Helen Mary Gorski, 86, Loved the Vineyard

Helen Mary Gorski died Friday, Sept. 17, at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Oak Bluffs at the age of 86. Helen was born in New York city on Oct. 15, 1917, to Henrietta and Michael Ilaszczat, who were natives of Poland and Ukrania.

Helen grew up in New York city, one of nine children. She had four brothers, George, Paul, William and Edward and four sisters, Mary, Josephine, Jenny and Alice. Josephine Kavanagh age 90, is Helen's only surviving sibling and lives in Sparkhill, N.Y. She has visited Helen on Martha's Vineyard several times since Helen and her husband Joseph, now deceased, moved from New Jersey to the Island in 1990.

Helen and Joe lived in Utica, N.Y., which was where he was born and raised. During those years she loved working as a housemother at St. John's Orphanage. They later moved to New Jersey to be close to her family and she worked at Texas-US Chemical Company. Her main focus though was dolls and doll houses and making holiday decorations for home and community events. She created elaborate costumes and clothing for dolls and donated them to charity fundraisers. She was also devoted to the lives of her daughter, Barbara Bennett and her husband Bill, and their four children, Elizabeth, Courtney, Daniel and David.

Her daughter and her family started summering on Martha's Vineyard in 1976 and Helen and Joe visited them and fell in love with the Vineyard. In 1990 they moved from New Jersey to senior housing at Hillside Village. As a volunteer team, they gave service to many Island needs. After her husband's death in 1996, Helen's volunteer commitment was to the Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven. She moved to the Love House and walked down Main street faithfully to work in the Thrift Shop and dressed many dolls that were sold there. In 1997 she received the Volunteer of the Year Award, and at age 80 she modeled in the Thrift Shop fashion show. Barbara and Bill Bennett are now residents of West Tisbury, and while Helen was a Windemere resident it gave her great joy being on the Island with its happy memories here with her grandchildren. Her three great-grandchildren, Bennett, Morgan and Owen are now enjoying many of those same activities each summer.

Helen leaves her daughter, Barbara Bennett and her husband, Bill of West Tisbury; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, two grandsons-in-law, her sister, Josephine Kavanagh of Sparkhill, N.Y., two sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Monday, Sept. 27, at St. Augustine's Church, Vineyard Haven, at 10 a.m. A family graveside service will be held in the Massachusetts VA National Cemetery in Bourne, where she will be buried alongside her veteran husband, Joseph Gorski.

Donations may be made in her memory to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.