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Helen Sharpensteen Preiss

Obituary for Helen Sharpensteen Preiss

December 2, 1922 - August 12, 2018
Wilmington, Delaware | Age 95


Helen Sharpensteen Preiss of Newark, DE, age 95, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 12, 2018 in Wilmington. She was born on December 2, 1922 in Port Huron, MI to the late James Thurman Sharpensteen and Mayme Laura (Holt) Sharpensteen.

Helen spent her childhood in Michigan and earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Northern Michigan University in 1944. After a stint teaching high school in Port Huron, Helen enrolled at the University of Michigan, receiving a PHD in Botany in 1954. For the next few years, Helen did post-doctoral work at various academic institutions around the country. At her last stop in New Haven, she met her future husband John Preiss, then a graduate student at Yale. She and John were married in 1959 and eventually settled in Newark, where he had a job at the University of Delaware. They had two children and were married for 20 years before his passing in 1980.

Helen had a great many interests, which reflected her lifelong love of learning. She was particularly interested in languages, picking them up very easily. For a time, she used her combined knowledge of Russian and biology to translate scientific journals for various publishers. Later she learned Ancient Greek and met regularly for many years with a fellow linguist to read the classics. An enthusiastic amateur musician, Helen was a violinist with the Newark Symphony for close to 50 years, and had a particular passion for playing chamber music. Helen retained her early interest in botany; she led walks in White Clay Creek State Park and maintained a mental inventory of all the interesting trees in Newark. She enjoyed spending time with friends, and was always willing to have a cup of tea and chat.

Helen is survived by her daughter, Rachael Susman and her husband, James Susman of Portland, OR; son, Paul Preiss of Newark, DE, and two grandchildren: Sarah Susman of Eugene, OR and Daniel Susman of Portland, OR.

Services for Helen will be held at 11:00 am Saturday, October 13, 2018 at R.T. Foard & Jones Funeral Home, 122 W. Main St., Newark, DE 19711, where family and friends my begin visiting at 10:00 am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Helen's honor may be made payable to "Newark Symphony" and sent in care of the funeral home.

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  • In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Helen's honor may be made payable to "Newark Symphony" and sent in care of the funeral home.

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R.T. Foard & Jones, Inc.

122 W. Main Street
Newark, DE 19711
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