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Helen's Story

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RN, Helen ascended to her heavenly home after peacefully sleeping away from her bed at the Bethlen Home, Ligonier, on June 25, 2017. It was 101 years and 6 months since she was born in Becarria, Pa., a tiny town in the coal fields of Clearfield County by John and Anna Popyak on December 16, 1915. Her father was killed in a mining accident when she was four leaving her and three brothers to be raised by a widowed mother who supported them by working the night shift as a cleaning lady in Wilmerding. Anna lived to age 94, while brothers John, George and Tom lived well into their 80s. Helen graduated from The McKeesport Hospital, Training School of Nursing in 1937 after which she completed a two year post graduate course in Obstetric Nursing at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Helen then returned to Pittsburgh and the McKeesport Hospital. While serving as the surgical supervisor, she administered the hospital's first penicillin shot in 1941. In August 1945, she married a young Navy Officer, Lieutenant Dr. Andrew Choby after he returned from 18 months in the war zones of the Philippines and the Marinas. Andrew and Helen had 7 children, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Helene, Larry, Bill, Carolyn, and Anthony who died in 1984; 7 grandchildren, Natalee, Whitney, Haig, Lauren, Tyler, Jennifer, and Jessica. She also has 6 great-grandchildren. After raising her family, she continued her love of hospital work well into her 80s by serving as a volunteer pastoral caregiver at the hospitals in Johnstown. Andrew, her husband of 69 years, passed in May of 2014 at age 100. Helen was known as an unwavering woman of Christian faith, hope and love. In her own way, she exemplified the American dream, rising from an obscure and difficult early life to significance through her influence on the lives of thousands. Her quiet character and humble nature endeared her to everyone who knew her. She will be sorely missed and not easily forgotten. Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at the Frank Duca Funeral Home, Westmont Chapel, 1622 Menoher Blvd, Johnstown, PA. 15905. Friends and family will meet for a funeral Mass on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Our Mother of Sorrows Church, Very Rev. Mark S. Begly. Interment Grandview Cemetery, Johnstown. Condolences may be sent through www.ducafuneralhome.com.
Published on June 26, 2017
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