Helen Winne Mulligan passed away on March 15, 2021 at the age of 101 after a full and healthy life.
Helen was born Helen Smith, on April 13th, 1919 in the Town of Exeter, New York. She was the daughter of E. Frank Smith and Hazel Pratt Smith, the fifth of six children. She grew up in Schuyler Lake.
Helen had three older brothers, an older sister, and a younger sister. The oldest boy, Eugene, drowned when he was 9 years old. Helen’s mother died when Helen was six years old. Her father was left with five children, ages 13, 11, 9, 6 and 2. The two oldest, Francis and Glenn quit school to help their father with his coal, feed and grain business Helen’s older sister, Margaret, who was nine, helped with the housework and the cooking. For 2 years, after her mother died, Helen spent the winter months with her aunt and uncle a few miles away.
Helen’s brothers, Francis and Glenn served during WWII. When they returned, Francis worked as a bus driver and Glenn became a chef. Helen’s older sister, Margaret, married and had six children. Margaret died when she was 38. Catherine (Catherine Smith Van Allen) her younger sister, who lived in Richfield Springs, had four children. Helen remained close to her sister and her nieces and nephews.
In high school, Helen was a star basketball player and a serious student. She loved to go to dances and would sometimes go with her brother; in those days, you had to go with someone, when going to a dance.
Helen met Lewis Winne in her high school years. They were married on April 23, 1939 and raised two daughters and a son, Carol, Bob, and Kay. Lewis was a butcher for the Clark family and for the Grand Union. He then worked at the Cooperstown Post Office for 32 years before his retirement. Lewis enjoyed hunting, fishing, and playing sports.
Through the years, Helen and her family lived in the same house that they purchased in 1950 on Route 28 in Fly Creek. Lewis and Helen enjoyed going out for dinner, dancing, and playing cards.
They also played golf and in the winter months, cross country skied.
Helen was always active, and her hobbies included gardening (roses), golf, traveling, dancing and cooking. She always loved to try out new recipes. She was also on a bowling team that sometimes traveled to tournaments. Helen took up golf when she was 45 and loved the game. Helen worked as a beautician and had her own business in her home.
Helen and Lewie always had a huge garden, growing “organic” veggies long before that term was fashionable. They raised many animals … cows (for milk and butter), sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys.
That was the food supply for the family.
Sadly, Helen’s husband Lewis, died in October 1992 after a long illness. Her friends and family encouraged her to travel and she went with a group of women to Europe, sailing on the QE2. Helen also took trips to Hawaii and Mexico.
Sometime after Lewis passed away, Helen went to a Leatherstocking Golf Course cocktail party and enjoyed socializing with an old friend and acquaintance, Bob “RJ” Mulligan. A special bond developed, they started dating and then, later, taking trips together with RJ’s daughter and husband. RJ proposed, and even asked Helen’s kids if they thought it was alright to marry. Helen and RJ were married by Father Roos on October 27,1997. They had a wonderfully big wedding celebration with all of their families. They were devoted to each other and had many happy times. They loved dancing, going out for dinner, playing golf and traveling. RJ passed away August 12,2017 at the age of 90.
When asked what they loved about Helen, staff from Woodside Hall, where she resided during her final years, said she was a “firecracker” and a “spitfire.” Her family agrees. Helen had a lacerating wit, a sharp sense of humor, a profound zest for life and a deep, abiding love of family. She loved to host and attend parties. She enjoyed a nightly cocktail until she was more than 100. She made new friends at every stage of her life. She gave her family the gift of her time: she was front and center at every birthday party, holiday gathering, graduation, and special occasion, and she was also there for countless Sunday dinners and casual conversations. She danced at the weddings of two of her great-grandchildren and wore out her dance partners.
Helen was a fiercely competitive athlete, first on the high school basketball court and then for the rest of her life on the golf course, but she always practiced good sportsmanship first. She was a force of nature with boundless energy, a larger-than-life whirling dervish with a laugh and a grin, who always found herself at the center of the action. She was a source of great strength and support to every member of her family.
Helen is survived by her daughter Carol Butts and her husband Tom, her son Robert Winne, and his wife Roz, her daughter Kay Pierro, and her husband Bob. Helen a/k/a Gram was adored by her grandchildren and is survived by Tricia Rowley and her husband Mark, Michael Chase and his wife Sharon, John Butts and his wife Laurie, Lisa Winne, Tom Winne, Matthew Winne and his wife Jeni, Kara Winne Massey and her husband Chris, Adam Lewis Hurtubise and his wife Lisa, Kim Pierro Donaldson, and her husband Matt, Josh Pierro, and his wife Greta.
Helen a/k/a GG was loved and admired by her 19 great grandchildren; Kristopher, Alex, Luke, Katie, Quincey, Allison, Wyatt, Nick, Ben, Violet, James, Tyler, Brendan, Daniel, Olivia Helen, Marley, Kristen, Anika, and Leila and by her 4 great-great grandchildren; Kyrie, Jacob, Adalyn, and Oliver.
Helen is further survived by the Mulligan family including RJ’s children, Rob Mulligan (since deceased), Shawn Mulligan and his wife Susan, Michael Mulligan and his wife Susan, Kit Mulligan Byrd and her husband Michael and many of RJ’.s grandchildren. Helen is also survived by several loving nieces and nephews.
She was pre-deceased by her husbands, Lewis and Robert, son-in-law Don Chase, granddaughter Kathleen Chase and her siblings Eugene, Francis and Glenn Smith, Margaret Wells and Catherine Van Allen.
Helen believed in God and the power of prayer. She was always proud of her Irish heritage and cherished her family and the love they had for each other.
Please consider a donation to the Fly Creek Emergency Squad or the Activities Fund at Woodside Hall.
To honor Helen please plant some flowers, dance the next one and hug a child.
Calling hours will be held at Tillapaugh Funeral Home on Friday May 14, 2021 from 4:30 to 7pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Michael G. Cambi at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown on Saturday May 15, 2021 at 1pm. Covid protocols (masks, distancing and number permitted) will be observed.
When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, tis like the morn in Spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.”