Helen Christina (Ring) Dean
Helen Christina (Ring) Dean of Santa Barbara passed away peacefully at Serenity House on March 27, 2019 at the age of 98. Helen was the next to last of ten children born to William Bernard and Ellen Elizabeth “Nellie” (Dowd) Ring. She was born at home in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, MA on September 15, 1920 and promptly bathed from the sugar bowl which is why, her mother said, she was so sweet.
Helen loved all her siblings but had a special bond with her younger sister, Betty. Her older sister, Mary, widowed for the second time, lived with Helen for the last 15 years of her life. Helen fondly recalled many things from her childhood; her athletic and playful brother Tommy who taught his younger sisters to dance, hopping streetcars for a downtown activity or to deliver the laundry carefully pressed by her mother, and making regular visits to the local library where she became enthralled with the magic of books.
As an eighth grade student, Helen won the school spelling bee and represented St.
Thomas Aquinas (an all-girls parochial school with the majority named Mary) at the next level. She never forgot the word that exited her from the competition at Faneuil Hall, “supersede”. A gift for spelling as well as grammar stayed with her throughout her life.
Helen rarely lost at a family game of Scrabble, frequently corrected the use of language by her children and could be seen daily with a book in her lap.
At 19 years of age she gained employment as a clerk typist for the Overseers of the Public Welfare on Hawkins Street in Boston and began what she often referred to as the
“most wonderful time of life.” Helen made fast friends with her co-workers and joined them in a bowling league, softball league, rooting for the Boston College Eagles (which included a road trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on New Year’s Day 1941) and grilling hot dogs at the beach on many a weekend afternoon.
While at a USO dance she fell under the spell of a handsome sailor. She and Andy married on New Year’s Eve 1944 and were blessed with nine children. Andy’s military career took them from Boston to California to Germany to New Hampshire to Hawaii and finally back to California. Their travels included an epic coast-to-coast road trip in the spring of 1961 driving a Ford Country Squire packed with seven children ages 2 to 15, much luggage strapped on top, an occasional flat tire and memories to last a lifetime. Helen always had a welcoming home and hosted many a holiday dinner featuring recipes from her New England roots including Nana’s apple pie, Indian pudding and the secret Brigham’s hot fudge sauce recipe.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Andrew C. Dean, and is survived by their children and families; Susan (Joseph) Poprock, Michael (Kathryn) Dean, Ellen (Steven) Sherman, Peter (Diane) Dean, Andrea (Phillip) Lea, Monica Dean, Teresa Dean, Patricia (Robert) Tracy, and Katherine Dean along with 9 grandchildren and 15 great- grandchildren. Donations may be made in Helen’s memory to Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care or a charity of your choice. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Saint Barbara Parish at a future date.