Helen H. Ordway, 97

Helen Ordway

Helen Ordway

CARMEL, CALIF. — Helen H. Ordway, died early Easter morning, March 27, 2016. She had lived independently at Hacienda Carmel until the final weeks of her 97 years of life.

Helen was born in Chelmsford, Mass., to Lura and John Hardy. She recalled that her best years in school were in a single-room schoolhouse in Eliot, Maine shared by 30 children, grades one through eight. In her teen years she developed her singing voice and often was the soloist at the local Congregational Church. Helen was valedictorian of her high school class in Eliot, but due to the impact of The Great Depression on her family, college was out of the question.

Newell C. Ordway first attracted Helen’s attention by throwing ping-pong balls at her during a church social. Together they went on to cut a terrific figure on the dance floor and the ski slopes. On New Year’s Day in 1937, they were married.

Helen and Newell were part of the early days of New England skiing — they raced on weekends, and in 1957 they were the founders of a ski school at Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton. They raised their son, Alan, and daughter, Ann, through participation in scouting, school activities, and athletics, particularly skiing. Education was to become the driving focus of Helen’s parenting years — she was determined that her children have a better education than she had received. She moved her family to another town for a better school; she worked multiple jobs to help pay for boarding school when the local schools didn’t pass her scrutiny; and she drove them to visit colleges all over New England. Yes, they graduated from college — Alan from Yale and Ann from Wellesley.

The consummate “mother of all inventions” whether it was to design and sew a costume for a dance recital for her daughter or make a set of matching ski parkas for the family, Helen was up to the task. If the septic tank froze when her husband was away, she built a bonfire atop it so it would thaw. Christmas packages were often adorned with a hand-painted card, with punning limericks she had written attached to the ribbon.

Art and design were at the forefront of Helen’s interests, and when she and Newell moved to Calif. in 1979, she was finally able to focus on painting as an avocation. For nearly two decades Helen would create the watercolors; Newell would frame them; and together they would set up displays at local craft fairs, where her works were bestsellers.

After Newell’s death in 1994, Helen moved to Hacienda Carmel where, until recent years, she was a very active member of that community, singing with the chorus, playing bridge and painting with the art group.

Helen was also predeceased by her son, Alan (1940–2013), and her brothers, William Hardy and John Hardy Jr.

She is survived by her daughter, Ann Peterson Mahoney (John) of Carmel; daughter-in-law Michelle Ordway of Bridgton; four grandchildren: Spencer Ordway (Jennifer Landry) of Gorham; Laura Ordway (Stefan Jackson) of Bridgton; Mark Peterson (Mia) of Carmel Valley, Calif.; and Sarah Peterson (Grailing Jones Jr.) of Altadena, Calif.; and eight great-grandchildren: Alexis, Julia and Corliss Ordway; Stefanie and Jacqueline Ordway; Isabel and Jake Peterson; and Marlo Mae Jones.

The family extends its deep appreciation to Teri Porteous of Peggy’s Home Care who was a helper, caregiver and friend to Helen for five years; and to Miriam and Herman Fickewirth of Agape House of Carmel and staff for their excellent care of Helen in her last month of life; and to her very special cat, Donna.

A private service will be held at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove where her remains will be placed with that of her husband, Newell. Gifts in memorial can be made to the Newell C. and Helen H. Ordway Fund, c/o The Maine Community Foundation, 245 Maine Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605 (a scholarship fund for boys attending Winona Camps in Bridgton).

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