2, 2013 at Laskowski Funeral Home and at 10 a.m. at The Church of the Holy Trinity, 346 Prospect St., Binghamton, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Rev. John E. Mikalajunas. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. The family will receive friends and relatives at the funeral home on Friday from 4-7 p.m. Arrangements and supervision by Laskowski Funeral Home.