Remembering Helen Samitz, Wife of Former Courier Publisher
I had known Helen Samitz for many years and, no matter, was surprised and saddened to hear of her passing last week at the age of 92. Helen and her husband Joe were the first people I met when joining the Canarsie Courier so many years ago; the precious time goes so fast, doesn’t it? Joe, Bob and Helen bought the paper in 1960 and worked hard over the years to expand the circulation of the Courier to help keep Canarsie informed on the local news and to support our businesses by offering local advertising. They loved Canarsie. And they did so much through the Courier to help the community in every way they could. Fundraising through the Canarsie Courier to help build Holy Family was just one of many ways that they helped.
Joe and Helen were picturesque, if I may be permitted to use that word. Frankly, standing side-byside they would have made the perfect subject for a Norman Rockwell painting. And she was pretty. Hardworking. Classy too. Not hard to understand why Joe married her. Right away, I could see by her disposition that we would get along together. In other words, we clicked.
Coming from broadcast journalism to the printed word was different for me, and there were many nuances that I needed to change; things I hadn’t done before, but those things were easily ironed out, I’m grateful to say, because of Helen. She made it easier for me.
When the paper was put to bed on a Wednesday evening and all the “negotiating” between Joe and Bob (and me) about the content of the paper had been calmed, Helen and I would sit in the outer office and talk about the weeks happenings and then laugh at how the two brothers got in each other’s hair on a weekly basis. Anyone who knew Helen, knew that she was light hearted and true to her Irish heritage, loved to laugh.
When Fridays came around, the calmest day for the shop, we would wind up being alone, with her doing the office work and me working on next week’s issue. Just the two of us. It was a special kind of camaraderie that we enjoyed. Without being pretentious, I’ll say those were special days that I’ll fondly remember.
When Joe passed away in 1981, Bob took over the Courier. Helen loved living in Canarsie and spent more time with her children, grandchildren and her friends like Theresa Scalise, Anne MacDonald (former Canarsie Courier employee), Jo Adams, and Eleanor Arnold to help fill the loss of Joe. In 2003 she moved to Florida near her son, Bob and his family, to a lovely retirement community, Freedom Village. Helen missed her Canarsie friends but kept in touch by phone to keep the strong friendships she had made over the many years that she lived in Canarsie. She also kept in constant contact with her children, Bob, Ray, and Eileen, and grandchildren, Jenna, Meghan, Katie, and Libby, and her great grandchildren, Christopher, Rachel and Laura. In her new Florida community, she was well liked for her positive, upbeat, good nature, and, again, for her love of laughter. So many have expressed their sadness, and what a loss this is.
She will be missed by all of us. May she rest in peace.