FREMONT/HORNELL-Onalee Helmer Faulkner, 97, passed away peacefully early Wednesday morning (June 8, 2016) at Updyke’s Willow Ridge in Hornell, where she has resided the past three years.
Onalee was born at home on Dutch Street in Stephens Mills on November 23, 1918, the third child of Elvero and Mary Gates Helmer. Onalee graduated from Hornell High School in 1935. She was honored to celebrate her 80th high school reunion at the annual alumni banquet last June.
Following high school, Onalee attended Geneseo Normal School graduating in 1938 at the age of 19 with her teacher’s certification. She later returned to SUNY Geneseo and received her BS degree. Onalee’s teaching career began in rural schools including a one room schoolhouse on Crosby Creek where she was only slightly older than many of her students. She also taught in Angelica and then Bryant and Lincoln Schools in Hornell completing 23 years in the Hornell School District. Onalee was a dedicated and patient teacher who would go to extremes to help her students learn.
Onalee and Vincent W. Faulkner were married on July 19, 1943 in Hornell while Vincent was in the Army during WW II. They provided their family with a wonderful life while living on farms on Miller Hill, Hornell and then Sharps Hill, Arkport. They enjoyed a great partnership for 46 years until Vince’s death in April, 1989.
Vince came home from the war on Valentine’s Day, 1946 to Onalee and their five month old baby girl. Mary Ellen (David) Clarke of Painted Post was followed by two sons, Ronald Vincent Faulkner of Hornell and Dan Michael Faulkner of Geneseo. Surviving in addition to their children are dearly beloved granddaughters, Pamela Goins of York, S.C., Traci Langton of Indian Land, S.C., and Christine Faulkner of Geneseo, N.Y. ; 5 great grandchildren; her brother in law, John O. Faulkner and many very dear to her heart nieces and nephews.
Along with Vince, Onalee was predeceased by her parents; sister, Burdella(Emerson) Homet, and brother, Dorr Helmer.
Onalee was a member of Arkport Presbyterian Church, an 84 year member of Stephens Mills Grange, South Dansville Evening Star, organized Fremont Old Home Days celebrations, delivered Meals on Wheels, and the Fremont Cemetery Association. Onalee was very knowledgeable in the history of the area and greatly enjoyed Canisteo Valley Historical Society meetings. She worked tirelessly tracking down former graduates of HHS as a member of the Hornell Alumni Association of which she served as treasurer for six years. Onalee spent endless months searching for and contacting members of Vince’s Army platoon and reunited them many times across the country.
Onalee was generous and kind and found her happiness by making others happy. Friends, relatives, and neighbors were always welcomed. There were Fresh Air children from the Bronx for many summers as well as AFS exchange students Laotian “son” Sack and New Zealand “daughter” Liz. Cards were played, ice cream dished out, piano and organ music to sing to, and love abounded. As only a true friend would do, Onalee dedicated every night for over a year in caring for her dear disabled friend.
Onalee lived a long life of giving, caring, and sharing. She was gracious, thoughtful, and generous. All who knew her will miss her quick sweet smile and her loving heart.
Onalee’s family wish to thank the staff at Updyke’s Willow Ridge for the devoted and tender care of Onalee for the past three years. We are most grateful for the love and compassion you shared with her.
The Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc., 285 Main St., Hornell is honored to serve the family of Onalee Helmer Faulkner.
There will be no calling hours or service as Onalee wished. Burial will be at Greenlawn Cemetery, South Dansville at the family’s convenience.
Memorials in honor of Onalee can be made to the Hornell High School Alumni Association, PO Box 135, Hornell, N.Y. 14843.
Online condolences or remembrances of Onalee are welcomed at the Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home.