Friday, March 1, 2019

Obituary: Helen Marie Duffy- a Woman of Deep Faith and Joyful Presence, Thank You !

Helen Marie Duffy

MCFARLAND-Our hearts are quite a bit heavier, and Heaven quite a bit brighter, as Helen tap danced her way into Heaven on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.  We are sure she is sitting at the right hand of Her Savior, Jesus Christ, at a table set with linen napkins, lit candles and a vase of fresh flowers.  Words can’t describe how much we will miss her infectious smile, selfless love, constant support, and just simply the positive way she made us all feel.  Survived by her beloved Jack, her First Mate for 61 years. She was truly the Wind Beneath his Wings!

Helen was a proud graduate of Loyola University, where she earned her teaching degree.  She met her partner for life, Jack Duffy and embarked on a beautiful voyage, which included traveling around the country and the world as a proud Army Officer’s wife.  Helen perfected her ability to raise a houseful of children, dote on her grand and great-grandchildren, entertain with grace and style, volunteer, sing, and dance while always smiling. She had a strong faith and led by example. One of her famous lines was “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. She started every day with a song.  “Good Morning to you…” and made everyone feel incredibly special and loved. She was ahead of her time in so many ways.  Helen joined a tap-dancing group in Nokomis Florida and loved every moment when kicking up her heels.  She worked at Head Start, volunteered for many organizations and opened her heart and home to those in need.  She helped launch bible studies, book clubs, churches and was so involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Helen created so many family traditions: trips to Folklore Village, Santa Lucia Day, Camping, Natures Villa, Candles on the Christmas tree, Saint Patrick Day traditions and special Birthday meals.  She was a fixture at every child’s sporting/musical, forensic, 4H or theatre events, often busy knitting instead of watching and worrying.  Helen was famous for her incredible meals and entertaining, which included gourmet feasts on many family camping trips and stops at roadside rest stops with homemade sandwiches and a thermos of drinks.  Helen (Mrs. Duffy) won the hearts of countless neighbor kids on Hwy AB by serving the best hot chocolate after everyone came off Lake Kegonsa ice on cold winter days.  Helen never asked for much in return… except for her coffee…Jack learned early that a happy wife is a caffeinated wife.

Helen leaves behind her incredible legacy of seven children, John (Regina), Bridget (David), Matt (Sue), Kathleen (Kevin), Patrick (Leslie), Tom (Kathy) and Brian (Tommi); and her “fabulous wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who can do no wrong”, Danielle (Ben) and their children, Benjamin, Carter and Addie; Matthew and his children, Liam, Audrey and Eloise; Jared (Lindsay) and their daughter, Annabelle; Keara; Lindsay and Erin Strand; Kyle, Sarah and Coley; Molly, Abby and Samuel; Alexis and John Ryan; Hayden, Eily and Teddy; and nine Belgian Grand Draft Horses.  She is also survived by her siblings, Rita (Larry) Daniels, and John (Nancy) Quinlisk; and a number of loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Helen Quinlisk; and brother, Thomas Quinlisk. 

Helen’s last years of life were made incredibly special and peaceful as a result of the love and compassion of her loving caregivers Joan Gooden, and Maggie.  We appreciate the loving care she received from the wonderful team at Agrace HospiceCare.  She was our Sunshine.  Our only Sunshine.  She made us Happy when skies were grey.  She’ll never know dear how much we loved her… now she is our Sunshine forever and a Day!

A Celebration of Helen’s Life will be held at HOLY WISDOM MONASTERY, 4200 Cty Hwy. M, Middleton, at 1 p.m., on Saturday, March 9, 2019, with a luncheon to follow the service.  Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., on Friday, March 8, 2019, and at the church from 12 noon until the time of the service on Saturday. Memorials may be made to, Agrace HospiceCare and/or Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Dr.
(608) 221-5420

I give thanks for Helen Duffy, who was with her husband, Jack, founders of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. We will always remember Helen's joyful presence and laughter every Saturday when she welcomed everyone through our doors with Imogene Rigdon (now also dancing with the angels in heaven). 
Helen, you were a blessing of love to all of us. We know that you will continue to walk with us on the journey to the full equality of women in our Church and we are grateful for your courageous support of women priests! Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community will celebrate your life when dear Jack returns to Florida!
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

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