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Helene N. Sawicki, a retired accounting clerk and longtime resident of the city's Lakeside neighborhood, died Dec. 5 of congestive heart failure at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She was 86.

Helene Nelson, the daughter of an electrician and a schoolteacher, was born and raised in an East 32nd Street rowhouse.

After graduating from Seton High School in 1941, she worked as an accounting clerk for several Baltimore firms, including Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

In 1973, she retired from Humble Oil & Refining Co. in the 7700 block of York Road, where she had worked for a decade in the accounting department.

In 1949, she married William Sawicki, and the couple moved into a home on Fernley Road three years later. Mr. Sawicki died in 1990.

"When whites began leaving the neighborhood because African-Americans were moving in, she became very active in fair-housing issues," said a daughter, Marianne Sawicki, a former Baltimore Sun copy editor who lives in Huntingdon, Pa. "She also volunteered with National Neighbors Inc., an organization that promotes fair housing."

Mrs. Sawicki remained in her old neighborhood until moving to Roland Towers in Roland Park four years ago.

She enjoyed traveling to Great Britain, Germany and Morocco with the Renaissance Institute at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. She also liked working with ceramics.

She was a longtime communicant of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Harford Road and Chesterfield Avenue, where a memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday.

Also surviving are two sons, Thomas Nelson Sawicki of Keaau, Hawaii, and Bill Sawicki of Philadelphia; another daughter, Trisha Helene Sawicki of Tolchester; and three grandsons.

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