Helen M. West, age 94, of Watertown

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:11 AM EDT
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Helen M. West, age 94, of Samaritan Summit Village where she resided for the past 9 years,...
Helen M. West, age 94, of Samaritan Summit Village where she resided for the past 9 years, passed away on Friday, May 26, 2023.(Funeral Home)

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Helen M. West, age 94, of Samaritan Summit Village, where she resided for the past 9 years, passed away on Friday, May 26, 2023.

Helen was born on October 13, 1928 in NYC, the daughter of Frank and Apolonia Petranchuk. She graduated from Washington Irving High School and then attended St. John’s Long Island City Hospital School of Nursing graduating in September 1950. She passed her state boards to be a registered nurse and worked at St. John’s Long Island City Hospital.

Helen married Robert J. West on May 19, 1951 at St. Stanislaus Church in NYC. She and her husband, Bob, returned to the North Country after he completed a tour in Korea. Her husband worked as a teacher and guidance counselor until his death in 1957. After his death, Helen returned to nursing at Mercy Hospital in Watertown until 1967. Helen loved her nursing, but the shift work made it extremely difficult raising 3 young children. She left nursing to become a social worker for Jefferson County Department of Social Services, retiring in 1991.

Helen is survived by her 3 children: Gary (Kim) West, Watertown, NY, Regina (Stephen) Jennison, Myrtle Beach, SC, and Robert (Lucinda) West, Franklin TN; 7 grandchildren: Robert (Amy) West, Fort Knox, Kentucky, Shawn (Katie) West, Glen Park, NY, Eric (Ashley) West, Bowling Green, KY, Ryan (Amy) West, Elmhurst, IL, Andrew (Olivia) West, Nashville, TN, Kelli (CJ) Brobst, Sterling, VA, and Elizabeth Jennison (Tyler Wiggins), Conway, SC; and 11 great grandchildren and one on its way in October. Helen is also survived by her sister-in-law, Veronica (Woney) Petranchuk, and many nieces and nephews whom she thought the world of.

Helen was predeceased by her husband, Robert, her brother, Emil (Sophie) Witkowski, Edward Witkowski, Pauline Witkowski, Alfred (Muzz) Petranchuk, sister-in-laws, Elizabeth (Harlow) Riordan, Virginia (Glenn) Watson, and Marcella Lawler. She was also predeceased by one niece, Linda Witkowski, and two nephews: Stuart Riordan, and Gary Watson.

When Helen’s husband passed unexpectedly at age 29 leaving her with three children, ages 3, 2, and 1, she met this loss and challenge with extraordinary strength and lifetime of unparalleled devotion as a mother. Mom’s determination to meeting life’s challenges was unwavering. She loved to ask questions about life where there were no simple or concrete answers but her faith was “rock solid” especially in “tough times.” Helen had a special bond with her sister-in-laws especially after the death of her husband. The “West Girls” (Elizabeth Riordan, Virginia Watson, Veronica Petranchuk, and Marcella Lawler), and her brother, Muzz, were always there to support her and her three children.

Helen could change the dynamics of a room with her sense of humor, spontaneity, and wit. She loved playing jokes and ribbing her nieces and nephews. She loved playing games with her nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great

children. She was tough to beat at “Wordle”. Helen was known to be called “Mom West” or “Aunt Helen” by close family friends.

Arrangements are entrusted with the Bezanilla-McGraw Funeral Home in Carthage. Mom loved her pearls. Wear your pearls to celebrate Helen’s life. A funeral mass will be held Saturday, July 15 at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Family Church, Winthrop Street, Watertown. The burial will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Evans Mills. A funeral luncheon will follow the burial at Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown. To leave a condolence, go to www.bezanillafh.com.

Per Helen’s request, donations can be made to the YMCA Youth Scholarship (for underprivileged youth) Watertown YMCA, 119 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601 or the Sisters of the Precious Blood, 400 Pratt Street, Watertown, NY 13601

The family of Helen M. West would like to thank the many staff members and those who assisted and comforted her at the Samaritan Summit Village and Henry Keep Apartments over the last several years. Helen’s zest and spirit for life will live on in the hearts of all of us, especially her three children.