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Helen Ruth Newman, age 91, of Independence Township, Clinton, PA, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Helen was born on August 14, 1932, at her home in Neville Island, PA. She was preceded in death by her parents, Anna (Stewart) and Richard Hastings. Helen was a devoted wife to the late Richard C. “Dick” Newman; beloved mother to Martha “Marty” Newman (Darrell Dodds), Anna Newman, Marie (Roy) Brosi, Heidi (John) Zook, and Myrna Newman; cherished grandmother to Justin (Caitlin) Brosi, Heather Zook (Michael Varga), Kaitlyn Zook (Ryan Carlin), Rachel Zook (Michael Miles), and Sara “Sadie” Collins; adored great-grandmother to Riley Miles, Noah Miles, Lily Carlin, and Sophie Carlin; loving aunt to many nieces and nephews.
In 1936, as a young girl, Helen experienced the devastating Pittsburgh flood. She vividly remembered the fear and trauma of the situation as they had to evacuate their home and move to a higher floor in a municipal building until they were rescued. In the 1940’s, Helen and her family moved to a farm in Clinton where she had to walk several miles to attend a one-room school and later to catch a bus to high school. One day, Helen decided to skip school and hid in a barn until school was over. However, she misjudged the time and arrived home early resulting in a reprimand from her parents and a lifelong nickname of “Barney” given to her by her brother-in-law.
After high school, she worked as a telephone operator for Murdocksville Telephone Company. During this period, she met Dick Newman, whom she eventually married, and moved to his family’s farm where they raised five daughters. Helen’s passion for gardening was well known throughout the community, and one of her greatest accomplishments was transforming the once dilapidated farm into a garden showcase that people often stopped to admire. Her love of gardening grew for over 30 years when she finally decided to become a Pennsylvania Master Gardener at age 68. Gardening was a way for Helen to connect with people, and she was always happy to share her knowledge and plants. Those who visited her garden were likely to leave with a box full of plants to take home. Helen loved nothing more than talking with people, and gardening was her favorite way to do it.
Helen’s favorite volunteer project was working at Raccoon Creek State Park Wildflower Reserve. She dedicated many hours to helping to create and maintain gardens, identifying plants, and giving presentations about wildflowers. Volunteering gave her the opportunity to share her knowledge, meet new people, and work outside, which she preferred to being indoors.
Helen was a talented and passionate individual with many interests including art, music, genealogy, and sewing. She learned to play the piano while living on Neville Island and continued to play throughout her lifetime. For many years, Helen was active in the local church and participated in many roles including playing the piano and singing in the choir. Apart from church activities, she also entertained her young daughters by playing the piano while they danced around the house with joy.
Helen won numerous awards for her paintings and drawings and continued the creativity throughout her life. In addition, she had a life-long interest in history, especially genealogy, and created genealogy books for each member of her extended family.
Helen had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to joke around with anyone present. She joked with doctors and nurses until the end. Above all, Helen was mother to five daughters, and she cherished spending time with them and their families. When asked about what she was most proud of, she would reply that it was raising her daughters to be respectable people. She will be sorely missed. Family to receive friends at the HERRICK COMPASSIONATE FUNERAL SERVICE, PC, Edward M. Herrick, Supervisor/Owner, 951 Cliff Mine Rd., North Fayette Twp., Imperial, PA, 724-695-7332, on Sunday, October 29, 2023, between the hours of 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. A memorial celebration of Helen’s life will be held at Raccoon Creek State Park Wildflower Reserve Interpretive Center, 525 Lincoln Hwy., 482 US-30, Clinton, PA, on Sunday, November 5, 2023, from 1-3 pm. It is respectfully requested memorial donations be made in Helen’s honor to Friends of Raccoon Creek State Park, 3000 State Route 18, Hookstown, PA, 15050. Rest in peace, Helen.