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Helen passed away on October 28, 2023, at the age of 95, due to complications from a fall at home. She was predeceased by her sister, Mary Canfield, and is survived by her husband, Norman J. Johnstone; children, Anne (Paul) Schwartz, Carol (Joseph) Dellavilla, and Peter Johnstone; grandchildren, Kameron (Cal Holcombe) Ackerman & Thomas Schwartz, and Laura (Josh) Englert & Christopher Dellavilla, and Benjamin (Brooke Tenison) Johnstone & Erin (Kyle Wilson) Johnstone and their mother Natalie Johnstone; great grandchildren, Carmen Schwartz-Giordan and Sophia Englert; sister-in-law, Joyce South; cousin, Phil Ackerman, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Helen was born to Ella Jane and Charles Oliver Ackerman, in Wellsville, NY. The majority of her childhood was spent in Perry, New York. After graduating as Salutatorian from Perry High School, she attended Rochester Business Institute and received her Associates Degree. She then moved to Rochester, NY and put her financial acumen to good use at Superba Cravats (once the second largest neck tie company in the world) for several years.
Enter Norman Johnstone, a young Canadian who fancied Helen at first sight. They were married in July 1955, had 3 children, and spent the majority of their 68 married years in the Rush-Henrietta area.
After having children, Helen became a stay-at-home mom, but remained busy in many volunteer activities. She was active in St. Peter’s Church, playing the organ, as a member of the Altar Guild, Sunday School Treasurer, and served on various church committees. She also volunteered as a driver for FISH (Friends In Service Here, part of Rush Henrietta Area Terminal) for many years.
Helen loved sports. In her thirties she became an avid bowler. On a team sponsored by the Pink Puff Beauty Salon, she won many high game trophies. She faithfully followed the Syracuse Orange Basketball team, PGA golf, NASCAR, figure skating, and the Tour de France. But her main sports love was the Buffalo Bills. She was such a dedicated fan, that when one of her grandchildren was being baptized during a game, she snuck a transistor radio in her purse with an earplug, so that she wouldn’t miss a single play during the baptism!
In the early 1980’s, Helen and Norm moved to a 6 acre spread in Rush. Trooper that she was, they had his and her riding mowers to expedite grass cutting, and afterwards would enjoy gardening or cocktails in their floating lounge chairs on the pond. Many memorable summer afternoons were spent with the kids and grandkids playing games, fishing, and swimming in the pond. In the winter, the pond became a skating and hockey rink for all to enjoy. Helen always had hot cocoa waiting in the wings.
Helen loved to travel and see new places. After Norm retired, Helen and Norm had many memorable trips, cruising the Columbia and Snake River; sightseeing on the Rhine and the Danube; they even captained their own longboat on the canals of England. They also toured Hawaii, Tahiti, Russia, and Scotland, to name a few.
Most of all, Helen loved being with her family. She made holidays and birthdays extra special for all. As she got older, the family enjoyed playing lots of games together: “Things” (for which she was known to give a saucy answer or two), puzzles, board and card games, to name a few. Most recently, Farkle became a family favorite, in which Helen clearly was the Farkle queen, collecting her winnings after most games.
Helen was a kind and loving soul who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Cheers to 95 wonderful years!
Family and friends are invited to call from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM on Friday, November 17, 2023, at Miller Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. (3325 Winton Rd S). Memorial service to be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 18, 2023, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (3825 E Henrietta Rd, Henrietta, NY 14467). Private interment to be held at Pine Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent in her memory to:
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
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