Helen Vera Sadowy Reimann died of cardiac arrest on May 12 at home in the loving company of her husband of 57 years, William Page Reimann. She was 83.

Born on Jan. 16, 1935, Helen was the daughter of the late John (Ivan) and Catherine Hawrylenko Sadowy. She attended Washington Irving High School in New York city, excelling in art and mathematics, and graduated from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where her focus was on painting in oil. Initially awarded a Fulbright grant through the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, her award was revoked after the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite.

She went on to Yale University, where she received an MFA in 1959. The Yale Art Department, headed by Josef Albers, was one of the finest teaching institutions of the day. Still, her talent distinguished itself, with advancement opportunities offered by mentor Bernard Chaet, among others. She was a finalist for the department’s Alice Kimball English traveling fellowship in 1959, but the award ultimately went to a male student. Helen’s paintings during this period were much desired and did not stay in the studio long. Owing to the technological limitations of the day, there is no catalog of this work.

Also at Yale she met her future husband, Will. He was awarded the Alice Kimball English traveling fellowship in 1960. They were married June 3, 1961, following completion of his year overseas. After a period of three years in Norfolk, Va., he joined the faculty at Harvard University and the young family moved to Cambridge, where they would remain together for the next half century.

Born into a native-speaking Ukrainian home, Helen grew up in Williamsburg, N.Y.,and later Manhattan. As a teenager, she explored New York’s diverse cultural and artistic offerings and the coffeehouse scene of Greenwich Village. While visiting the building site of the future Guggenheim, architect Frank Lloyd Wright picked her out of the crowd, inviting her and a friend to a behind-the-scenes tour of the unopened building—and dinner. This was the artist’s life that Helen would come to love: spontaneous, conversational, and open to unexpected exchanges. Yet she was also grounded in a darkly comical awareness of life’s tonal contrasts. It was not uncommon for her to come home to find her mother, Catherine, asleep in her bed, a simple but effective strategy for monitoring her daughter’s schedule. And as Helen experienced the personal highs of recognition during the 1950s, her parents, illegal immigrants from Soviet Ukraine during the 1920s, were threatened with deportation. The family would express long-term gratitude to a program under FDR that had legitimized their status and allowed them to avoid this outcome.

She would come to love her life in Cambridge, but she always felt something of an outsider on account of her Eastern European heritage and modest upbringing. The stress of her immense talent was a double edged sword: the quality of her paintings spoke for themselves, but she never felt she had completed sufficient work. A dedicated partner to Will and tremendous mother to her children, the necessary focus for a consistent return to her work eluded her.

Helen was gracious, acid, intellectually penetrating and generous.

She is survived by her husband, William; her brother Michael Sadowy and his wife, Elizabeth Vivas; her son, Christopher Reimann of Oak Bluffs and his wife Kristen Beaumont Reimann; her daughter, Katherine Reimann Gardner and her husband, Tim; and five grandchildren: Sovigne Page Gardner, Grace Leokadia Gardner, Klara Beaumont Reimann, Ruby Sampson Reimann, and Soren Reimann Gardner.

A celebration of Helen’s life is being scheduled for late June at the Cambridge Boat Club. Direct inquiries to the family for details.