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Carolyn Ruth Benton Helander, 95, of Guilford passed away peacefully at home on May 8 after a lengthy illness. Her husband, Elton Helander, predeceased her in 2004. She was the devoted mother of Joel Helander (Jackie), Holly H. Whelan (Jim), Sarah J. Cabrera (Daniel), and Forrest Helander (Lorri). She was the cherished grandmother of five grandchilden, Benjamin Whelan, Tyler Whelan, Victor Cabrera, Hope Helander Roy (AJ), and Joya Helander. Her younger brother, Edwin E. Benton, survives her, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She was also predeceased by four other siblings, Marjorie B. Spalding, Dorothy B. Perkins, H. Milton Benton, and Roger W. Benton.
Carolyn was born on Aug. 18, 1923, the daughter of Eliot H. and Mabel Norton Benton, in the Benton homestead in Sachem’s Head. She grew up geared to all the rigors and hardships of a farm because her father was proprietor of a large dairy operation known as “Sachem’s Farm.” Her family tree has deep roots dating to many of the town’s founders (1639), including the families of Benton, Eliot, Leete, and Norton.
After graduating from Guilford High School with the Class of 1941, Carolyn entered New Britain Teacher’s College (Central Connecticut State College), where she graduated with a B.S. degree in 1945. Her teaching career brought her to the Whiting Lane Elementary School in West Hartford. During that time, she met and married her husband Elton, eventually moving to Elton’s home state of Rhode Island until settling down in the Clapboard Hill neighborhood of Guilford in 1953. Here, they raised their four children.
Carolyn will be remembered as an extremely giving, caring, and loving woman. She always put others first, and was quick to help anyone at any time. Her greatest joys were raising her family and maintaining close relationships with her children, extended family, and friends. In addition to her love of piano playing, Carolyn loved poetry, song birds, the family beach, and collecting shells. She was well-known for her homemade whole-wheat oatmeal bread, natural brown hair throughout her long life, dresses and skirts every day, chicken salad sandwiches, healthy nutrition, and her beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. As a member of the First Congregational Church of Guilford for 79 years, Carolyn taught Sunday School and served as a deaconess. Until about five years ago, she met almost monthly with a close circle of high school friends who called themselves the “41’ers”.
Carolyn’s lifelong caregiving to others was certainly returned to her throughout her lengthy illness, when she was able to receive back all the unconditional love she had given to so many others.
In addition to family members, Carolyn was lovingly cared for in her home by many caregivers over the past 10-plus years, many who became like family.
A private graveside service will be held at the Alder Brook Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to a celebration of Carolyn’s life at the First Congregational Church of Guilford on Saturday, May 25, at 11 a.m. The Guilford Funeral Home, 115 Church Street, Guilford is in charge of arrangements. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church, 122 Broad St., Guilford, CT 06437 or The Connecticut Hospice, 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405. To share a memory or leave condolences, visit www.guilfordfuneralhome.com.
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