Long before Helen Rockwell became a resident at St. John’s Meadows, she had built a proud life of service and accomplishment. A 1937 graduate of the University of Rochester, Helen served in the United States Navy during World War II.
“The armed forces opened up branches of service to women because of the need of so many men on the front,” said Helen’s brother, Dr. Warren Shaddock. “She was one of the first to volunteer, and being a college grad at the time, she was sent to midshipmen school where she received her commission as an ensign.”
She maintained great pride in her service well after she moved on to a career at Kodak. She embraced living further through involvement in organizations like the Women’s Council at RIT, Alumnae Council of the U of R, and the Resident Council at St. John’s Meadows.
Helen, nicknamed “Red” as a child because of her red hair, became a resident of St. John’s Meadows back in 1998, and it did not take long for her to leave her mark. In 2000, Helen pushed to formalize the Meadows library system, taking advantage of the cooperative extension program to add new books every two months.
“She was very detailed and, with the help of others, logged all of those books,” said Jean Loomis, manager of volunteer services at the Meadows. “She was an active advocate for others and was at one point on the resident council representing Chestnut Court. She also helped with all our special events that Meadows marketing did, such as open houses and celebrations.”
She made lasting impressions on so many people. One volunteer from St. John Fisher “fell in love with her,” according to Loomis, and continued to visit her until she passed away in March 2014. Mrs. Rockwell continued to give even after her passing with a generous bequest to St. John’s.
Mrs. Rockwell took full advantage of St. John’s spectrum of services.
“When her health began to fail, she moved to Hawthorne, and from there to St. John’s Home in the last part of her life. She was very happy with all St. John’s had to offer,” said Dr. Shaddock, “and that is why she included a bequest in her will.”