BAR HARBOR — Helmi Valentina Paakki Perry, 83, died peacefully on Nov. 1, 2009 with her family by her side. Helmi was born in Maynard, Mass. on Valentine’s Day, the only child of Waino and Stiina Paakki.
Born in a Finnish community of Finnish parents, she spoke and wrote Finnish until learning English in the first grade. The family moved to Pittsfield, Maine, when Helmi was in high school, and she flourished at MCI, where she was inducted into the National Honor Society, was class secretary, won the Manson Speaking Prize, was a cheerleader and made many lifelong friends. Later in life she became the MCI class agent for her class of 1948.
She fell in love with a handsome sergeant in the Air Force, Frank Perry, on a blind date, and she took him horseback riding – he liked the woman but not the horse.
Helmi was a bookkeeper and always worked hard to give her family everything she could. Her first priority was her family: she skied with them; went to all the athletic games and numerous camping trips; and she supported them in every way. Helmi was a self-taught speed reader and even censored books for the town library – there was always a book at her side. If she wasn’t reading, she was playing golf – she spent many summers playing golf with her buddies. She moved with her family to Dexter, Maine in 1970, where summer life was full of swimming and barbecues by the pool, and all those card games. After serving as vice president of the Dexter Credit Union, Helmi took over the reins as president when Frank retired, and she ran it for a year until they retired together.
She and Frank spent their retirement years in Florida golfing and spending time with their friends. She always had her trusty pet Casey by her side, and Casey brought her much happiness.
Helmi is survived by her loving husband of 60 years and their three children, Karen Perry and her partner Stephen Keiser, Frank Perry and Mark Perry; their four grandchildren, Amanda Stitham and her husband Erich, Morgan Perry, Alex Perry and Erin Perry; her three great-grandchildren, Joshua Perry, Julia and Nicholas Stitham.
The family would like to thank the staff of Birch Bay Village for all their compassion and care of their beloved Mother.
There will be a celebration of Helmi’s life at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Helmi Perry Scholarship Fund at the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 233, Dexter ME 04930. Arrangements are by Jordan-Fernald, 48 Eden St., Bar Harbor.
Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com