Helen Spencer, a psychologist at the West Haven Veterans Administration hospital, died on Sunday, May 8th, at the age of 64. She is survived by two children, Kathleen Spencer of Burbank, CA and Christopher Spencer of Philadelphia, PA. Her death, at Yale New Haven Hospital, was the result of complications arising from ovarian cancer, which she had been battling against for two years. At the Veteran's Administration, Helen was the Assistant Director of Program Evaluation for out-patient PTSD treatment centers across the country. In her capacity as statistician for NEPEC (the Northeast Program Evaluation Center,) Helen co-authored each annual report to the U.S. Congress on the status of the mental health of veterans, 'The Long Journey Home.' Through this work she helped countless veterans in their struggle with PTSD and related mental illness. Before her appointment to that position, Helen worked as a clinical psychologist with the in-patient veterans at the West Haven VA. Helen was born in Hammond, IN on October 21, 1946 to the late Lloyd and Delphia Minter Holsclaw. A graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa, she moved to New Haven in 1972, and, after starting a family, received her Masters in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and soon began working at the VA Hospital, where she worked for over 25 years until the time of her death. A devoted single mother, Helen worked tirelessly to support her children in their academic and professional careers. Well-loved by neighbors and coworkers, she cared deeply for the friends she made throughout her life and maintained those friendships across long distances. Helen's knowledge was encyclopedic, but she was quick to laugh and possessed a refined sense of humor. She was a devoted environmentalist who loved fishing, hiking and camping, and was a talented gardener, seamstress, and cook. She cared passionately about social justice, equality, and progressive issues, and saw her work at the VA as an extension of those concerns. She loved to travel, touring Europe in her youth, as well as visiting Italy and Australia with her children. Everyone whose lives she touched misses her terribly. Friends are invited to a Graveside Service on Thursday, May 12th at 12 Noon in East Side Cemetery, 125 South Pease Road, Woodbridge. BEECHER & BENNETT- TAYLOR FUNERAL HOME, 410 Campbell Ave., West Haven in care of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, we would ask that donations in Helen's memory be sent to the Sierra Club National Headquarters, 85 Second St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105 sierraclub.com

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  1. Dear Kate, Christopher, and Michael, We are deeply saddened at Helen’s passing. Our deepest condolences to all of you. Jeff and I will always remember her light, love, and laugh, and the joy she always brought into our home. Jeff wants to visit the ocean on Thursday and remember Helen with the scattering of a lei. Sending you thoughts of love and strength. Love, Jeff and David We will remember her on Thursday

  2. Dear Katie and Chris, Your mother was full of life, love, wisdom, and laughter. Our work at NEPEC will not be the same without her and I will cherish my memories of her.

  3. Dear Katie, Christopher, and Michael, I am deeply saddened to hear about your loss. My warmest condolences to each of you. Your mother had the great gift of energizing a room with her dazzling smile, laugh, and wit. As a child, I always wanted to grow up to be just like Helen with her great curiosity about knowledge, and her ability to make everyone she touched feel like they were the only ones that mattered to her. I will miss her greatly, and never forget the joy she bought to me as a child and an adult. Sending you a warm hug and resilience for the upcoming months. Love,

  4. Dearest Katie, Chris, and Mike- We are so deeply sorry for your loss. Helen was such an amazing lady – so full of life and wisdom. We cherish the beautiful memories we were able to share with her. Our hearts and thoughts are with you, and we send you all our love across the miles.

  5. Dearest ones, I’m so sorry for your loss. It was a privilege to know Helen and I am glad we were able to celebrate happy occasions with her. May she rest in peace. If there is anything you need,we are here. much love.

  6. I am so sad to hear of Helen’s passing. We worked together at NEPEC between 1999 and 2003. She had a heart of gold and was a special woman in all aspects. She spoke with enormous pride of both her children. She will be missed.

  7. Kate, Chris and Mike, I am terribly saddened by this news; our thoughts are with you all. She was a fun and wonderful woman and we were all lucky to know her. May she now rest in peace. She will be missed. With Love,

  8. Kathleen and Christopher, My sincere sympathy of the loss of your dear mother. She was my favorite patient. I will miss her in West Haven. Sincerely, Kris Vaccino (Dr. Hauser’s office).

  9. Katie and Chris you have my deepest sympathy for the passing of your Mother, I will miss her laugh, sense of humor and our conversations very much. I hope in years to come you will look back and treasure what you had as a Mother, because I know what I had as a friend.

  10. My deepest condolences to Katie and Christopher. I enjoyed many games of trivial pursuit with Helen – though no one had a chance at beating her – encyclopedic mind indeed. All my sympathy, Suzy (Courtmanche) Benitez

  11. My sincerest condolences for your loss Kate. May she rest in peace. If there is anything you need, we are here.

  12. Please accept our deepest sympathy and sorrow for your loss. Helen was a wonderful woman and we will miss her presence and beautiful smile in the neighborhood.

  13. Chris & Kathleen, So sorry to hear about your loss. I remember Helen fondly- as both a sweet lady and a good mom.

  14. Dear Kate and Chris, My deepest sympathy on the loss of mom. She was a kind, wonderful, woman with an infectious laugh and kindess, unmatched. I’ll miss talking with her and laughing with her. Keep her memory alive in your heats, and she’ll never be gone from you.

  15. Dear Katie and Chris, I am so very sad to hear of Helen’s passing. Helen was such a fabulous woman and had such a warm manner that always made everyone else around her comfortable. I regularly recall those many fun years, and especially holiday visits, with the three of you in West Haven between 1977-1989 when I lived in Boston. And, (oh!) the fun time we had when you visited in Portland in 1995! Those memories are, and will be forever, alive in my mind. Death can’t take away or change those memories. Helen will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss, Love, Cousin Peggy

  16. Dear Chris and Kathy, I was very saddened by Helen’s death since I have always considered her one of my dearest friends. I have very fond memories of both of you and Mom, and am most thankful for knowing all of you. Sorry, but I won’t be able to go to the funeral because of my health and the distance. Wish that I could be with you during this difficult time. Love, Flo Singer

  17. Dear Kate and family, Words cannot express how sorry we are to hear of your loss, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Pilar(sr), Elisabeth and Catherine

  18. Dear Kate, Chris and Mike – We are so saddened to hear of Helen’s passing. Her incredible spirit lives on in all she touched – especially her amazing children. Our thoughts are with you. Much love, Shannon & Robert

  19. Dear Kate & Christopher no one can experience this sadness as you do,your feelings are unique and very personal to you.Just know how much you are cared for by all that think of you. May your mother .rest in peace. God Bless Sandy Kourkoulis (Sophia’s mom)

  20. Our sincere condolences on the passing of your mother. She was our neighbor and a wonderful person to be around. We will miss her on West Rock Avenue.

  21. We will miss Helen and her beautiful smile. Be strong Kate, Mike and Chris. We love you. Alice and Len

  22. Dear Kate– It takes meeting you for only 5 minutes to know what an amazing human being you are. Recently, I heard that the Dalai Lama attributes his kindness to having had a kind mother. That makes sense to me. And with that logic– it only takes meeting you for 5 minutes to know that you come from an amazing and incredibly strong and very kind mother. (I consider myself truly blessed to have known you for way more than 5 minutes– and honored to have met Helen on multiple occasions.) You, Chris and Mike have my deepest sympathies during this upside down time. Your family continues to be in my thoughts. Sending you so much love.

  23. Kathleen and Christopher, My sincere sympathy of the loss of your dear mother. She was my favorite patient. I will miss her in West Haven. Sincerely, Kris Vaccino (Dr. Hauser’s office).

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