Helen Catherine Elizabeth Carter Hagopian passed away peacefully at her home on March 10, 2023, at the age of 100. Her home in Petaluma, where she lived for over 50 years, was next door to the house she was born and raised in.
In her younger days, she attended St. Vincent’s Elementary School and Petaluma High School. She worked hard and excelled in school, and enjoyed spending summers at the family cabin on the Russian River in Healdsburg. After graduating high school in 1940, she attended nursing school at Ben Franklin Hospital in San Francisco; living and working at the hospital gave her excellent nurse’s training. Upon graduation in 1943, she returned to Petaluma and worked for Dr. Jim Anderson, the very doctor who had delivered her 21 years earlier! After working for 15 years with Dr. Jim, she paused to raise her two children. When they entered high school, she resumed her nursing career working with Dr. Russell Jackson and then Dr. Paul Umino, finally retiring at age 78. Helen was loved by her patients due to her caring nature and great nursing skills. She worked a total of 42 years. A great many Petalumans were patients or former patients of hers.
Helen was married to her first husband, Ken Helton, from 1943 to 1954. Following this, she met the love of her life, Arthur Hagopian, at Petaluma’s Arthur Murray dance studio and they were married in May of 1956, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2006. Their loving relationship was based upon mutual respect and warm comradery. In September 1958, they welcomed their twins, Bill and Patty. Continuing the traditions from Helen’s youth, the couple took their children, and later their grandchildren, on vacations to the family cabin at Anderson Springs in Lake County.
Affectionately known by her grandchildren as “Mimi”, Helen always had a cheerful disposition, undefeatable optimism, and a warm smile for everyone she met. She enjoyed developing friendships, sharing stories and helping people. Throughout her adult life, Helen’s passion for assisting people also led her to volunteer for many organizations, including three school PTAs, the Easter Seal Society, the People’s Services Center, the CommonHealth Club, the Boy Scouts, the Camp?re Girls and more. She was also involved in many social clubs. In 1915, Helen’s mother, Florence, was a founding member of Petaluma’s very own Pedro Club and Helen, who also enjoyed playing cards, followed in her mother’s footsteps, joining the Pedro Club and being a member most of her adult life. She is remembered as an avid reader of mystery novels, a winning card shark, a great storyteller, a passionate gardener, a delicious baker, a friendly neighbor, a kind grandmother, a caring mother and an amazing nurse.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband Arthur Hagopian, her parents William Carter and Florence Murphy Carter; her siblings William Allen Carter, Jr. (Jeanne) and Beverly Carter Davis (Weldon). She is survived by her devoted children Bill (Karen) and Patricia (Dave); her adored grandchildren Michelle (Zack), Daniel, Luc, and Sage, one great-grandchild Owen, and several nieces and nephews; all of whom will miss her dearly.
A special acknowledgment of gratitude goes to her many caring neighbors, all her healthcare providers and caregivers, including those at Petaluma Valley Hospital and Hospice of Petaluma. Donations in Helen’s name may be made to Hospice of Petaluma or the charity of your choice.
A Memorial Service will be held on May 14, 2023 at 1 pm at the Petaluma Woman’s Club, 518 “B” Street, Petaluma, CA 94952.
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