Wilton woman — hula hoop contest winner at 92 — is 100
WILTON — With a chocolate layer cake and chocolate mocha frosting, a bouquet of flowers and balloons, Helen Ladouceur celebrated her 100th birthday on July 11 at The Greens at Cannondale assisted-living facility.
“Biaggio made the cake just for me,” she said of the chef at the Greens via FaceTime on Friday. “He makes me a cake every year. He tells me I’m beautiful.”
Helen was born in Manhattan in 1920 to Harold Abrahamson, an Ashkenazi Jew from Poland, and Lena Weinstein, who emigrated from Russia. Her Jewish name, she said, is Hendel.
Helen lived for a time in Brooklyn, eventually moving with her family to Long Island, N.Y.. Although she grew up during the Depression, that is not what she chose to talk about last week. Instead, she related how she was very bright, skipping grades and graduating high school at 15.
Women had won the right to vote just a month after her birth, but opportunities for women had not progressed very far by the time Helen graduated. She was not able to go to college.
“They told me, ‘what would we do with a teenager on campus?’” she recalled, explaining that she looked even younger than her age. They told her, “What kind of job could we offer you?” she said.
Eventually, she was hired by the car rental company Hertz, where she built a “big career in customer relations.” Hertz brought her to Chicago for training, where the four-foot-10 inch girl with golden blond hair and a turned-up nose met six-foot-three-inch Dennis Ladouceur.
Dennis, she said, was Catholic, but that did not stop them from falling in love and getting married. “We didn’t care,” she said. “We’re both God’s children.”
Helen and Dennis lived in Flushing for 40 years. When asked the happiest time of her life, Helen unhesitatingly said “the birth of my son.”
Her son is Evan Ladouceur, whom she proudly described as “the most important investment banker in the world.”
She is also the proud grandmother of two girls, Emma and Sarah, and a boy, Lance.
Helen moved to The Greens 10 years ago. At the age of 92, she won a hula hoop contest there and when she was 94, she sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” in the facility’s talent contest.
Of her age, Helen said “my vision is very good but I can’t hear.” She also professed a liking for Chinese food — “not Cantonese, Szechuan.”