In Memoriam

Sister Helen Therese Mayer, OP


The melting pot that was Detroit in the early decades of the 20th Century may have no better examples than Helen Simon and Matthew Mayer. Helen was born in Hattingen, Germany, in 1907, and came with her family to Detroit in the 1920s. Matthew was born in Milltown, New Jersey, in 1908 to Yugoslavian parents who returned to their homeland shortly after his birth, but then emigrated once more to the U.S. after World War I. After living first in Washington State and then in California, the family came to Detroit because there was work there.

Helen and Matthew, a sheet metal worker who eventually owned his own business, met at a dance and married in July 1930. Five years later, on July 17, 1935 – Helen’s birthday – the couple welcomed a daughter, Eleanor Therese. Their son, Matthew, followed two years later.

With the help of friends, the Mayers weathered the Depression, and when Eleanor was four years old the little family was able to move into a home that her father built on Somerset Avenue on Detroit’s east side. Eleanor went to kindergarten at Arthur Elementary School. Since she spoke mostly German at home, school was a tearful experience for several weeks until she got more comfortable with English. But she loved school, and that love for learning continued throughout her early life.

Read more about Sister Helen Therese (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

Sister's Prayer Card (PDF)

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Avatar  Jennifer Griffin (Chesney) Schaeffer 11 months agoReply

Helen was a part of our Griffin family. Where there was Joyce (Sister Joyce Banks <1931 - 2016>) there was Helen, from my earliest memories. I am Joyce’s niece, the youngest daughter of her sister, Jean Banks Griffin. From Helen I learned to not be afraid to speak honestly and truthfully. Helen had a dazzling smile; she would state an eye-popping truth with clarity and then punctuate it with her amazing smile and humour. Which always got a big laugh from Joyce, that then set everybody laughing. Helen was the instigator of joy! I love you, Sister Helen. Thank you for being Auntie to all of us! ❤️

Avatar  Peggy Hoban Chinoski 12 months agoReply

My deepest condolences to your community and the family of Sr. Helen Therese. My mom grew up with her and was her roommate for her year at Marygrove before she entered the convent. She spoke of her fondly and loved seeing her shortly before mom died. God bless all who mourn.

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