Helen A Forsgard
August 17, 1926 – November 23, 2019
You’re reading this, so Helen Forsgard might have encouraged you to pause in wonder at the process of interpreting sensory information transformed into language and thought, then revel in the promise of limitless discovery and expression you’re engaged in. As the eldest daughter amongst ten siblings, loving wife, mother of nine children, grandmother, great grandmother, teacher, professor, mentor, friend, teammate and neighbor, Mrs. Helen A. Forsgard of Scituate, Massachusetts found that sparking potential through education was her life’s work and one of her many passions nurtured throughout her 93 years of adventure.
Born in Pennsylvania to parents Carl Joseph and Helen (McBride) Annas, Helen’s love of family, the outdoors, scholastics, sports and the dramatic arts yielded unbridled and contagious enthusiasm. An honors student and graduate of Norristown High School in 1944, she received a scholarship to West Chester University where she earned a double-major Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Secondary Education and History, including course work in Reading Education at Temple University.
During a teaching break summer job, then-waitress Helen met and fell in love with then-dishwasher and U. of Penn graduate student in chemistry, Fred Forsgard. They were married in 1949 and raised nine children while enjoying a life rich with family, work, faith, civic and cultural engagement, challenge, luck and joy.
Helen earned her Master’s Degree in Reading Education at Bridgewater State University. She went on to earn a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Education at Boston University, where she was Co-Director of the Boston University-Chelsea Schools Intergenerational Literacy Program.
Her teaching positions over the years included Secondary Education at Abington (PA) Jr. High School, English at Pittsfield (MA) and Taconic High Schools, Elementary at Resurrection Catholic School, Sunnyvale (CA), Reading at Scituate (MA) Jr. High School, Reading Education at Massasoit Community College, Graduate Course Instruction at Suffolk University, and Lecturer in Master’s of Education and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study Programs at Bridgewater State University.
Support of her fellow teachers motivated active membership in professional organizations such as The Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, National Education Association, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International where she was an officer and recipient of the 1990 Scholarship Award, and The Massachusetts Reading Association where she served as President and Director of Membership, was on the Honor Council, and was a President’s Cup winner. In 1984, Helen was honored as Plymouth County Education Association Citation Award’s Outstanding Teacher of The Year.
Perhaps unmatched in all of her years of teaching experience in the classroom, lecture hall or while tutoring was the satisfaction of witnessing the development of each individual’s growing ability to read, learn, explore, imagine, create, and live fully and generously.
Energized by civic participation, Helen dove in, becoming President of the East Brunswick, NJ Women’s Republican Club. After the family moved to New York, she joined the Broome County Republican Women’s Club and also worked for the League of Women Voters. She was an American Red Cross volunteer and blood donor. She could be seen manning the phones for a WGBH Public Television Fund Drive or riding a donkey on a basketball court for a good cause. She also taught CCD in her St. Mary’s Parish in Scituate.
For sixteen years of school-day afternoons, Mrs. Forsgard directed from the wings as Scituate Jr. High Drama Coach, an extension of her love of the theater. In 1984, she directed the award-winning play “The Valiant” that made it to the semi-finals of the Boston Globe Drama Festival. College Summer Stock in Philadelphia and The Stockbridge Players in the late 60’s, qualified her to goad on fellow hams in the Scituate Jr. High Faculty Variety Show. Seeing Broadway first runs in Boston and A.R.T. productions at Loeb Theater were regular dates for Helen and husband Fred, who also shared a love of music, regularly visiting Tanglewood and Symphony Hall. Helen had been president of the Binghamton NY Friends of The Symphony, conducted by Fritz Wallenberg, notably bringing their first Children’s Pops Concert featuring Captain Kangaroo to Broome County.
Blessed with an abundance of go, Helen excelled at sports, competing in swimming, diving, field hockey and archery in High School and College, Lamaze and child-chasing in intervening years. Then, in her later years, the sport she was made for — even surpassing Scrabble — golf. Wins in both Scituate Country Club Women’s Invitational and St. Mary’s Annual Golf Tournament in which she competed with three of her sons for the men’s trophy were some of life’s little cherries on top; she loved the shared time on the links.
In fact, there wasn’t much that couldn’t be made into a sport with dear friends or in the welcome solitude of nature. Keenly interested in gardening, Helen could often be found weeding favorite spots, such as around Thomas Lawson’s elephant statues on the Scituate Commons, foraging wild beach plums in a location that shall remain unmentioned, or unlocking the secret to the ultimate Scituate tomato with John and Judy. Member and President of the Pittsfield Springside House Greenhouse Group in 1969, her enjoyment of plant propagation became more of a community event as she organized festivals around the seasonal bounties.
Is Bridge a sport? Her anticipated matches with her cherished group are what sport is about at its best: camaraderie, challenge, and great fun. That spirit was brought to Helen’s ageless curiosity and love of adventure, the countless family road trip expeditions to national and state parks, historic sites, beaches, zoos, theaters and museums, and all things and places of interest from Antarctica to Venice to Building 19.
Helen thoroughly enjoyed and loved her growing family, friends, students, colleagues, community, and, as with a great read, she didn’t want to say goodbye quite so soon.
Helen is survived by nine children: Karen (Joseph O’Flanagan), Kristine (Stephen Mitchell), Karl (Mary), Lisa (Christopher Kibbe), Eric (Jane), Gretchen (Thomas Worthington), Frederick (Rosemary), Charles (Susan), and James (Christine). She is also survived by twelve grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Her husband of 49 years, Dr. Frederick Charles Forsgard, died in 1997. Helen is also survived by her Annas siblings Dorothy, Patricia, James, Frederick, Judith, and Eleanor. Her siblings Carl, Renée and Brian predeceased her.
A wake will take place on Friday, November 29, 2019, from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at Richardson-Gaffey Funeral Home, 382 First Parish Road, Scituate, MA. There will be a Memorial Mass on Saturday, November 30, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Mary of The Nativity, 1 Kent Street, Scituate Harbor, MA, to be followed by a reception.
Donations can be made to The Scituate Library Foundation, 85 Branch Street, Scituate, MA 02066 or online at scituatelibraryfoundation.org
- Visitation Friday, November 29, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, November 30, 2019
Helen A Forsgard
Mary E Eppich
November 29, 2019
Dear Forsgard Family,
I had the pleasure of knowing your mother through Alpha Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was a kind, warm woman who put her utmost energy into what she believed in. I am so impressed reading about her body of work. May she rest in peace, she certainly deserves it.
Mary E. Eppich
Alpha Zeta Chapter
November 24, 2019
Helen was more than a force of nature. There were more hours in her day than in the day allotted to the rest of us. She was always on the go. Her students adored her as did her colleagues. She was always sharing. And caring. I met most of her family in the classroom from Karl to James (Jimmy as was). You were each blessed with an extraordinary woman as your mother.