Helen (Pratt) Vertucci, age 99, formerly of Richfield Springs, passed away peacefully on Monday morning, Aug. 19, 2013, at Westwood Commons, North Chili.
She was born on April 21, 1914, in the town of Warren, the daughter of Herbert and Olive (Sweet) VanValkenburg. A life long resident of Richfield Springs, she was a 1932 graduate of Richfield Springs Central School. She completed and received her RN certification at Amsterdam City Hospital in 1935. In 1936, she married Herman H. Pratt of Richfield Springs, a union that lasted 31 years until his passing on Feb. 21, 1967. She later married Anthony Vertucci of Richfield Springs on May 22, 1982. He preceded her in death on Feb. 25, 2000.
Helen's nursing career began with home nursing and then private duty nursing at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. In the early 1950s, she was invited to take the vacant school nurse position by then RSCS Principal George Purple. To acquire her nurse-teacher certification, she spent several summers studying at Syracuse University and Oneonta State. In addition to school nurse duties, she also served as an Otsego County public health nurse during the summers off from school.
As a school nurse, she was instrumental in convincing the public to partake in the polio vaccination program. She and the late Dr. Wendell Bryce administered the vaccines. Helen was also at the forefront of a fluoridation controversy regarding the village water supply in the late 1950s. She retired from RSCS in 1974.
She was devoted to her community as exhibited by her participation in many clubs and organizations. She was a life member of the Warren Grange and Ganowages Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, a Cub Scout leader and supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, and a volunteer with the Red Cross during World War II.
Helen was the oldest member of Church of Christ Uniting of Richfield Springs. She was also active in the local garden club for many years, a member of the Canadarago Lake Association and the Richfield Springs Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.
Surviving her are a daughter, Beverly Strother Pratt, of Avon; one son, Kenneth Pratt and his wife, Barbara, of Spencerport; two step sons and their wives, Anthony and Jean Vertucci, of Baldwinsville, and Lawrence and Francis Vertucci, of Syracuse; two step daughters, Anne Reilly and her husband, John, of Ossining, and Mary Ellen Edwardsen, of Chittenango; five grandchildren; nine step grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; seven step great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She is also survived by special friend and caregiver, Anna Hosford.
Besides her parents and husbands, Herman and Anthony, Helen was predeceased by three sisters, Bernice Dunckel, Gladys Hamilton and Dorothy Dawson; two brothers, George and Wilber VanValkenburg; a son-in-law, William Strother; and her grandson, Gregory Strother.
Calling hours for Helen will be on Friday from 4 until 7 p.m. in J. Seaton McGrath Funeral Home, 40 W. James St., Richfield Springs. Funeral service will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Church of Christ Uniting, Richfield Springs, with the Reverend Mark Ioset, pastor, officiating. Interment will follow in Schuyler Lake Cemetery.
Page 2 of 2 - Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Church of Christ Uniting Organ Fund or the Richfield Springs Public Library. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.