Helen Fricke Mathieson died peacefully at home on November 13th.
Helen led a very full life. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pa on December 7, 1929 to John Fricke and Henrietta Walter Fricke, Helen attended the Shipley School, graduating in 1948. She matriculated to Connecticut College. Graduating in 1952, Helen later served ten years as a trustee of the college, and in 2007 was awarded the Connecticut College Medal.
Helen married Andrew W. Mathieson in 1953, a marriage that lasted 47 years until Drew’s passing in 2001. They had three children, Peggy, Andy and Peter, and nine beloved grandchildren: Abby, Tory, Katie, CC, Daniel, Beca, Michael, Drew and Jack. Helen was extremely grateful for living to see all her grandchildren reach a healthy and productive adulthood. In addition to her children and grandchildren, Helen is survived by her brother Dr. David Fricke of Maryland.
Helen was a dynamo, a force of nature who did not mince words. She drove like a stock car racer, and was very strong-willed about anything she cared about.
Moving to Pittsburgh after their marriage, Helen and Drew settled in Fox Chapel, where Helen was elected the first female member of the Borough Council. She served as President of the Harmarville Rehabilitation Center, and served as President and a board member of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania for twenty-five years.
Helen was ahead of her time as an ardent conservationist. She spent a lifetime preserving trees and wildlands, turning off lights and faucets, and turning down thermostats. Helen was an accomplished bridge player, and was an expert in colonial American Furniture. A highly skilled horticulturalist, Helen loved to garden and arrange flowers. She and Drew raised several golden retrievers; late in life Helen’s constant canine companion was Nellie, her ever present guardian and friend.
Helen spent several adolescent summers with her beloved Uncle Ferris and Aunt Helen on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, working with them at a startup boys camp (Deerwood) which this summer celebrated its 75th anniversary. As adults, Helen and Drew started spending summers at the lake and eventually built a home. This became the gathering spot for children and grandchildren, and for nearly forty summers Helen was an iconic figure, known for her environmental passion and commitment, her ever ready opinions and frequent social engagements where she was often deemed “The Queen” of Squam.
Helen passed away without regrets after nearly nine decades, at her home in Oakmont with those she loved and who loved her madly!
The family plans to have a celebration of Helen’s life in the Spring at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel, PA. and requests that gifts in her honor be directed to:
The Helen F. Mathieson Scholarship Fund for Environmental Studies, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320-4196
To send flowers to Helen's family, please visit our floral section.