Our beloved mother, Helen Szokan, passed away peacefully on January 9, 2021, at the age of 96. Her long life — shaped early on by the Great Depression and World War II — was marked by close family ties and loving and thrifty homemaking.
Helen was married for 64 years to Alex Szokan, and together they raised three daughters in the home they built in Bedford. She kept a spotless house; she knitted beautifully, often for her family members. When her mother, Mary Jafko, could no longer live alone, she and Alex welcomed her into their home. She lived with the couple for 25 years, while they also took an active role in the lives of their grandchildren.
Raised in a Cleveland neighborhood of Eastern European immigrants, Helen knew only a few words of English until she started school. But she quickly adapted, graduated near the top of her class, and won a scholarship to study business at night school. Before and after raising her family, she held several bookkeeping jobs.
Helen enjoyed traveling with her family and visited most of the continental states, as well as the Bahamas, Mexico, and Canada. She enjoyed word puzzles, and “Jeopardy” and other real-life entertainments. She would never have called herself adventurous, but she was a good sport -- such as when she joined Alex in a hot-air balloon ride to celebrate his retirement.
She was a devoted parishioner in two Byzantine Catholic churches -- St. Joseph’s in Cleveland and, later, St. Eugene’s in Bedford.
A year after Alex’s death in 2011, she moved from their home of 60 years to Summit Point in Macedonia, and later to Maplewood in Twinsburg.
Helen is survived by daughters Kathleen Aynes (Richard) of Hudson, Nancy Szokan (Richard Nichols) of Narberth, Pa., and Doreen Mittinger (Eugene, deceased) of Richmond Heights; grandchildren Jennifer Aynes Wright (Thomas), Jeffrey Aynes (Shannon), Amy Mittinger, and Christopher Mittinger; and great-granddaughter Natalie Wright; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and step-grandsons and their families.
Helen was predeceased by her husband Alex; parents, Peter and Mary Lipka Jafko; sisters Patricia Petrich and Mary Bacik; sister-in-law Marlene Szokan; and brothers-in-law Gabriel Szokan and John Bacik.
The family wishes to thank Maplewood Senior Living for their kind care, especially in her last days. Due to circumstances, family and friends will be unable to gather. Helen will be laid to rest at All Saints Cemetery in a private ceremony.
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