In Memory of




Obituary for Viola Helen Lapenskie


Viola Helen Lapenskie passed away peacefully on February 1, 2023, at Hogarth Riverview Manor, where she had resided since the summer of 2018.

Helen was born in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) on July 4, 1929, and grew up in Longlac with her family. She began her career in the Post Office in Longlac, moving to Geraldton and then to Nipigon, where Helen ultimately became the Post Mistress. She had a long, fulfilling career and enjoyed seeing people as they got their mail.

Helen and her mother took in boarders over the years, some being teachers, as the school was close by. A couple of those teachers were from England and Wales; they kept in touch for many years when they moved back home, and Helen made trips to visit them. Another boarder was John Duchesne... who didn't leave! They remained a couple until John's untimely death in 1984. In later years, when Helen lived close to Immanuel Lutheran Church, she hosted various vacancy and visiting ministers. Helen loved visitors; family and friends were always welcome, and of course no one left her home without signing her guest book. This continued when she moved to Chartwell Hilldale and at Hogarth Riverview Manor, and whether you were a guest or staff, you had to sign the book.

Another love of Helen's was cats, and she shared her home for many years with Sophie and Baby.

Helen enjoyed baking and especially making cookies, which she did for many years, earning the nickname of "cookie lady." Friends and family would receive a container of cookies every Christmas.

She liked to travel and was eager to go, as long as there was someone to go with. Helen visited many places - some, many times - including Arizona, Finland, England, and B.C.

She embraced Nipigon and everything that the community offered her. She loved shopping both in Nipigon and Thunder Bay and had her special shopping days which usually included lunch ...often at the Hoito when in Thunder Bay. She was a faithful member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, serving the church in many capacities, including financial secretary, over the years. She was also known as the "coffee lady," being in charge of making coffee for various church functions.

Helen will be lovingly remembered by her sister-in-law, Aune Pontynen; niece, Linda Godeski; nephew, Raymond Pontynen (Donna); great nephew, Jason Pontynen (great-great nephew, Bennett); and great nephew, Jeremy Pontynen (Miranda); great niece Laura Godeski (Ryan Donohue); great nephew Michael Godeski (great-great niece Casey). Also survived by special cousins John and Jackie Pajunen, Viola Kelly, Sal Laba; other relatives here and in Finland; and Sharon Fournier, who was like a daughter to Helen.

Helen was predeceased by her parents Emil and Ida Pontynen, brothers Arvi, Allan and Eero, companion John Duchesne and nephew-in-law Mike Godeski.

The family would like to thank the staff of Hogarth, especially 4 North, Iris, for their caring and compassionate care of Helen.

If friends so desire, donations to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Nipigon would be greatly appreciated.

A memorial service will be held in Nipigon in late spring for friends and family.

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