Obituary: Helen Jackson Simon, 1956-2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Helen Jackson Simon, 1956-2021

Children were the highlight of journalist and world traveler's life

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Helen Jackson Simon - COURTESY
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  • Helen Jackson Simon
Helen Jackson Simon, 65, daughter, sister, aunt, partner, loving mom and career journalist, died on December 31, 2021. She was predeceased by one sister, Alice, and one brother, Lee, and their families. She is survived by her partner, Bill, of Florida; two children, Alex and Hannah; and five siblings and their families: Jane of Vermont, Jane of New York, and Bob, Tina and Walter of Colorado.

She always said her two children were the highlight of her life. Her son is autistic and developmentally disabled, and she was a strong advocate for him and for people with disabilities. Her daughter inherited her love of travel and has lived abroad in Australia and England. Helen’s loss is sadly mourned by her partner and soul mate, Bill. Although they met late in their lives, they had great plans of spending their retirement years together traveling and loving each other. Although their time together was short, their love for one other was fierce and a blessing for them both.

Born in Louisiana, Helen grew up in Puerto Rico and was fluent in Spanish. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in urban studies from the University of Colorado in 1976 and then a master of arts in journalism from Louisiana State University in 1983. Helen then spent three decades as a journalist, reporter, editor and photographer. During that span, she worked for wire services such as the Associated Press and United Press International; the Economist Intelligence Unit; and for newspapers such as the San Juan Star (Puerto Rico), the Daily Journal (Venezuela), the Burlington Free Press (Vermont) and the Gabber (Florida). Her work also included the nonprofit Foreign Policy Association and the U.S. Census Bureau. She freelanced for entities ranging from BioNews Services and bobvila.com to Vermont Woman and CubaNews.

Helen was a world traveler, having gone to South Korea with the Peace Corps, then traveled extensively for both work and pleasure. She visited Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada and Mexico, the Philippines, and the South Pacific Islands. After establishing a journalism career, she moved to Milton, Vt., with her then-husband Mark to raise a family and be closer to her sister Jane. There, she enjoyed gardening, bird-watching and kayaking. Later, after Helen retired to St. Petersburg, Fla., Jane followed soon after, and they spent many afternoons at the dog beach together.

Helen’s last great trip was to Australia with her sister Jane; her daughter, Hannah; and Hannah’s partner, Amy. Their favorite part of the whirlwind trip was seeing the birds and wildlife — and, at the conclusion, Helen, Jane and Hannah got matching tattoos of sea lions.

Everywhere she went, Helen loved engaging with the locals to learn about their lives and cultures, whether it was in remote Western Australia or right in St. Petersburg. Helen was driven and focused on whatever she set her mind to and started businesses such as recording life histories and driving a snowplow. She also had a passion for real estate and would buy, fix, rent and sell houses. She adored animals and was often fostering local pets in need.

Helen was truly a remarkable woman and will be missed by most everyone who met her.

There will be no services. In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Camphill Village in Copake, N.Y., a community for people with disabilities or Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

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