Helen-Ann (Tudsy) Bourke

FALMOUTH – Helen-Ann Bourke died on May 20, 2020, at her daughter’s farmhouse in a room envisioned for that purpose. Supporting her journey to God were her son, son-in-law and daughter. Helen-Ann was born in Lewiston. She became Tudsy in high school when a peer mis-pronounced Tardif, her maiden name.

In her youth she coursed down the tree-laden hill across from Bates College and down Tuckerman’s Ravine, a rite of passage. At Camp Pesky she progressed from camper to counselor to camp nurse. Prompted by a maternal grandmother with diabetes and a neighbor with brain-based struggles, she chose nursing. She worked in delivery, emergency, a doctor’s office, as a traveling nurse and doing blood pressure and flu clinics. Though she earned the CHS 1989 Nurse of the Year Award, she spoke more about her training at Mercy Hospital, class of 1951, maintaining, “There’s a difference between taking care of someone and caring for them.” In the last four years she humbly accepted assistance and was ever the champion and mentor, telling staff to take one course at a time and get their degree. “You can do it”.

Inseparable from her life narrative was her innate love of a little lakeside camp her father built from hemlock slabs. Her greatest sustenance, family. Such loyalty and tenderness from her son-in-law and daughter-in-law. We’re beneficiaries: grandchildren agree that on outings “the constant was the desire to turn strangers into friends.” When her son thinks of an adage that embodies her, it’s “Happiness is an inside job.” When her daughter thinks of her best gift, it’s her mother introducing her to God and Mary when she was little.

She was strong prior to a sudden health issue (not Covid-19). Nineteen days before her death, her family decorated a courtyard tree stating she was their sunshine. She promptly posted her own note: “Je vous aime tous! I came. I love. I live. Thank you all.”

She leaves behind her son, Charles T. Bourke Jr. (Carrie Bourke), daughter, Terri Ann Bourke (Michael Conroy); beloved grands, Chris, Haley and Emily Bourke, Nicky (Jon Larner-Lewis), Nathan and Sean Conroy; precious great-grand, Shepherd; her sister-in-law, Sylvia Tardif; her cousin, Patty Crowley; and nieces and nephews. Heartfelt thanks to Birchwoods and Avita.

Condolences may be sent to A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home, 660 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME 04102 in C/O of Helen-Ann’s family. Her family looks forward to a Catholic Memorial Mass and a gathering in the future. In the meantime, may we consider how in her old age Helen-Ann continued to offer her unique combination of good cheer, playfulness, gratitude, acceptance, and love.

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