Helena Beasley Neal, affectionately known as Lena and Aunt Lene, was the ninth of eleven children born to the Late Arthur and Olivia (Reddy) Beasley on September 15, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Helena received the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation at Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, located at Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia. Helena loved Jesus. She was loving and charitable to friends and family.
Helena was an athletic girl who swam and played softball at Francisville Playground. She loved to dance and learned ballet, jazz and tap at Miss Lillian’s Dance School. One of her favorite pastimes as a teenager was to participate in dance recitals at Barber’s Hall and various venues around Philadelphia.
Helena attended Bache Elementary School and Robert Vaux Junior High School. She graduated from Overbrook High School in 1957, where she excelled in volleyball and gymnastics which led her to become a gymnastics student teacher.
On June 16, 1962, Helena married the late Melvin V. Neal at St. Madeline Sophie Roman Catholic Church. From their union, they were blessed with two beautiful children Deborah and Melvin Jr. In 1969, Helena and Melvin became the parishioners of St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church. After losing her sight, she remained a devoted and faithful member, until she sustained an injury on her way to church. She continued to watch the mass through livestream on YouTube.
Helena’s caring nature led her to a career in healthcare. In her career of over forty years, Helena worked at Hahnemann Hospital, Parkview Hospital and Northwestern Institute of Psychiatry. Helena was a natural leader. She was elected as a Shop Steward of the Local Teamsters Union 837 at Northwestern until her retirement in 2003.
As a devoted mother and aunt, Helena welcomed the opportunity to assist in her children’s extracurricular activities. She was the President of the Ogontz Boys Club, Mother’s Club. She also coached her nephew Wayne’s basketball team. Her love for people and her civic duty inspired her to become an active member of the Cedarbrook Civic Association where she served until she lost her sight.
Helena was a social butterfly. She enjoyed visiting and spending quality time with family and friends, especially her siblings, Mary Christina, Sandra, Muriel, Mildred, Shirley, James, Richard, Charles, Jean, (who all preceded her in death) and Ruth. Her love for family was immeasurable. We could always count on her for support and encouragement. She always tried to help people. If you needed someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, Helena, Aunt Lene had your back. She gave great advice and support. Her phone would ring all day long with calls from her sisters, brothers, children, nieces and nephews. Helena wanted the best for everyone. She had an open door for a good meal, good times, and a place to stay if you were in need. Helena hosted countless holiday gatherings such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July and the annual Beasley’s Family Reunion. Helena always remembered birthdays and holidays. She always sent birthday and Christmas cards to family and friends. Helena was mother-like to many of her nieces and nephews whose parents passed away. She had a place in her heart for everyone and we will all miss her dearly.
Some of Helena’s favorite pastimes included playing scrabble, 500, Pokeno, completing jigsaw and crossword puzzles, and crocheting. Helena loved to travel and was a member of the Center in The Park and the Neuman Young at Heart Social and Travel Clubs. Some of her favorite domestic vacation destinations included, Atlantic City, Wildwood, Washington, D.C., Florida, Virginia, New York, Memphis, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Her international travel included London, The Caribbean Islands and Canada.
After losing her sight, Helena’s zest for life never diminished. She joined the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired where she learned how to read Braille, attended Bible Study and sang on the ASB choir. Helena loved inviting her family to her recitals. While at ASB, she built a special bond with Yvette McDermott, whom she called her sister-in-Christ.
After Helena’s health declined, she moved to Bear, DE with her family.
Helena leaves to cherish her memory, her daughter Deborah (John) Beville, her son Melvin Neal, Jr., her grandsons Will and David, her sister Ruth Beasley, her Aunt Rose Hill, her sister-in-law Angela Beasley and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
With Special Love, The Family
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