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Helen's Story

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Helen Rankin passed away, held in love by her family, January 10, 2017, in her Englewood, Fla., home.
Born May 8, 1948, in Torquay, Devon, England, she came to Westbrook, Maine, with her family in 1963 and quickly settled into life as an American teenager attending Westbrook High School. Upon graduating in 1966 she began classes at the Portland School of Fine and Applied Arts but soon found her real calling was nursing. She graduated from the SMVTI nursing program in South Portland with her nursing degree and briefly worked at Maine Medical Center before moving to Boston and working at Brigham & Women's, St. Elizabeth's and Brookline hospitals. She enjoyed all kinds of nursing but really connected with children and the unique challenges they faced.
In 1978, she and her family moved to Newburyport, Mass., and a few years later she joined the staff at Garden City Pediatrics in Beverly and soon became head nurse with a team dedicated to the care of 100's of area children. In Helen's special way of caring, dedication and devotion to duty, she brought a level of skilled medical care and advocacy for patients' rights that ensured that every child received the best treatment possible.
In 1990, she was ready for a change and became a visiting nurse and eventually joined the Sweetsir Elementary School in Merrimac, Mass., as school nurse. She became involved in the classroom with the children not only as a nurse but used her talent and training as an artist to help the kids with art projects and taught them the use of various media such as clay, paper mache, oil paint, water colors and pastels. In 1995, she and her husband, Steve, opened Gram's Ice Cream in downtown Newburyport, Mass., and two years later, joined him full-time scooping ice cream.
Helen was always up for a new challenge and in 2005 enrolled in the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine and in 2007 became an ordained interfaith minister. She called this her proudest achievement and loved performing weddings, baptisms, special ceremonies and serving the spiritual and religious needs of those in hospice care. To fulfill a longtime dream, in 2009 she traveled to Calcutta, India, to volunteer at Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying Destitutes and considered it a blessing and a joy to serve those truly in need of compassion and a tender loving touch.
Helen is profoundly missed by her mother, Jeanne Twaddle; sister, Lesley Piper and her husband, Rick; husband, Stephen; daughter, Emily Orton Miller and her husband, Scott, and children, Kyle, Hannah and Lindsey; beloved niece, Allison Peters; and her many friends, including Penny Welch Nitis and Claire Sheldon.
A celebration of her life will be Saturday, May 13, 2017, 10 a.m., at Union Congregational Church, 350 Main Street, Amesbury, MA. As Helen would say, "All are welcome!"
Published on  April 27, 2017
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