Helen Jane Wettach
June 15, 1928 – January 15, 2016
NOTE: DUE TO WEATHER, HELEN JANE’S SERVICE WILL NOW BE HELD 1:00 pm FRIDAY, JANUARY 29 AT ST. THOMAS MORE CHURCH.
CHAPEL HILL: Helen Jane Wettach, 87, a lifelong resident of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, died peacefully at her home on January 15. She is already greatly missed.
The daughter of UNC Law School Dean Robert Wettach and Alpha Burkhart Wettach, Helen Jane grew up in and around the campus of the University of North Carolina. After graduating from Chapel Hill High School, she went to Connecticut College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in history in 1949. After college, she returned to Chapel Hill and began working for UNC, where she stayed until her retirement. She worked at the School of Medicine, in the Physics Department, in the School of Arts and Sciences, and finished her career in the President’s office at UNC General Administration.
Helen Jane was keenly intelligent, an avid reader, and a history buff. She was well known for being able to recite all the kings and queens of England, in order. She was active in many local activities and organizations. Singing was a special joy; she sang for many years with the Durham Choral Society, a group of Madrigal singers, and in the choir at St. Thomas More Church, where she was a charter member. She volunteered at the polls on election days, was active in the Chapel Hill Preservation Society, and participated in the Friday Morning Music Study Club. She was on the founding Board of Directors of the Carol Woods Retirement Community. She was a patron of the symphony, the Carolina Ballet, the Playmakers Repertory Company and many other local arts events.
Never married, Helen Jane’s life was filled with many friends and extended family members. Generous, kind, and an engaging conversationalist, Helen Jane was always well-informed on current events and never missed voting. She nurtured friendships over many decades with people from all points in her life. She loved to travel, and visited countries around the world. Very memorable to her were the seven summers she spent in France, where she became fluent in French. She also had a special place in her heart for a family cottage on the shore of Lake Erie in Vermilion, Ohio. Helen Jane took great interest in her nieces and nephews and also their children and grandchildren.
After a stroke in 2004, Helen Jane lost her mobility and was unable to keep up her active lifestyle. Nevertheless, she remained connected to friends and family and continued with many of her avocations. During those years, she developed a deep bond with her loving caregiver, Kadiatou Diallo. Helen Jane was deeply grateful for the tender care provided by Kadi that allowed her to remain in her home until her death.
Helen Jane perfectly embodied the words of a Robert Louis Stevenson prayer that she frequently recited at family gatherings, asking for help to be “constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.”
In addition to her parents, Helen Jane was predeceased by her brother, Robert H. Wettach, Jr. She is survived by her brother, John T. Wettach of Orlando, FL, her sister-in-law, Patricia Wettach of Westport, CT.; nieces Jane Wettach and husband, Paul Baldasare, and Mary Ann Roehm and husband, Edward; nephews Robert Wettach and wife Gayle, John Wettach and wife Amy, and Jay Wettach and wife, Meg; great-nieces and nephews Rebecca Harris, Anne Roehm, Gabriel Baldasare, Leah Baldasare, Brian Wettach, Robert Wettach, Callan Wettach, Catie Wettach, Maddie Wettach, and John Wettach; and great-great niece and nephew, Lyla Harris and Charlie Harris.
A funeral Mass will be offered 10:00 Saturday, January 23 from St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill, with a reception following. Private burial will be in Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Robert H. Wettach Book Fund at the University of North Carolina School of Law or the Durham Choral Society. Arrangements are with Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. On-line memorials: hallwynne.com