Helen Dougherty Melanson, 78, passed away peacefully on May 18th, after a long period of declining health. Helen lived in Amherst, NH for 40 years before moving into assisted living with her husband, Roger. She is survived by Roger, her husband of 54 years, son Timothy, daughter Katherine Emerson, son-in-law Ryan, and two grandsons, William and Benjamin Emerson. She is also survived by her brother William J. Dougherty of New London, CT.
Helen was raised in Trenton, NJ, and graduated from Merrimack College. She taught for several years at Nashua High School followed by 40 years of teaching at Hollis-Brookline High School. Teaching Humanities was her life’s passion, second only to raising her family. Helen believed that the greatest investment a teacher could make was to help students recognize their own potential. Students remember her as a challenging teacher who cared deeply about them, nurturing both their minds and hearts. She cherished opportunities for reconnecting with former students, never forgetting a face or a story about what made each student unique.
Devoted to her family, she always put their needs ahead of her own. Helen strongly supported her husband’s entrepreneurial career and demonstrated an unconditional commitment to her children’s interests, needs, and happiness. During the summer, she enjoyed spending time with her family on their sailboat as well as swimming and playing tennis at Jasper Valley.
Always in search the next lesson, Helen earned her master’s degree at Dartmouth College and traveled to study in China and Scotland. She was a voracious reader of novels, biographies, historical events, and memoires. Her favorite Sunday morning ritual was to read the Sunday papers while sipping her morning coffee.
The birth of her two grandsons allowed Helen to retire from teaching with renewed purpose, providing most of their early childhood care, bringing Helen immeasurable joy. She also enjoyed traveling to the Boston area to work part-time for Kimball Fruit Farm’s farmers’ markets. Helen also volunteered at the Auxiliary Gift Shop at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.
Helen’s curiosity and creativity were hallmarks of her personality for her entire life. She borrowed her personal mantra from Antoine de Saint Exupery’s belief that, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Services will be private, but friends and former students of Helen’s are encouraged to send notes of remembrance of Helen to her daughter, Kate, so that she may share with her children the legacy their grandmother left to them.
Milford High School
Attn: Kate Emerson
100 West St.
Milford, NH 03055
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