In memory of
Helen Wanamaker
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In memory of
Helen Wanamaker
WANAMAKER, Helen January 19, 1924 - October 7, 2016 Helen was born in Helmsange, Luxembourg, the eldest child of Marguerite Muller and Michael Weiten. She immigrated to Canada the following year to Quebec, and a year later to the village of Makinak, Manitoba. Helen spent her early years enjoying life in a small prairie community, despite the hardships of being a new immigrant, and living in the depression era. She described hard work, along with the joys of growing up in a rural setting where people made their own fun. She enjoyed singing, attending dances in the surrounding villages and towns, and sleigh rides in the winter. In 1942, Helen enlisted in the RCAF and over the next 4 years was posted throughout Canada. Her time in the air force allowed her to experience city living, and she made some lifelong friends. In 1946, she left the RCAF and married Robert Blair. They moved to Flin Flon, Manitoba, in 1949. Robert was killed in a mining accident in 1953, leaving Helen a single parent of two young daughters. She declined an offer to clean offices at night for the HBM&S, and instead went to Winnipeg to take a stenographer's course before returning to Flin Flon to work. In 1955, Helen married Robert (Bob) Wanamaker, and her two daughters returned to live with her. Helen and Bob lived in Creighton, Saskatchewan, and had two more daughters. Helen returned to work at a variety of part-time jobs once her second family was in school. She and Bob retired to Ladysmith in 1986. For over a decade, they enjoyed a life of travel in Canada and the US, bowling, gardening, and cheering on the Blue Jays. In 1988, she travelled to Luxembourg for the first and only time, and met aunts, uncles and cousins. She saw the house in which she was born, and the homes where her parents were raised. After Bob's death in 1999, Helen moved to Victoria. For the last 17 years, she was a very active volunteer at the Fairfield New Horizons Centre. Mom often described her volunteer work during her 70s and 80s as "helping the seniors" even though many of them were younger than she. She also took many cruises and bus trips, including to Seattle to see her Blue Jays. Helen was real character - strong willed, determined, opinionated and feisty. She loved sports and politics, CBC news and a good laugh. One of the mysteries occupying her last months was speculating about who would replace Peter Mansbridge. As during her childhood, music was both a joy and a solace. Like her father, she was a great storyteller, and had an amazing memory for dates. Helen enjoyed robust health throughout her life - beating ovarian cancer at age 62, and a heart valve replacement at age 86; but at age 92 was content to let kidney cancer take its course. She considered herself very fortunate to have exceptional medical help - first with Dr. Judy Fries, followed by nurse practitioner, Ruth Larson. Their care meant a lot to Helen and her daughters. Helen was predeceased by her husbands, Robert Blair (1953) and Bob Wanamaker (1999), youngest daughter, Kathy Hnatiw (2016) and sister, Amelie Austin (2007). Helen leaves behind three daughters, Barbara Isaac (Barbara), Eldeen Blair and Lori Wanamaker (Silvia) granddaughters, Andrea, Courtney, Kala and Alexis, and great-granddaughters, Arielle, Janai and Sianna, brothers Martin (Adrienne) and Jim, and many nieces and nephews. No service by request. Online Condolences may be offered at
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Sands Funeral Chapel - Victoria
1803 QUADRA ST At North Park Street , Victoria, BC V8T4B8
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