Helen Caton is being remembered for her giving nature.
“She liked helping people; she liked mothering people,” said her husband, Robert Caton. “She was a loving, caring person. She had an impact on the lives of everyone she met.”
Helen Caton died Friday at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown after a series of strokes. She was 61.
The former Helen Nicola was a native of Burgettstown, Washington County. When she moved to Meyersdale after her marriage 34 years ago, she questioned what she was doing living in a small town, her son, Matt, said. She first worked at the Gallatin Bank and volunteered with Goodwill. When Tableland Services opened an office in Meyersdale, she became a caseworker for the agency. She then said she knew why she was in a small town: to help people in need.
“When she worked at the bank, retired people went to her for help in writing checks and things,” Matt Caton said. “She was always an ear to pull on, a shoulder to cry on. She would buy what people needed. She was a lobbyist for working people. She said it was OK to tell people she came from a Hunkie background — her grandparents were from Poland — because it was in her background to feed people. You never left her presence hungry or dissatisfied.”
Janet Will worked with Helen Caton at Tableland for 22 years.
“She was generous to a fault,” Will said. “She would do anything for anybody. She will be greatly missed.”
Meyersdale Borough Council President Martha Curran has been friends with Helen Caton since Curran and her husband, Bill, moved to Meyersdale 12 years ago.
“She did whatever she could for whoever needed help and it didn’t matter about class status,” Curran said. “She really cared about the people she worked with. She accepted me and accepted everyone else. She was very good to me and my family. When you went to her house she gave you whatever she had there to eat or she made something for you.”
Matt Caton remembers his mother buying class rings for high school students whose parents couldn’t afford them. He has been looking through family photo albums since his mother’s death. To his surprise, about three-fourths of them are of children who aren’t related to them but who were helped by his mother. No one can remember who gave her the nickname “Mother of Meyersdale.” But her family was the top priority in her life.