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Helen O’Hara Sarkis, age 90, passed unexpectedly at home on January 31, 2022.
Helen grew up in the Highland Park neighborhood of Rochester, the youngest of Raymond and Sarah (Mahar) O’Hara’s five children. Naturally athletic and fun-loving, she enjoyed her childhood swimming and ice skating at the city parks. After graduating from Monroe High School in 1947, She earned her Bachelor’s in Physical Education and Health at Brockport State while working summers as a Lifeguard for the City of Rochester and Charlotte Beach. Helen then taught Physical Education at Monroe and Spencerport High Schools and was the Waterfront Director at Camp Onanda on Canandaigua Lake.
A first date with her beloved Fred (breakfast in Canandaigua before the summer camp day started) blossomed into 65 years of marriage and the education, care and nurturing of her large, active family of athletes and entrepreneurs.
Helen was a devoted friend, wife, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. When she found some time to herself, she “studied” and mastered alpine skiing, tennis and Lebanese cuisine … so that she could teach and engage others in the challenge and the fun of it all. To those in her circle she was everything: partner, teammate, logistics director, dreamer, technician, teacher, coach, official, cheerleader, confidant, advisor, chef, homemaker and an example of gentle grace, support and endless love.
Throughout her life, Helen was the strong yet quiet force keeping those she loved in orbit. Her influence could be subtle, but her impact was not. She knew what you needed before you did, and was a masterful curator of space that felt safe and warm. Love grew where her light shined. We will miss Helen every day, but also celebrate and emulate what she shared and what we learned from her examples of endless love; she taught us how to do it and how to make it so; and the circle will remain unbroken. She rests now, but lives on in our hearts.
Helen is survived by her loving husband Frederick W. Sarkis, and five children Gina (Grant) Cushing, Greg (Ellen) Sarkis, Wade (Joscelyne) Sarkis, Frederick Sarkis Jr., and Josh (Diana) Sarkis; thirteen grandchildren: Leigh Cushing, Zachary Sarkis, Skylar Sarkis, Hannah Cushing, Sierra Sarkis, Remi Sarkis, Sage Sarkis, Peter Sarkis, Frederick Sarkis III, Sydney Sarkis, Jae Sarkis, George Sarkis, Frances Sarkis; Brothers and Sisters in-law: Mary Beth O’Hara, Rita O’Hara, Ann Nealon, James (Jeanne) Sarkis, Victoria Rosa, Deanna O’Connell, Kenneth (Thomas) Sarkis, Josephine Sarkis, caregiver Lashawnda Houser, and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, her brothers Pat, Dick, and Jerry O’Hara, and her sister Eileen Blauw Stellwagen.
Helen’s Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, February, 20th 2022, 12 NOON, at the University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel (1045 Wilson Blvd, Rochester, NY 14611 – CLICK TO VIEW MAP). Please plan to arrive around 11:30, due to the limited parking a shuttle will be provided from the designated parking area.
The livestream will switch over to the reception where we’ll have more memories and opportunities for friends and family to offer remembrances. Join us if you can!
Following the Funeral Mass a Celebration of Helen’s life will be held at the Interfaith Chapel until 3 pm.
Helen’s family respectfully requests no flowers
A contribution in support of the Fred and Helen Sarkis YES PA Endowment Fund through the Newman Community at the University of Rochester (DONATE ONLINE) would be considered a wonderful acknowledgement of Helen’s life and legacy.