Gloucester — On July 23, 1925, Katherine Helen Williams was born in Gloucester, Mass. She was the third child born to Uriah Lloyd “Red” and Gertrude Mina (Blake) Williams, following Red’s near-death fishing excursion. The wheels of destiny started to turn in the summer of 1924 when a storm kicked up in the Northeast corner of the Atlantic known as George’s Bank. Uriah, a Grand Banks fisherman originally from Shelborne County, Nova Scotia, married the beautiful Gertrude and made his home in Gloucester and fished on her schooners. During the storm, he and his dory-mate were reported lost at sea. On a crisp autumn day after his funeral, Red returned home with a scruffy red beard and his sea bag over his shoulder to the delight of his wife and two children, Ginny and Bumpsy. The next summer Helen was welcomed into the world and would retell this story of her birth.
Helen grew up shielded from the Great Depression by her parents in a loving home. She played with her friends, loved her kitty, Smokey, and was doted on by her parents and older siblings. On many occasions, the Williams family would travel back to Nova Scotia to visit her father’s family. She attended several public schools including Babson, Collins, Central Grammar, and then graduated from Gloucester High School with honors in 1943. She later graduated from Wilfred Academy in Boston.
During her formative years, Helen, a lifelong member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, sang in the youth choir and because of her remarkable voice, was repeatedly asked to sing solos; this led to professional voice lessons and a passion for music and singing throughout her life. As a young lady she sang in many public venues. She even sang with a “big band” in Boston. However, her love was musical theater and she sang solos in local area performances of "Show Boat," "South Pacific," and many others. Her love of music and singing was impressed upon her children and grandchildren as she sang to them and taught them songs of the 1940s and 1950s.
Another passion that Helen shared with her daughters was the Masonic-affiliated organization of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls. This fraternal order guided young women in a spiritual life that emphasized service to others, social graces and lifelong friendships. Helen, a natural leader, was elected Worthy Advisor of Gloucester Assembly #41 and later watched proudly as both her daughters were elected to the same office. Helen was a member of the Mother’s Circle and Advisory Board of Rainbow. Once again, she helped with the musical shows the organization put on as fundraisers by offering her voice and stage knowledge. Helen also earned the "Grand Cross of Color," their highest award for her dedicated service, and became a life-member of Eastern Star.
After graduation from Wilfred Academy, Helen set out to work as a hair stylist for the international Frank L. Smith & Co. in W.G. Brown Department Store. She also worked for the Bell Telephone Company as a telephone operator and later was part of the "Pioneer Club." During this time, she and her girlfriends would attend musicals, Bruins games, and take the Friday night “Snow Train” from Gloucester to New Hampshire for ski trips. Summers were spent on the beaches, walking the boulevard, and at Dun Fudgin for evening picnics with family and friends.
In 1953, Helen married Thomas N. Hodge, Jr. and became a homemaker and mother of two daughters. Dani and Judi changed her life and as a devoted loving mother she took pride in everything they did. She brought them to art, ballet, piano, and horseback riding lessons. She was a member of the Beeman School PTA as well as a volunteer in the school library. She was always there to help her girls with Riverdale Drum and Bugle Corps, Brownies, Girl Scouts, 4 -H Club, Rainbow Girls and grand assembly trips, homework assignments, GHS Girls’ Drill Team, and all the proms. She planned birthdays, and Halloween and Christmas parties for them and their friends. There was always something happening at her home; like the time Judi surprised her with a handful of baby frogs on the kitchen table and just let them go, or when she begrudgingly signed the permission slip so that Dani could have a chance to win the class hamster and won him! Always at her side was Barney, the family dog, and she couldn’t sit down without one of the cats jumping up in her lap. She loved dressing her daughters in the latest fashions and enjoyed the shopping trips to buy them new things. Summer vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee and the mountains of New Hampshire were cherished family times. She also enjoyed the family boat and evening cruses on the Annisquam River. Thursdays were her “club” day. She and her sister were joined by a group of ladies who shared lunch and worked on their projects together at each others’ homes. As a group, they learned to knit, needlepoint, make hooked and braided rugs, and designed stained glass pieces. They also had outings to galleries and museums and shopping. Often they went to the Wenham Tea House for shopping and naturally, a cup of tea. The time went by too quickly; the girls grew into women and Helen was once again single.
Her next career was that of a hostess at Dexter’s Hearthside Restaurant in Essex. There she was adored by co-workers and customers alike. It was during this time that she was reacquainted with a childhood friend and the “love of her life,” John B. Auditore. Poni, as everyone knew him, was a marine biologist and widower with three adult sons. She and Poni happened upon each other two days before Christmas and soon started dating and married in August of 1981.
They lived happily, traveling and enjoying life with their dog, Macgregor, and their two Siamese cats. They loved their vacations to all the New England states, Washington, D.C., Maryland, upstate New York and to her ancestral home of Nova Scotia. Holidays were always a joyous time when the families joined together. It was a time for Poni to tell his stories and Helen to get everyone to sing and help with the cooking. It ended too soon with the untimely death of Poni in June of 1987.
Helen became a grandmother after her daughter Judi married and had three beautiful children. Kathi, Tyler and Trevor became the center of her universe. As the tender, doting Nana, she sang lullabies, read stories and listened very carefully to each of them. They shared cookouts at the pool and she watched as they marched in most of the 4th of July Horribles Parades. She delighted in hearing about school and sports, going to recitals, playing games and watching them grow into the beautiful young adults they are today. She would always smile with pride at just the mention of their names.
St. John’s Episcopal Church was always a very important part of her entire life from singing in the choir to the Altar Guild later. She and her friends were always at the Sunday, 8 a.m. service and then out to coffee afterwards. Many of them were her childhood friends.
Helen’s lengthy illness confined her to Seacoast Nursing Facility where the wonderful staff cared for her. We cannot possibly thank them enough for all they did for Helen and her entire family.
Helen was known for her wonderful sense of humor, always with a warm smile for everyone. She was courageous, kind and an animal lover. Helen taught love, patience, and understanding. This is her legacy that will live forever in her daughters and grandchildren.
She is survived by her daughters, H. Diane (Hodge) and her husband, David Stotzer, Judith Ann (Hodge) and her husband, David Bergeron; grandchildren, Katherine Florence, Tyler John, and Trevor Williams Kaity; and their father, Steven P. Kaity; nieces, Challis (Martin) and her husband, David Williams, Patricia (Williams) and her husband, Mark Natti, Sheila (Williams) and her husband, Robert Boudrow; nephews, Walter and his wife, Winnie Martin, and Alvin Williams; stepsons, Salvatore and his wife, Carol Auditore, and John Auditore; and many grandnieces and grandnephews. In addition to her husband, John B. “Poni” Auditore she was also predeceased by a sister, Gertrude “Ginny;” her husband, F. Walt Martin; a brother, Alvin L. “Bumpsy” and his wife, Dorothy Williams.
ARRANGEMENTS: Her funeral service will be held on Thursday morning in the St. John’s Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday in the Pike-Grondin Funeral Home, 61 Middle Street, Gloucester, from 5 to 7 p.m. Relatives and friends are cordially invited to attend. Interment will be held in the Beechbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to the Friends of Seacoast c/o Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 298 Washington Street, Gloucester, MA 01930 or to the Eastern Star Scholarship Fund – Heard Chapter No. 94 O.E.S., c/o Miss Kathryn E. Olmsted, P.O. Box 604, Rowley, MA 01969-3604. For further information and to send online condolences, please visit www.grondinfuneralservices.com.