John William Helm, 94, of West Hartford, CT and Housatonic, MA passed away peacefully at home with his family on April 7, 2019. John was born November 23, 1924 to John and Grace (Brown) Helm in Hartford. In 1929 he moved with his parents and sisters to California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, enjoying an adventurous life during the depression years living in a cabin built by his father. The family returned to Hartford in 1932 where John began school at St. Augustine. Later the family settled in Farmington.
During World War II in 1943, after completing his junior year at Farmington High School, John enlisted in the US Navy serving as a quartermaster aboard the USS Brantrescue and salvage ship. His ship provided logistic support in Le Havre, Cherbourg, and other ports during the battle of Normandy.
Honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1946, John returned to Farmington to complete his senior year. He then attended Hillyer College and the University of Miami, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1953.John earned a Master’s in Economics from The University of Hartford in 1975.
John was employed as an economic planner and analyst by Pratt and Whitney, and the State of Connecticut’s Labor Department and Office of Policy and Management, retiring in 1987.
For over 30 years, John was the dive coach at Conard, Hall, Northwest Catholic, Granby, Kingswood Oxford and Miss Porter’s high schools; and at Central Connecticut State University, St. Joseph’s, and Trinity Colleges. As a US Master’s Diver, he competed nationally and internationally until age 85.
John also called square dances throughout New England and was a past president of Connecticut Square Dance Callers and Teachers Association.
He enjoyed many camping trips with family and friends, especially 50 summers on Martha’s Vineyard. He always could be counted on to cheer his children’s and grandchildren’s sport events. Hobbies included carpentry and restoring antique cars, and listening to live music performances, especially at the Red Lion’s Den and his son’s Waikiki gigs.
John was blessed to live a long, active, and happy life. He was a true gentleman and a quietly proud member of the greatest generation of Americans.
John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Elaine (Alarie) Helm; his three children: Jeanne Marie (Helm) Kelly and husband Sean of Glastonbury; Susana Helm of Honolulu; and John Helm and wife Elizabeth Schwartz of Honolulu; grandchildren, Lauren, Jason, and Ryan Kelly of Glastonbury and Mia and Tai Masuda of Honolulu; and his sister Janet (Helm) Dauphinais of Farmington. He was predeceased by his sister, June (Helm) Hogan of Farmington. He also leaves many nieces and nephews and special friends.
Calling hours will be at the Sheehan Hilborn Breen Funeral Home, 1084 New Britain Ave, West Hartford on Saturday, April 13 from 1:00-3:00 pm, followed by a Celebration of Life at Elizabeth Park Pond House 4:30-7:30. Burial will be at a later date. Memorial donations in John’s name may be made to Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org).