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Helen Yanak Nestor Parsons '51

Helen Yanak Nestor Parsons, 88, died on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 in Oakland, California. Born on May 22, 1928, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Helen was the daughter of Jan and Zuzanna Yanak, originally of CeCehov, Slovakia.

An avid student, after graduating from Aliquippa Senior High School, where she was a member of the Honor Society, she attended Antioch College and Pennsylvania State University in Pittsburgh. There she met Edward James Nestor, whom she married on July 23, 1949; the couple soon moved to El Paso, Texas, where they raised two daughters.

Helen completed her studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree in education. As the child of immigrants who spoke only limited English, she encountered numerous struggles when she first entered elementary school. These experiences led her to work with English as a Second Language students at Sunland Park Elementary School in New Mexico, where she taught for over twenty years.

Edward died in 1978 after a protracted battle with emphysema. On February 14, 1986, Helen married Dr. Frank Parsons, with whom she spent many happy years ballooning, birding, and traveling around the world. In 1984, the couple moved to Prescott, Arizona, where Helen served for several years as treasurer for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. Frank died in 2009.

In 2012, in order to be closer to her daughters, Helen moved to St. Paul's Towers, a retirement community in Oakland, California. She made many friends at St. Paul's and served on the residents' Green Action Committee. She also volunteered for Project Open Hand and demonstrated against oil and coal emissions at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, California.

Helen will be remembered for her strong sense of social justice, her generosity, the care and respect that she showed to all she knew.

She is survived by her daughters, Shivaun M. Nestor and Shivaun's fiance, Colin Lindsey, of Alameda, California, and Amy R. Nestor of Doha, Qatar; her step-daughters, Judy Keys of San Diego, California, and Bequi Livingston of Albuquerque, New Mexico; her step-grandchildren Amity and Parker Livingston, and Jennifer Deisher; and her nieces and nephews Rebecca, Philip, Lisa, Lydia, Devon, Laurel, and Lyle.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Audubon Society, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or the Southern Poverty Law Center.