OBITUARY

Helen Wannamaker

June 29, 1959March 5, 2021
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Helen Wannamaker, 61, of Lakeway, Texas, a corporate and client Technical Recruiter for Insperity, and volunteer for numerous charitable causes, died Friday, March 5, 2021, at Baylor St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston’s Medical Center. Following complex major surgery that successfully removed a benign ampullary tumor, she fought unexpected complications and passed into the Lord’s comforting arms.

Helen is survived by her loving husband Jeffrey Wannamaker, her daughter Melanie Wannamaker, pet retriever Harley, her parents Joseph and Helen Gangel, brothers Dave, John, and Joseph Gangel. Helen was surrounded by a large gregarious Hungarian family with many relatives currently thriving throughout the United States and Hungary. Helen’s grandmother was special to her, recently passing away shortly after her 100th year birthday. Helen Berki was a family matriarch and focus of love in a large family of 9 siblings and their families. Here the American dream began, escaping from Hungary with children after the Russian Invasion of 1956, receiving help from the Catholic Church for safe passage to the United States. Joseph Gangel remained to fight in the rebellion against Russian occupation and was taken captive before he later escaped to the United States through Austria.

Helen’s journey began with her birth on June 29, 1959 in Joliet, Illinois and shortly thereafter was raised in Strongsville, Ohio by her mother and father amongst a large Hungarian population. Helen spoke fluent Hungarian as her first language until elementary school when she learned English. She continued the tradition, speaking fluent Hungarian with her parents and grandmother. Helen attended Strongsville High School and later studied commodities trading before finding the many skills she would use to make a profound impact on so many people at work and in her personal life. A quiet girl discovered herself, blooming into a person that knows no stranger, gives more of herself, sometimes to her own weariness. Helen and her husband Jeff raised a beautiful daughter that exceeded hopes of a parent. Melanie had both parents by her side, cheering to become a successful athlete, Biological & Chemical Engineer, and an outstanding strong adult woman. After experiencing empty nest for a few years, Jeff made good on his promise to Helen to move to Austin, Texas, where she lived in the hills of Lakeway near Lake Travis. Helen reunited with longtime friends and made many new friends in her brief 2 years. She was content in the warmth of the sun, enjoying clear lake waters, sharing food she prepared, and watching spectacular sunsets. Thankful for life!

Donations in Lieu of Flowers

We appreciate the flowers that have been sent from caring friends and family! In lieu of flowers, my mom would cherish donations to Martha’s Kitchen, a non-profit ministry that has many of St. Martha’s Catholic Church own parishioners commit time. Helen made it an effort to volunteer every week to help feed those less fortunate.

Details on how to donate Martha’s Kitchen can be found here:

Martha’s Kitchen is one of the Parish’s primary and most visible mission activities. It is dedicated to Christ’s call to love one another and to actively fulfill the basic physical and spiritual needs of those who need our help.

Martha’s Kitchen opened in 1992 when Msgr. Tinney was Pastor, with Sister Maria Elena Lopez as Director.

  • FAMILY

  • Helen is survived by her loving husband Jeffrey Wannamaker, her daughter Melanie Wannamaker, pet retriever Harley, her parents Joseph and Helen Gangel, brothers Dave, John, and Joseph Gangel. Helen was surrounded by a large gregarious Hungarian family with many relatives currently thriving throughout the United States and Hungary. Helen’s grandmother was special to her, recently passing away shortly after her 100th year birthday. Helen Berki was a family matriarch and focus of love in a large family of 9 siblings and their families.
  • DONATIONS

  • St. Martha's Catholic Church - Martha's Kitchen

Services

  • Helen Wannamaker

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

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  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

  • Reception to Follow Service

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

Memories

Helen Wannamaker

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Suzanne Browne

April 10, 2021

To my dear sweet friend Helen, I will always remember the good times we had together. Whether we were meeting up for a glass of wine or a margarita at ChaChi’s, they were always such good times. Even when you moved away to Austin, we still always found the time to get together whether it was in Austin or Houston. You were always so sweet to have Lindsey over every year during the holidays to bake sweets together. She would always bring home a platter of all the goodies you guys made. I appreciated the time so much when you and Jeff welcomed Lindsey and I into your home to stay when we came to Austin to visit UT. The last great memory I have was last August when the girls and I stayed at Lakeway and had dinner with you. You’re beautiful and fun spirit will be greatly missed but I will treasure our memories forever.

Wood Carol

April 8, 2021

Helen always had a smile and a large heart that she shared with all who knew her. Her love for her family and friends outshined the brightest stars, and her love will remain in our hearts forever. She will be missed, but never forgotten . Helen has always been a beacon of light in the rough seas, now her light shines down from the heavens for all. Love and miss you my friend.

Mary Kay Engelhardt

April 7, 2021

It is so hard not say what others have already said about Helen. She was a kind warm caring person. Helen loved so many people and truly took them to heart in her actions. Helen really reach out to you, she really asked about you and how your family were doing. Helen would take the time to host an event, bring a dish whatever was needed Helen would jump in and do it -- her actions showed all those around how much she cared. These are the things that I feel made Helen a cut above the rest. She had a true gift for recognizing the needs of others. I had the privilege of working with Helen for many years - I will deeply miss her.

