Helena Coombs

Helena Brooks Coombs

1918 - 2011

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Obituary of Helena Brooks Coombs

Chester resident Helena Brooks Coombs, 93, died on April 29th at the Essex Meadows Health Center. She was the wife of the late Dr. Philip H. Coombs. They had been married 65 years until his death in 2006. She was born in Manchester, Vermont on January 30th, 1918, daughter of James and Rubina Ravi Brooks. Her father was Headmaster of Burr & Burton Seminary in Manchester. Her mother sang opera and taught music. When she was 3, her father became Headmaster of Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT where they lived for several years. Following that, much of her childhood was spent in North Carolina and Georgia where her father served as the headmaster of several other schools. As a young women, she was a registered nurse at Garfield Hospital in Washington, D.C. until l941 when she married Philip Coombs, who was then a professor of economics at Williams College in Williamstown MA. After serving in the Army/Air Force in the Office of Strategic Services during World War ll, Dr. Coombs pursued his career as an economist and international educator, with the couple living and working throughout the United States and Europe. They traveled together frequently to many parts of the globe, Helen acting as adviser, companion and cultural ambassador. She accumulated a variety of friends in many countries with whom she corresponded regularly. She was a voracious reader, a passionate member of the writer’s group at Chester Village West and a student of vocabulary and grammar, who was not shy about correcting others’ choice of words or phrasing. She was a lifelong Democrat who was impassioned about politics. She was a woman of gracious and elegant demeanor, who was a mentor, role model and inspiration to those who knew her. Helen is survived by her son Peter of Essex and his wife Jane Siris, her daughter Holly Weeks of Salem, three grandchildren, Tim, Annie, Tina and her husband James and two great-grandchildren, Luna and Ayren. Services to celebrate her life will take place at Chester Village West in Chester, CT on Saturday, May 14th at 2 pm. Memorial donations may be made to The Essex Land Trust, P.O. Box 373, Essex CT 06426. Arrangements by Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.