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Helen Van Kennen


Helen Hagen Van Kennen, 91, formerly of Ogdensburg, New York, died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, September 16, 2012, at the Emeritus Senior Living Community in Oviedo, Florida.

She is survived by one son - David E. Van Kennen and his companion, Donna Hollis, of Princeton, Massachusetts; three daughters - Karen Van Kennen and her husband, Mark Rodehaver, of Boston, Massachusetts; Nancy VK Livingston and her husband, Calvin, of Fort Pierce, Florida; Leslie VK McDonald and her husband, Paul, of Albany, New York.; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband, George, in 1996.

Helen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 7, 1921, the daughter of Elmer F. and Gertrude Scheiss Hagen. Following high school, Helen attended Miss Connolly’s Business School in Pittsburgh and in 1938, she married George Van Kennen, her high school sweetheart.

“Bud” served overseas during World War II, and after Helen waited almost four years for her new husband to return, they were reunited in 1945. They moved to the North Country, later relocating to a farm on the Eel Weir Road in Oswegatchie. They lived and worked there for twenty-some years, raising three daughters and a son.

When they moved to a new home in Ogdensburg in the early 1960s, they expanded on a longstanding interest and opened an antique shop, which was Helen’s passion. Sharing their love of antiques, she and Bud specialized in early American pottery, furniture and art glass, and were highly knowledgeable in their field. They were greatly respected in the northeast, and had many customers throughout the country. They travelled extensively in their VW van throughout New York and New England, in search of items for Putter Place, their antique shop.

After 55 years together, Bud died and Helen continued to maintain the antique business until a stroke forced her to retire. She moved to Florida and lived for several years with her daughter Nancy and her family, until she ultimately made her home at Emeritus.

Helen loved to travel, and at the age of 79, took a week-long windjammer cruise down the coast of Maine. She traveled in Europe, Asia and North Africa, but still enjoyed exploring New York and New England.

She enjoyed opera and the theatre. She passed on her life-long love of animals to all her children and many family pictures throughout the years prominently feature a pet dog or cat.

Burial will be in the family plot in the Ogdensburg Cemetery. A private family service will be held in Ogdensburg at a later date.

Contributions in her memory can be made to the VITAS HOSPICE CHARITABLE FUND, 2201 LUCIEN WAY, SUITE 100, MAITLAND, FL 32751 or the ST. LAWRENCE VALLEY SPCA, PO BOX 594, OGDENSBURG, NY 13669.

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