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Helen Louise Cantlay
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Obituary for Helen Louise Cantlay

Flemington's well-known volunteer Helen Louise Cantlay departed this life on July 6, 2018, at the age of 94. She was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the daughter of Albert Aubourn Gibson and Louise Scherf Wurst. She attended Battin High School in Elizabeth, after which she immediately entered the working world as a secretary at nearby Standard Oil of New Jersey, also known as Esso, and later Exxon. It was there she began to develop her remarkable organizational and multi-tasking abilities.

She married Peter Cantlay in 1948, and they soon had three children who they raised in Somerville, NJ. After over a decade of child rearing, Helen brought her administrative talents back to the work force. At RCA, she became known as "The Candy Lady" because she made holiday and special occasion chocolates which she sold to co-workers, always donating the proceeds to worthy causes.

Helen did not slow down in retirement. She and Pete moved to Flemington in 1992, and quickly went to work as full-time volunteers. She lived by the motto "You get back twice as much as you give." Over the years she volunteered for Flemington Food Pantry, Hunterdon Hospice, American Cancer Society, Hunterdon Land Trust Association, Meals on Wheels, and with Pete, for Flemington Rotary at fund-raising events. Although not a member of Flemington Rotary, they recognized her as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1998. She also supported and volunteered for her church, United Reformed Church of Somerville, and the youth shelters Visions and Pathways in Bridgewater and Binnacle House in Flemington. Helen remembered her mother giving "hobos" a sandwich and a cup of coffee when they knocked on the back door of their house in Elizabeth during the Depression, and so her involvement with Flemington Food Pantry was especially important to her.

Helen was also very involved in Flemington Woman's Club, where she spent hours maintaining the gardens, Newcomers Club (25 years), and Community Garden Club of Hunterdon County. At all these clubs she met many women whose friendship she cherished. She loved to play cards, usually Hand and Foot, and more recently, Sevens from Hell. Many a friend received a much sought after invitation to join her Friday afternoon card parties, which always included a "refreshment" break of a home-baked treat.

She spearheaded, solicited contributions and recruited help for yard and garage sale fundraisers for the benefit of many of her organizations. They were called by many "the most well organized sales I have ever attended".

Helen kept physically active in her retirement years. She was often seen walking in Flemington, and was one of the first members of HealthQuest, where she participated in the water aerobics classes until age 90. She was locally famous for meticulously maintaining the gardens of her pretty little house in the bend of the road near the Courthouse.

Helen loved holidays and surprises. She was known to arrive unannounced at her daughter Bonnie's house in California dressed in an Easter Bunny Costume to delight her three-year-old granddaughter.

Helen's family was very important to her, and she adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Peter, her parents, four siblings, and her son-in-law Audley A. Ciamporcero, Jr. She is survived by her sister Vivian Alte, her daughters Barbara Ciamporcero and Bonnie Mercadante (husband Michael), and son Robert Cantlay (wife Lisbeth Warren), her grandchildren Julie Ciamporcero Avetta, Heather Steinmetz, Sarah Mercadante and Rachel Cantlay, and her great-grandchildren Natalie and Genevieve Martin and Oliver and Claire Steinmetz, and several nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 21, 2018, followed by a Memorial Service at 10:30 a.m. at Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home, 147 Main Street, Flemington, NJ.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to United Reformed Church Organ and Choir Programs, 100 West Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876.

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Previous Events





9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home

147 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822





10:30 AM
Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home

147 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822

Memorial Contribution

United Reformed Church Organ and Choir Programs

100 West Main Street
Somerville, NJ 08876

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