Helen Elizabeth Bouchard

Helen Elizabeth Bouchard, 96, formerly of Hinsdale, passed away Dec. 27, 2022, after a distinguished journey from the Great Depression through the COVID pandemic.

Helen, the daughter of Ernest and Helen Clancy and sister to “Bud,” grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where she attended St. Barnabas and Longwood Academy. In those early years, and especially during the Great Depression, she learned the importance of love, compassion and service, which she reflected throughout her life.

After graduating from high school, she began employment at the Inland Steel Co. in downtown Chicago in 1944. She wrote letters to Inland Steel employees who were deployed overseas during World War II. One serviceman in particular, Robert Clayton Bouchard, would change the trajectory of her life. Upon his return from Japan, they began dating and married in 1948. Together they had seven children: Robert, Craig (Melissa), Cheri (Bob McEwen), Rick (Julie), Jim (Heisa, Carolyn), Kathryn (Craig Chval) and Scott (Lynn), raising them in Kansas City and Chicago’s suburbs.

Helen was the ultimate mother, with each child believing they were her favorite. Helen was adored by her 22 grandchildren: Kai, Justin, Patrick, Shale, Cambelle, Braidy, Jennifer, Robbie, Jim, Bill, Ryan, Nick, Natalie, Clayton, Aubrey, James, Robert, Lauren, Craig, Luke, Tawnee and Helena; as well as 13 great-grandchildren: Aria, Charlotte, Selene, Elise, Elenna, Ivy, Lily, Remy, Marlowe, Tommy, Evelyn, James and William. Helen loved spending time with her extended family: her brother, Bud (Jean) and their children, Tom, Joe, Linda, Carol, Joan, Bob and David Clancy; and her brother-in-law, Dick (Helen) and their children, Larry and Ann Bouchard.

Helen insisted that her children pursue an education, and along with her beloved husband Bob, she devoted herself most passionately to the schools her children attended, including St. John of the Cross and Hinsdale Central High School, where several of her children played on championship teams. Starting in 1965, her generosity, strength, work ethic, hospitality and kindness created a legacy that remains at Hinsdale Central to this day, via the Bouchard Family Fitness Center and Helen Bouchard Scholarship, as well as the fact that three of her children were inducted in the Hinsdale Central Hall of Fame for their contributions to the school and community.

Beyond their education, Helen instilled in her children the importance of living a life filled with meaning and contribution, something she modeled throughout her life. She was always on her feet serving others or helping with children and grandchildren, setting the stage for the contributions they all would make to their communities. Her door was always open and her home was filled with joy and chaos as it was the home for play, laughter and competition. Throughout it all, Helen was always calm, cool, smiling and thrilled to engage with all who entered. In her presence, everyone felt loved, heard and important.

Thank you to those who cared for and invested time to visit Helen in her later years, especially Kathy and Mona; her friends in the St. John of the Cross community, especially Jane; her neighbors, especially Alyce; and her friends and caregivers, especially Linda, Wander and those at Plymouth Place.

A funeral Mass was said Jan. 3 at St. John of the Cross Church in Western Springs. A celebration of life will take place in June 2023.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Hinsdale Central Foundation for the Helen Bouchard Scholarship at P.O. Box 296, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 or call (630) 286-9678.

Hallowell & James Funeral Home in Countryside handled the arrangements.