Cover photo for Helen Regina Phelan Howe's Obituary
Helen Regina Phelan Howe Profile Photo
1930 Helen 2021

Helen Regina Phelan Howe

September 28, 1930 — August 11, 2021

Defreestville- Helen Regina Phelan Howe died peacefully on August 11, 2021 surrounded by her family after a courageous battle with cancer. She lived 90 full years starting her life in Albany on September 28, 1930. She was the beloved wife of Edward M. Howe for 61 years. Helen was the middle child of seven children born to the late Thomas W. Phelan M.D. and Helen Rausch Phelan. Raised in Rensselaer, NY she attended St. John’s Academy through Grade 8, earned her High School diploma from the Academy of the Holy Names in 1948, her B.A. from the College of New Rochelle in 1952, and her Ms.Ed. from Russell Sage College. She taught elementary education for the Albany School district for 25 years where she made a positive impact on the lives of countless children, and she made many lifelong friends. She also worked as a Tax Preparer for H&R Block from 1987 through 2020. She continued to work on tax forms for family and friends until quite recently. Helen married Ed in 1955, settled first in Rensselaer and then in North Greenbush, NY, where they raised their three children – Eileen, Mark, and Peter. She was a lifelong communicant of St. John’s St. Joseph’s parish in Rensselaer, and her Catholic faith provided a strong foundation of support for Helen and her family. Faith, family, and hard work were her mainstays, and she remained committed to these principles throughout her full life. She embraced each of her roles – student, wife, mother, teacher, tax preparer, docent, and family member with purpose, drive, intellect, and determination, impacting many lives and bringing much joy and influence. She constantly set the example for doing things the right way. She never really retired and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to. She strongly believed in the need to work hard – whether at her jobs, cleaning the house, taking care of the yard, or doing volunteer work. She didn’t have much down time since she’d typically spend it by ironing or doing needlepoint. However, there’s also nothing she enjoyed more than spending time on the beach in the sun with her family or around the table at a family meal that she either prepared or was constantly asking “what can I do to help?” An avid reader and history buff, she was especially proud of being a docent with the Albany Institute of History and Art, and she also volunteered at the North Greenbush Public Library and her church. She was proud of her education and remained intellectually curious throughout her life, doing crossword puzzles, attending historical webinars, and taking bus trips to museums throughout the Northeast. She is survived by her beloved children, Eileen Bird (Rick) of Delmar, Mark Howe (Ann) of East Greenbush and Peter Howe (Kami) of Boston; her grandchildren – Ethan, Megan, Braden, Myles, and Simon; her sister Mary Rose Chapman of Waco, TX; her brother John Phelan (Marilyn) of Loudonville, NY; her sister-in-law Gayle Phelan of Tampa; and many beloved nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband Edward Howe, she was predeceased by her siblings, Fr. Thomas Phelan of Troy, William Phelan M.D. of Chicago, Margaret Mary Gavin of North Greenbush, and Col. Frank Phelan of Tampa. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, August 17 at 9:30 am at St. Mary’s Church, 163 Columbia Tpke, Rensselaer, NY. Relatives and friends may call at the W.J. Lyons Jr. Funeral Home, 1700 Washington Ave., Rensselaer on Monday, August 16 from 4-7 pm. The family requests that masks be worn indoors at the funeral home and the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Albany Institute of History & Art or To Life! Helen’s family extends its deepest gratitude to the many caregivers and friends who supported her through her illness, including Barbara, Maria, Kathleen, and Jeannie, as well as the Community Hospice. For all of you who called, sent cards, chocolate, or otherwise supported her during this time, please know that you brought joy to her days, and our family will be forever grateful. She cherished the lunches with her school teacher friends (and calls from Charlotte), the times with her church group and school-mate friends, and her card group – friends who have gathered monthly for nearly 60 years! She had a life fully lived, and in her words, “Family and Friends mean everything!”

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, August 16, 2021

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

W.J. Lyons Jr. Funeral Home, Inc.

1700 Washington Avenue, Rensselaer, NY 12144

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Starts at 9:30 am (Eastern time)

Church of St. Mary at Clinton Height

163 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer, NY 12144

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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