Shrewsbury – Helen Angela (Houle) Flaherty, 82, energetic mother and grandmother, successful businesswoman, fabulous cook, stylish dresser, lover of laughter, and devout Catholic, died Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Helen was born Sept. 29, 1931 in Worcester to Joseph and Helen (Shea) Houle. She grew up with two sisters and graduated from South High School in 1949, where she excelled in academics and sports and was voted Queen of the Prom her senior year. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1953, she taught Home Economics in the Worcester Public School System.
In December 1955, she married John Arthur Flaherty. Helen and John lovingly raised eight children on Gage Lane in Shrewsbury. By example, she taught her children the values of hard work and discipline while maintaining a memorable sense of humor. She emphasized the teachings of the Church and the value of education. Her children witnessed an enduring Faith. They have fond memories of summer camping trips, playing bridge, going to Filene's Basement, and sleepless nights during a full moon.
After raising her children and upon John's retirement from the Worcester public schools, Helen surprised everyone when she became owner of Flaherty Imports in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1984. With a sense of style and an engaging personality, she grew Flaherty Imports into a thriving business, featuring fine knits from Portugal.
Flaherty Imports allowed John and Helen the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe, where they enjoyed searching for unique items, dining in cafes, and sunning in the Algarve. She and John moved back to Shrewsbury in 2006.
The highlight of the year for Helen and her 30 grandchildren was to gather at her home on the beach in Kennebunk. “Nana's House” was the center of boisterous family gatherings. She always insisted that her grandchildren get out to the beach, participate in games such as scavenger hunts and sandcastle contests or catch crabs off the jetty. She did not tolerate selfishness, bickering, or missing Mass on Sunday, which strengthened family loyalty and camaraderie amongst her children and grandchildren.
Helen spent the past six years battling Alzheimer's disease; however, her smiling blue eyes could not be dulled and she never lost her unique sense of humor. Her energy, passion, and joy for life will be missed by all who knew her.
Helen's husband John passed away in 2009. She is survived by her eight children, Peter Flaherty of Fairfax, Va., Joseph (Nancy) Flaherty of Concord, Sarah (Bill) Krouch of Hinsdale, Il., Melissa Meads of Kennebunk, Maine, Meghan (Peter) Jannotta of Newport, R.I., Timothy (Tara) Flaherty of Scottsdale, Az., Kate (Patrick) Hinton of Walpole, and Jennifer (Joseph) Schultz of Red Bank, N.J., and her 30 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters, Barbara Kerans of Dalton and Joan Alix of West Hartford, Conn, and 25 nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend visiting hours Thursday, June 19, from 4 – 7:30 p.m., at the Britton-Shrewsbury Funeral Home, 648 Main St., Shrewsbury. Her funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, June 20, at 10 a.m., at Saint Mary's Church, 640 Main St., Shrewsbury. Burial will follow in Mountain View Cemetery, Shrewsbury.
Helen was a steadfast voice for the unborn, so in lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Problem Pregnancy of Worcester, Inc., 495 Pleasant St. P.O. Box 7422, Worcester, MA 01605.