December 21, 1928 – February 6, 2021
On the morning of Saturday, February 6th, Helen Josephine Prendergast Hawkinson, age 92, joined her beloved husband, Robert, in Heaven.
Born in Queens, New York to parents James and Ann (Gibbons) Prendergast, Helen grew up with her sisters, Anne and Nora, and brothers, Jim and Larry, in St. Joan of Arc Parish in Jackson Heights. She attended Hunter College High School and Hunter College in Manhattan, and went on to earn her master’s degree in education from the State University of New York. She loved teaching, and especially enjoyed her time teaching the children of American servicemen and women and expatriates in Germany in the ‘50s. She took full advantage of her years there, spending weekends traveling across Europe, and accumulating countless experiences which she enjoyed recording in photos and letters to family and friends back home.
After returning home, she met and married her love, Robert (Bob) Hawkinson, in May of 1957 and settled in Manhasset, New York and later in Sea Cliff, New York. They welcomed two children, Bobby and Christine, into their lives.
The family moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1970 to open a new IHOP franchise on Thayer Street and The Spirit Shop liquor store in Fox Point. They moved to Providence’s Smith Hill neighborhood in 1972 to join the charismatic renewal faith community in re-opening St. Patrick’s Word of God Church and School. Helen’s teaching skills were called into play there both as teacher and administrator in the school, while they opened their home to countless visitors and fellow worshippers.
Their faith inspired the Hawkinsons to work tirelessly in the service of not only the St. Patrick’s and Smith Hill communities, but also Our Lady of Peace Retreat House in Narragansett, St. Mary’s Church in Bristol, St. Mary of the Bay Church in Warren, and others.
This ethos led Helen down her next career path as a child protective investigator for the State of Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families. She later opened her practice as a Mental Health Counselor in Providence and in Barrington after earning her master’s degree and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from Rhode Island College. Combined with her training as a Spiritual Director, Helen co-hosted spiritual retreats around the region. She was also a co-founder and served as President of the Rhode Island Mental Health Counselors Association (RIMHCA).
In addition to these endeavors, Helen still had the energy well into her 80s to volunteer – hosting “Mad Hatter Tea” fundraisers at the Maxwell House in Warren, organizing with other like-minded citizens to fight for peace and preserve the environment, sharing her faith with autistic children through the Diocese of Providence’s SPRED (Special Religious Education) program, and continuing to serve her faith communities in Bristol and Warren as lector and Eucharistic Minister.
Helen was an avid reader and prolific writer of letters, cards, journals and books. She loved traveling – visiting museums, galleries, churches, monuments and gardens wherever she went. She enjoyed live theater, gardening, playing Bridge, entertaining and visiting with family and friends, and engaging in challenging and inspiring conversation. Her beautiful smile, bright blue eyes, engaging laugh, and radiant spirit made the world a better place, and will be missed by so many.
Her final days were spent at Hope Health Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence, where she found peace during a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, but her family wishes her to be remembered for her life well-lived as a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, teacher, counselor, advocate, and friend.
She leaves behind – and will undoubtedly continue to watch over – her loving son, Bobby, his wife, Kathy, and stepdaughter, Kristina; devoted daughter, Christine and her son, Christopher; siblings, Anne (Mitchell) and Nora and Bill (Crandall); Larry and Carole (Prendergast); and Joy (Prendergast); as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was predeceased by her husband of 62 years, Robert (Bob); brother (James); brother-in-law (Edward Mitchell); and parents.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10am on Saturday, February 20th at St. Mary of the Bay Roman Catholic Church in Warren. Those wishing to pay respects may do so beginning at 9am in the Church Narthex. A private burial will take place at St. Mary of the Bay Cemetery, where Helen’s remains will be laid to rest alongside those of her late husband. A Celebration of Life with family and friends will be held when it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a more fitting tribute in the form of a donation to Hope Health Hulitar Hospice Center, 1085 N Main St, Providence, RI 02904 or to St. Mary of the Bay Food Pantry, 645 Main St, Warren, RI 02885.
“Service is the rent we pay for our time on earth.” (Author unknown, but many are credited!)
Hope Health Hulitar Hospice Center
1085 N. Main Street, Providence, RI 02904
St. Mary fo the Bay Food Pantry
645 Main Street, Warren, RI 02885
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Funeral Service Livestream
Saturday, February 20, 2021
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
February 21, 2021
Christine I am so sorry for th loss of your mom. I always enjoyed when she would do the readings at Mass. "May the choirs of angels come to greet her, May they speed her to Paradise. May the Lord enfold her in His Mercy, may she have eternal life." Keeping you in my prayers... Linda Hawkins
February 17, 2021
Bob and Christine;
Please accept our deepest sympathy and condolences for the loss of your mom. She always had a welcoming smile and open arms as did your dad. Will keep you all in our prayers ahead.
The Mitchell family
Jeff, Sharon, Sarah & Stephen
Hugs from Georgia.
February 16, 2021
Condolences to Helen's family. I remember her as a kind gracious woman who lived her faith. Always a kind word or smile on her face.
May she rest in Peace.
Sr. Joyce Gardella, fmm
February 15, 2021
To Christine and the family of Helen.
Helen was a good friend to me and we co-directed some retreat days together during Lent and Autumn for a number of years.
The retreat days were given at our Franciscan Missionaries Retreat House, called Bethany, on Fruit Hill Ave, N. Providence. We enjoyed
planning and spending this day with a number of good women who came. We also gave some talks together. Helen was a woman strong in faith and spirit, and had a lot of knowledge and wisdom.
February 14, 2021
Helen was a mentor and colleague to me at RI DCYF. She was what my mother would have called "a proper lady" - patient, kind, supportive; dedicated to faith, family and service to others. We who were lucky enough to have known Helen will carry the memory of our dear friend in our hearts. God Bless and Godspeed.