May 16, 1947 - May 30, 2013
CARMEL — Marie Helene Lucie Gagnon Deak, passed away peacefully Thursday, May 30, 2013, in her residence in Carmel — after a year battle against brain cancer — just two weeks following her 66th birthday.
Born in Princeville, Quebec, Canada, to Lucien Gagnon and Madeleine Poirier; Helene was the oldest in a family of eight children.
Helene began her pursuit of a degree in nursing at l’ecole de Nicolet, and was awarded the title of registered nurse from College Maisonneuve in Montreal. Helene’s professional nursing career originated at the Drummondville Hospital, but while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, she met her beloved Joe. After a year and a half of long-distance courtship, Joe persuaded Helene to join him in the United States, where they wed in September of 1974.
Helene encountered only one obstacle upon arriving in the United States; her lack of proficiency in the English language would be a barrier to passing the U.S. state nursing boards. Once again, she returned to the classroom at the Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in South Bend. With an additional year of training, she then became licensed in her new home.
In July of 1974, Helene began a 38-year nursing career at Elkhart General Hospital. After service on pediatric and traditional medical units, she found her greatest joy working on the post-surgical care unit and serving as charge nurse, preceptor and mentor. Helene was loved by her patients, and was respected and admired by her colleagues; she was totally dedicated to her nursing career, and her commitment carried forth into her daily life. Helene was honored with a surprise reception given by the staff and administration of Elkhart General upon her retirement in June 2012, and was awarded a paver in the Celebration of Life Pathway.
In addition to her nursing achievements, Helene’s most rewarding accomplishment was that of motherhood. She thoroughly enjoyed sharing the interests, activities and accomplishments of her daughter, Natalie. Helene created a pathway for Natalie to explore the fine arts, sports and intellects through various establishments including but not limited to YMCA, Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Debbie Werbroucks Dance Studio, Penn Volleyball, East Race Travel Volleyball club, etc. More than just a chauffeur, Helene reveled in becoming actively involved as “Team Mom” for the above mentioned. Helene’s encouragement and her belief in the importance of education culminated in Natalie’s graduation from the Indiana University School of Dentistry in May of 2011. Her final pleasure was dancing with family and friends at the April 2012 fairytale wedding of her daughter in Seaside, Fla.
Helene is survived by her husband, Joseph Charles Deak; her daughter, Dr. Natalie Rose Deak Atkinson; her brothers, Victor Gagnon, Normand Gagnon and Richard Gagnon; and her sisters, Louise Ally and Suzanne Gagnon.
Helene was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Jeanine Stevenson.
Helene’s memorial service will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 8, 2013, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church and School. Friends and family are welcome for condolences one hour prior to the Mass.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Elkhart General Hospital or Queen of Peace Catholic Church. Helene will be greatly missed.