Helen Veronica's Story | page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | Helen's Books |

Helen was a strict disciplinarian. Among the lessons she taught her children were the value of a dollar and the importance of family and education. Faith was also an integral part of her family's life. To those around her, the traits of Helen's German heritage were clearly visible. She was strong and stoic, rarely emotional. On the other hand, her husband Joe was very affectionate. Even after many years of marriage, Joe could still make her blush and giggle by kissing or hugging her in public. In addition to the joy of her children's births, Helen experienced the sadness of learning that Jane, her fourth child, was mentally retarded (see note on page 1). At that time, placement in an institution was standard procedure for treating the mentally ill. Helen and Joe, however, chose to raise their daughter at home, and Jane not only completed high school, but also worked for many years doing basic record keeping.

As her first child, Joe Jr., married and became a father himself, Helen had recently given birth to her last child, Jimmy. Again, the evil of war entered Helen's life. When World War II broke out, Joe Jr. entered the Army and was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot while serving in Europe. Helen had faith that he would return home safely, and he did. Upon his return, Joseph Jr. and his younger brothers Jerry and later on Jimmy continued to run the family business, Joseph J. Jones and Sons, for many years. Near the end of the war, her third child, John, joined the Navy. Before he was sent overseas, the war ended and John returned home to pursue a career in law. He went on to become a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. Helen's oldest daughter, Justine, joined a convent as a teaching nun and earned a Doctorate in Science. Another daughter, Joanne, also joined a convent, but left after 20 years and continued her career as a teacher. Meanwhile, Helen's role was expanding from that of a wife and mother to include the new roles of mother-in-law and grandmother. At the same time, she was still raising young children herself.

As her children continued to grow up and marry, Helen sent another son off to war. Her third son, Jerry, fought in Korea, in the "forgotten war." While carrying on with the tasks of daily life, she prayed for his safe return, and again her prayers were answered. Her family continued to blossom. Joseph, John, Jerry, Jacqueline, Jeanette and Jimmy were now married and had families of their own, blessing Helen and Joe with many grandchildren. The business, Joseph J Jones and Sons, had also grown into two television and appliance stores.

During these years, Helen and Joe purchased a large old house in Stony Brook, a quaint village on Long Island. Since the house had no heat or plumbing, renovating it became a family affair. Their children and grandchildren all loved this house as much as they did. Helen, Joe, and their extended family spent wonderful summers and happy, noise-filled holidays in this home. However, Helen's familiarity with war was not over yet. During the Vietnam War, her youngest son, Jimmy, and her oldest grandson, Joseph III, served tours of duty there together. Helen celebrated at a big family party when they both returned home safely.

After this war, Helen and Joe began a new chapter in their lives. Joe was retiring from the family business, now in the capable hands of three of his sons, Joseph Jr., Jerry and Jimmy. He and Helen moved from their home in Brooklyn to live full time in Stony Brook. They stayed very active in their Church, and attended weddings and christenings for their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In front of their family and friends, Helen and Joe renewed their wedding vows and celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Helen had seen several of her children and grandchildren through serious, life threatening illnesses and surgeries, but her life was about to take a drastic turn. After 58 years of marriage, Helen lost her husband, Joe, when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1977. Her children feared she would die without him, and that they would lose her too. At first Helen was devastated, but soon she emerged strong once again. She put her affairs in order, and realized that she could no longer afford to stay in the large house she loved so much in Stony Brook. With sadness in her heart, but a realistic look toward the future, she sold the house and bought a two-bedroom condominium nearby. She was amazed that the bank gave her a thirty-year mortgage, because she was 77 years old! Instead of giving up and withdrawing from life, Helen chose to live. She even tried to learn how to drive at the age of 78, which, thankfully, she gave up after a few brief lessons! Instead, she took the bus provided by her condominium to go shopping and to visit friends.

Next Page

Helen and sister
Helen with sister Anna
(c. 1910)

Helen at 85 with sister
Helen with sister Anna in 1986
at Mary's home
in Green Acres, Florida
-- 1986 --

Looks changed, but the close-knit
feelings of family did not.