Lona Helmeci

Lona L. Helmeci

Tuesday, July 4th, 1933 - Monday, January 6th, 2020
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Lona L. Helmeci of Cumberland Head, completed her earthly journey on January 6, 2020 at CVPH/UVM Medical Center. Lona (aka Lady Liberty) was born on July 4, 1933, the daughter of Linda E. (Lundstrom) and Stephen L. Helmeci in Ashtabula, Ohio. She was predeceased by her parents and brother Stephen. Lona is survived by her beloved nephew Christopher (Barbara) Helmeci of Mt. Lebanon, PA, and their sons, Stephen and Daniel, sister- in-law, Patricia Helmeci of Mt. Lebanon, PA; her cousins, Lawrence Kaufman of Ashtabula, Patricia Louth, Janet Reynolds, and Joanne Lawson, all of St. Petersburg, Florida and Joanne Tobias of Ashtabula. Also surviving Lona are members of Lona’s loving extended family, Anne Marie Morgan of Plattsburgh, NY, Sharon Basso, Orleans, MA, and Keith Basso of Manila, PI., spouses and their children, Joey Smith, Luke Basso, and Shea Basso.
Lona’s educational journey began in Ashtabula through high school. She then achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Kent State, Ohio, and a Masters of Education (Reading Remediation) at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her early career years were in New York City, where she worked as a Graphic Artist, an Elementary Art Teacher on Long Island, and a Social Worker in Harlem, NY and Ashtabula. Lona placed many foster and adoptive children in loving homes during those years, often carrying newborn infants on the Staten Island Ferry to foster homes. She also taught at the International School of Prague at the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia and upon returning to the U.S. taught Remedial Reading at Peru Middle School for twenty years.
Lona was not only an artist on paper and canvas; she was an artist of the soul, and touched countless lives with her kindness and generous spirit. She listened to you with her heart. A former student once approached her and said, “Ms. Helmeci, you were always kind and made us feel good about ourselves.” She often gifted her students with sketches she drew of them in class. Of Finnish descent, Lona epitomized the Finnish word SISU, which is almost untranslatable, but as the Finns say, has a magical, mystical quality of inner strength, perseverance, resiliency and sustained courage in the face of adversity that is carried through life in all they do.
She was filled with curiosity of other cultures, and travelled extensively throughout Europe over the years, always adding to her bucket list of visiting art museums. Lona was a member of the Visual Artists’ Network in Plattsburgh, an art Docent at SUNY, Plattsburgh, and also a volunteer with Cumberland Head Tomorrow. The past twenty years living on the shores of Lake Champlain were in her own words, “saving the best for last.”
As per Lona’s wishes, there will be no calling hours, Arrangements will be made with the Brown Funeral Home, Plattsburgh, NY. A celebration of her life for family and friends will be held at a later date, hopefully, on July 4th!. She will be interred in Ashtabula, Ohio in Edgewood Cemetery with her parents and beside her brother, Lady Liberty’s journey home finally completed.
To paraphrase the artist Georgia O’Keefe, Lona found she could say things with color and shapes that she couldn’t say any other way, things that she had no words for.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Brown Funeral Home, 29 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. Online condolences and memorial candles may be offered at
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Theresa Adams

Posted at 03:07pm
Lona was a bright light indeed! And Lona will continue to brighten our lives with wonderful memories and inspiration. When I was young librarian in Peru Junior-Senior High School, Lona was instrumental in getting students involved in the fun of reading and operating video equipment, which was kind of a new thing back then. Lona participated with her students in the Pig-Out on Books, and kept the laughter going among the staff, students, parents, and visiting pigs. Lona, we can still hear you laughing!

When my son was hospitalized with serious injuries during and after the Big Ice Storm, Lona provided shelter and encouragement for me until we could return to our Saranac Lake home. These are kind deeds one never forgets. In reading the memories of others who knew Lona, I can see she spent a lifetime radiating love, humor and kindness. Lona, we can still feel your kindness!

Theresa Adams
School Librarian


Duncan Payne

Posted at 09:11pm
My condolence and empathy to Lona Helmeci's family and friend. The world is a little less now. I am forever graceful and thankful to have Miss Helmeci as my Resource Center teacher at the Peru Central High School in the mid 1970's . I had Miss Helmeci for two years. Miss Helmeci was responsible for giving me the encouragement, confidence and trust. Miss Helmeci challenge me to climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean and discover the wonder of the world. Miss Helmeci played a special role as who I am today. For that I am honor. You see, I am Deaf and had a learning disability. I had and will always tell a story about how Miss Helmeci guided me to read, write and solve problem. After I overcome, adapt and improvise for myself; Miss Helmeci then had me help assist other student in Resource Center with their homework, class work and etc. Now you see, I taught as a teacher for 24 years and coached for 32 years. Miss Helmeci, thank you, rest in peace and God speed!

Lisa Meconi

Posted at 11:50am
Dear Anne Marie and family, Lona was a very special woman and such a treat to meet. It touched my heart that she was so enamored of our son and he was really just as fond of her. It was sweet to see him so instantly intrigued by her. She seemed like such a gentle person who is just naturally wonderful with children. I'm sending you a very big virtual hug and will do so in person next time I see you. (Love from Lisa, and Mac, of course)

Bonnie Healey

Posted at 09:40am
I didn’t know Lona well or long, but you only had to meet her once or twice to know she was an extra ordinary person. I met her at a docent meeting where we had only a couple of conversations, and later as a client. She had a effortless grace about her that immediately put you at ease, and she was the sweetest nicest person I have ever met, and I suspect there are many other people whose lives she touched if only for a moment or so feel the same as I. My deepest condolences to all of her family, extended family and friends. Bonnie Healey

Esther N Dominy

Posted at 08:32am
Ann Marie: I am so glad you spoke to me in Condo's the day Lona was getting her flu shot, so I could "visit" with her for a few minutes. I know she did not know who I was but she was able to greet me like she knew me. She looked so good. I am happy I got to see her not too long ago. When I was teaching at the Junior High I Peru, I shared home base in the reading center with Lona. She was always so good to the students and helpful to me.
I applaud your dedication to Lona in caring for her, through ups and downs of her battle with illness, falls and all the other things
that you had to "see to". Esther Dominy Retired Peru Teacher

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