Helen Joan Levy died peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, after living valiantly through a long illness. She was with her family at their temporary home in Chilmark, where they have been since March 2020. The hallmarks of her life were kindness, a love of adventure, and bringing people together.
The only child of newly immigrated Elsa Kienzle Levi (Fiji and Australia, via Germany) and Hans Levi (Germany), Helen was born in 1935 in New Orleans, La., and raised in Highland Park, Ill. Helen was working in Chicago when she met Carl Levy while skiing, an activity they would continue to enjoy with each other and their future family throughout their lives. After a long courtship and whirlwind marriage, Helen and Carl moved to Europe to begin an adventure-filled love story. Helen’s ability to connect with people and forge lasting relationships, along with her desire for new experiences, made her a perfect partner for Carl, whose career took him to Belgium, Norway, France, Spain, England, and Italy throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Despite the challenges of raising a family in different foreign countries, Helen embraced the people and culture of each assignment, resulting in lifelong friendships and many joyful memories. In 1988, Helen and Carl retired to Kenilworth, Ill., which served as their home base until 2017, when they moved to New York City to be with family.
Always active in her community, Helen served on the boards of the American School of Madrid and the Selfhelp Home in Chicago, volunteered for the Shining Stars Foundation in Colorado, and contributed as an active member of various international women’s clubs, the Little Traverse Yacht Club, and several book clubs. With her love of people, family, and adventure, Helen traveled as far as Samoa and New Guinea, and spent years researching and expanding her family’s lineage to include over 1,000 family members. She subsequently wrote a treasured ancestral history and personal memoir, capturing her own far-flung adventures as well as those of generations before her. Through these heirlooms, Helen’s charm and thoughtfulness will continue to touch the lives of many.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Carl Levy, her loving daughters, Colette Levy and Lisa Levy Goldberg, and son-in-law Jon Goldberg. She also leaves four grandchildren, and many dear friends and relatives around the world.
Interment will be in Red Butte Cemetery in Aspen, Colo. Due to the strictures of the pandemic, a memorial service will be held in the later part of 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Shining Stars Foundation in Colorado (shiningstarsfoundation.org, 970-726-8009) or the Selfhelp Home in Chicago (selfhelphome.org,773-985-5942) are welcomed.
The family wishes to thank the many people on Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere who helped make Helen’s last months full of beauty, comfort, and grace. This was even more remarkable given the context of these difficult times for all. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.