Helen Dobbs Wildman, Severance, NY, daughter of the late Samuel and Carolyn (Eversole) Dobbs. November 1, 1929—December 16, 2022.
In the middle of a Northeast snowstorm, Helen closed her eyes for the last time on this earth. It was a beautiful, strong, and powerful storm: a perfect representation of who Helen was. Words fail to adequately describe Helen or what she accomplished in her 93 years. A woman of her time, Helen was a force to be reckoned with. She was confident, blunt, and rebelled at the idea that there were things only men could do. She sailed boats to far off destinations, became a pilot, built her own airplane, flew across the country, and built a family business into a legacy. If something was broken, she learned how to fix it or hired someone and lectured them on how to fix it. Her words, “Female pilots don’t cry” was her mantra that reminded her to be a strong woman. She was tough and had high expectations of everyone around her. Those that knew her, loved, admired, and respected her for all her qualities and strove to meet her expectations. She lived a rich, full, and adventurous life and lived it how she wanted. Growing up, her children and grandchildren were hardly coddled, but shown to work hard for what they wanted in life. They were gifted by a rather abnormal upbring, traveling the world off the beaten path. Viewed as stern, and serious, we would hear little tidbits of her early life as a fun, and sometimes troublemaking, adventurous person. When we confronted her about it, a little smile would tug at the corner of her mouth.
She had a passion for environmentalism, above all else for her beloved Adirondacks and Paradox Lake. She wished to preserve our lake and community and worked hard at educating others by holding several terms in office on the Schroon Lake Association and Paradox Lake Association. She served on the Schroon Lake Arts Council to bring the arts and music to the Schroon Lake area. She was a founding member of the Severance Beach Association, helped write the bylaws, and held office for many years. Nicknamed “the Mayor of Severance”, Helen owned and operated Lake Paradox Club. She often purchased land to keep it from being logged to keep it undeveloped. Her legacy in our town lives on in the hanger she built at the airport, her years of service as an EMT on the S.L Emergency squad, and the work she did in numerous organizations and associations. The tales of her antics in town will long outlive any of us.
Helen’s enthusiasm to see the world lead her on adventures that most people will only read about. She would make friends with the most unsuspecting people on her travels and often score an invitation to a private family dinner or be treated to a tour of places only locals knew about. Zealous for knowledge, she was an avid reader and loved learning about any subject. She taught herself Spanish and learned to speak it fluently, never hesitating to stop a stranger on the street to get some practice. Helen graduated with a B.A. in Classical Archeology from Bryn Mawr University and continued to get her Masters in Anthropology from University of California Irvine while working full time at Irving and raising her children.
She is survived by her two daughters, Kelley and Kasey DeVita, grandchildren Kelly (Jess) Waleski, Anthony DeVita and great-grandchildren, Gwendolyn, and Maximus Waleski. She loved her family fiercely, deeply, and protectively. Helen faced her life and her death head on and, not surprising, fought hard and strong until her last breath. We will miss her smile, laughter, and guidance in our lives. The family requests a donation to the Schroon Lake Emergency Services instead of flowers.
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