Jeff and Melanie - I am truly sorry for your loss and will keep you both in my prayers.

Sincerely - Mary Kay Engelhardt

Claire Szabo Zane

March 29, 2021

Dearest Helen,
You were the type of person who brought light, love and gracious kindness into the lives of others, including into ours. Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives and for the wonderful memories. We miss you! Now you are in Heaven as one of God’s special angels.
Jeff and Melanie, we pray that God will ease your pain. Helen will continue to take good care of you from above.
Rest dear friend. You will be always loved and cherished....till we meet again....

Merve Doruk

March 29, 2021

When I first met Helen, I was a young foreign girl who hasn’t been away from home before. She has welcomed me with so much love and made me feel her home as my own and her family as my own family. She has taught me that love has no language, land or limit. She has taught me family isn’t always blood – but is love.

I always admired how vibrant of a soul she was, always full of joy and love- who lit up the room whenever she entered, who instantly filled the hearts she touched with love, who turned everything into an art (I’ll never forget her amazing decorations)
I’d love to think that she has celebrated every minute of life and I’ll forever be grateful to be a part of her celebration!

Jeff and Melanie, I'm not sure I can really express how much I love you both and how much my heart ache with yours at the sudden loss of dear Helen. Her beautiful heart and spirit will forever live with us, with every heart she has touched, from Istanbul to Houston, from Joliet to Austin...

I’ll forever love and cherish her!

Jaime Torres

March 29, 2021

Helen was the most loving and giving person on the planet! Helen was also my best friend and neighbor. We shared our ups and downs and she was a trusted confidante. Helen had a great zest for life and living and if course was a natural people magnet!!! We loved her very much and she gave the “BEST” parties. It was very difficult to see her and Jeff and Mel move away!!!! But true to her promise she stayed in touch as true friends always do!!! I think everyone who knew her was blessed to call her a friend!!! She was special and I will miss her laughter and her smile! As a believer I know I will see her again in heaven. Till then I will always carry her and the memories we shared in my heart! Love you girl. BFF Jaime

Lynn Brothers

March 23, 2021

Jeff and Melanie,

My heart goes out to you both. She loved both of you so much. And she loved the dogs as well!

Helen was not only an amazing teammate, she was one of the best friends I have ever had the pleasure of having in my life. What a blessing she was to everyone she connected with. Helen could build a relationship that made you feel so special. Helen will be deeply missed and has left behind a special place in so many hearts and fond memories for all of us to treasure.

I feel like Jeff said it best "God intervened".

Love,

Lynn Brothers and Alicia Brothers Fenoglio

Jeffery & Lorie McCollom

March 20, 2021

We sit here tonight comforting each other over the loss of a dear friend, Helen. Each day does not make the pain easier. We grieve for Jeff and Mel’s loss of one of the most incredible women to inhabit the earth but also for our loss of a great friend. Our path with Helen seems to be a story that most have experienced. As the “new people” Helen brought us into her world. For almost twenty years, we experienced the power of Helen and our worlds were filled with laughter. We dearly miss our friend and will never forget the influence and example Helen set for us.

Piroska ( Berki ) Christopher

March 19, 2021

Jeff, Melanie and my sister Helen and Joe, and her brothers,our families deepest and sincere condolences goes out to all of you and our extended families. The passing of our sweet “Icu” ( which is what we all called her in Hungarian) was a huge unexpected shock to the entire family, it completely devastated us. She had such a fierce , loving and adoring appetite for life that it just exuded from her, it was incredibly radiant . She was special, and she was on a mission to make sure that everyone around her was taken care of before she would consider herself. We grew up together, made endless memories, we explored Canada together on our summer vacations along with her brothers, my nephews and had the most fun you can imagine. We both grew up and went on with our lives which sent us separate ways. We had our own family, but no matter where we were, I always heard about her through my mom ( her grandma). She’d send me pictures of Helen and baby Melanie and I was so happy for her. She had built her life on love, joy and never ending selflessness. I saw the way she loved my mom and how she cared for her, it made me so happy, it made my mom happy. She had an incredibly loving husband and family, and I think that her inner light came from all the people that loved her too. She was and always will be my awesome fun loving , caring, beautiful niece. She is a Legacy to our family and an example of pure love. Sending love and prayers of peace to Jeff, Melanie, Helen and Joe Gangel and her brothers and to the Wannamakers and all our families near and far. Rest In Peace Sweet Helen.

Kimberly Lindquist

March 18, 2021

My beautiful cousin Helen was our light and the most loving and caring and hard working person ever and did not know when to stop helping and caring for others. She was a force of human kindness and love. Jeff’s mom named her Hurricane Helen and that was my loving and joking nickname for her! My family’s hearts and prayers go to Melanie and Jeff because they adored her and Helen lived and adored them they were her love and life!, I will be selfish and say it is not fair that God took her too soon because her and I still had more fun and more life to live!,, But our Lord only takes the best to help and he knew that Helen is the best at everything and has the best heart and soul there is, I will miss and love her forever!

I will miss and love you forever cuz,

Love Kimmy (St. George) Lindquist
Kirk, Corrie, Erik too

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