TAFFEL, HELEN SOUTHON Helen Southon Taffel, of Woodbridge, CT, died on Friday, July 1st, 2016. She was 99 years old. She was born on September 12, 1916 to Alfred, “Doc” and Emily Southon in Kalamazoo, MI. She attended Kalamazoo College, received her BA degree from the University of Michigan in 1938 and a Masters degree in Nursing in 1941 from Yale University School of Nursing in New Haven, CT. She began her nursing career in Colorado and Minnesota. But in the fall of 1942 she returned to New Haven to join the army as a nurse with the 39th General Hospital, a medical unit affiliated with Yale University Medical Center, which was preparing for deployment in the Pacific. She spent the next three years tending to the wounded soldiers in New Zealand, Guam, Guadalcanal and Saipan in the Pacific theater. She married Dr. Max Taffel, a surgeon also serving with the 39th General Hospital, on September 5, 1944 in Auckland, NZ. Following the war they returned to New Haven, CT where they started a family. For the next twenty-five years she devoted most of her time to raising her four daughters and three sons. She returned to nursing in 1973, first as a school nurse and then for many years as a visiting nurse in the Greater New Haven area. There she received a special commendation for the exemplary care she rendered to her patients. Helen leaves behind her children: Ann (Steve) Hutchings, James (Patti) Taffel, Bill (Katie) Taffel, Meg (Rob) Hodge, Sarah Taffel and David (Ina) Taffel; grandchildren: Robert (Shana) Hutchings, Michael Hutchings, William Hutchings, Nick (Lusine) Hutchings, Matthew (Megan) Taffel, Peter Taffel and his partner Jessi, Jon (Carrie) Taffel, Max Taffel, Dylan Taffel and Phoebe Taffel, James Hodge and his partner Katie, Elizabeth (Dinesh) Penugonda, David Hodge, and Lana and Maya Taffel; and her great grandchildren: Lauren, Max, Helen and Emily Hutchings, Natalie Hutchings, and Calli, Myra and Grayson Taffel. She also leaves behind those few remaining comrades from the World War II hospital unit, her good friends from her many years in Woodbridge and from her tenure at the Visiting Nurse Association. Helen’s children also wish to thank the staff at the Berlin Health and Rehabilitation Center in Berlin, Vermont for their thoughtfulness, kindness and care during the past two and a half years. Helen is predeceased by her parents, her two brothers, James and Frank Southon, her sister, Maude Southon, her daughter, Katherine, her grandson, Andy, and her husband, Max, with whom she shared an intense love and loyalty, equally strong and complementary. Helen was the embodiment of kindness, tolerance, compassion and selflessness. She had a gentleness and grace that drew people to her. She willingly and graciously took on other people’s concerns, easing them through difficult times with a quiet but steely competence. She had a deep conviction that all people were fundamentally equal and deserving of her care and she was unstinting in her delivery of that attention. Accolades were not important to Helen and she would probably chafe at the words used to describe her in this writing. But, it was that humility, in conjunction with her understated but powerful intellect and her other character traits that fostered the unwavering and enduring relationships she had as wife, mother, nurse, and friend. She was a true wonder, an indomitable force with a fierce sense of independence. She was the glue and the linchpin of her family. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for them. Helen is gone from the earth but such was the enormity of her spirit that each of her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren will carry a part of her goodness and strength with them forever. A private family service will be held sometime in the near future to celebrate Helen’s life. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be sent to Andy’s Books for Kids, online at andysbooks.org or by check to Andy’s Books, 11708 Inverway, Belvidere, IL 61008 and to the Katherine Taffel Scholarship Fund, online at neighborhoodmusicschool.org or by check to Neighborhood Music School, 100 Audubon St., New Haven, CT 06510 with Katherine Taffel Scholarship Fund on the memo line.
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