Helen L. Long (Downton), age 102, of S. Weymouth passed away Friday, December 10, 2021. Two years ago, when Helen Downton Long turned 100, a local radio reporter asked her to what she attributed her long life. She replied, “Getting divorced and having a good stiff drink every night.”
It was a regimen that served her well.
Mrs. Long was born in 1919, when Woodrow Wilson was president and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” were the songs on everyone’s lips. It was the year of Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, when Babe Ruth left the Red Sox for the Yankees and Johnny came marching home from World War I.
She saw the rise of automobile travel, the arrival of radio, TV and cell phones and the internet, which may have been the last straw. She never quite managed to master the tool.
Mrs. Long worked in the advertising department at Stetson and Bostonian shoes, later at Urban & Associates, a marketing firm in Sharon.
She was a lifelong resident of Weymouth, where she raised three children before getting divorced from the late Francis Long in 1970. Every day, she strolled her South Weymouth neighborhood with a succession of canine companions including Misty, Ami, Kaiser and many others. Mrs. Long was a lifelong congregant of St. Francis Xavier.
She loved the musical theater and sometimes sang along with her recordings of “The King and I,” “West Side Story and “My Fair Lady.” She performed in Hingham Civic Music Theater productions of “Brigadoon,” “Funny Girl,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” and many more. She also sang with the Fine Arts Chorale, with whom she performed in Boston’s Symphony Hall and toured Europe.
She made quilts that are prized by family and friends.
She was a rabid Red Sox and Patriots fan, who loved nothing more than curling up in front of the TV to watch the local teams until her eyesight failed her,
She was able to remain home alone until her centennial with the help of her next-door-neighbor the late Janice McKinney, who often looked in on her and the late Ann Marie Laurence and Regina Laurence, who took her grocery shopping and showed up Sunday evenings with dinner-to-go from a local restaurant.
She enjoyed living alone and never wanted to leave her home, though she was prevailed upon to move to Cornerstone at Milford, an assisted living facility where she enjoyed socializing with staff and residents.
She was a survivor of the Spanish flu epidemic and died more than a century later during the Coronavirus pandemic, though she never suffered either affliction.
When he was 10, Mrs. Long told her grandson, Sam, “If they ever try to send me to a nursing home, take me out under that tree and shoot me.” She died three hours after arriving at a nursing home in Southbridge, where she died on Dec. 10.
She leaves her daughter and primary caretaker, Patricia Long of Hopedale, two sons, Richard and his wife, Gloria, of Connecticut and Thomas and his wife, Stacy, of New Hampshire, two grandchildren Laurie, and her husband, William, of Franklin; and Samuel of New Hampshire and two-great grandchildren, Emily and Jackson Irwin of Franklin.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Francis Xavier Church, 234 Pleasant Street, South Weymouth, MA at 11:00 AM on Thursday, December 16, 2021.