Agnes A. Helming

Sat, 03/30/2024 - 8:45am

Agnes Anthony “Toni” Helming, 98, passed away peacefully on March 29, 2024 at Gorham House, Gorham, Maine.

Toni was born on Aug. 24, 1925 in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, the younger daughter of William and Alexa Robertson Anthony. She graduated from Hannah More Academy in Maryland and from the University of Connecticut in 1946. While at UConn, she met Fred Helming, and they married on June 28, 1947. Toni and Fred raised their family of six children in Waterbury, Connecticut and were involved in the community and their children’s many activities. Once her children were in school, she became a substitute teacher in the Waterbury school system.

After the death of their son John in 1977, Toni and Fred moved to Wallingford, Connecticut where they were active members of the First Congregational Church of Wallingford and the community. Toni volunteered with the Red Cross, the local garden club, the public library, and at the polls on election day, and she served on the Committee on Aging. Throughout their lives, Toni and Fred enjoyed traveling, first with their children for family reunions and vacations, and later with Elderhostel programs in the US and Europe. Toni loved all travel, but especially enjoyed trips to England where she was able to visit with cousins from her mother’s family and to Fogo, Newfoundland to visit with cousins from her father’s family.

Toni’s parents bought a small cottage on Southport Island in 1951, which began the family’s 70+ year love affair with the island and Maine. Beginning in the mid-1960s, when Toni and Fred bought the cottage next door, she and the children were on Southport full time in the summer, and Fred commuted to and from his job in Connecticut.

Words are inadequate to express the joy and peace that Toni experienced when at their home in Cozy Harbor. She sailed, kept lovely gardens, picked berries, made jam, played bridge, knit sweaters and mittens that are still worn by family members, kayaked, read books, volunteered as a docent at the Southport Historical Society, explored the area with family and friends on foot and by sea, and warmly welcomed visitors – her own, her children’s, and her grandchildren’s. Her love of the island was enhanced by the generations of friends she made as a member of the Southport Yacht Club. She especially enjoyed watching the season-opening swim test for new sailors at the Southport Junior Yacht Club and working at the Past Commodores’ Lobster Bake.

In 2008, Toni and Fred moved from Wallingford to Gorham and immediately found a community at both their condo complex and at the First Parish Church of Gorham.

In September of 2020, Toni moved to Gorham House and made many dear friends in the tight-knit community on Lincoln. She participated in as many activities as possible, enjoyed discussing the news, watching Jeopardy! and UConn women’s basketball, walking around the campus, gathering with friends for a chat or a glass of wine, attending lectures, and playing Bingo for the first time.

Toni loved being with her large family and enjoyed hearing about activities, jobs, outings and travels, and the everyday stories of their lives. In these last years she especially enjoyed watching her grandchildren become parents, listening to the stories of their children’s antics, and watching her great-grandchildren enjoy all Southport has to offer.

Toni was predeceased by son John in 1977, husband Fred in 2017, and son David in 2021. Her parents and sister Mary also predeceased her.

Toni is survived by children Bill and spouse Peg Helming of Southport, Jim and spouse Kathy Helming of Portland and Southport, Susan Godfrey and spouse Chet of Charlton, Massachusetts, and Tom and spouse Mary Helming of Somerville, Massachusetts and Southport; grandchildren Sarah Helming of Portland, Andrew and spouse Amanda Helming of Charlotte, Vermont, Matt Helming and spouse Vanessa Lipschitz of Newton, Massachusetts, Nate Helming and spouse Erin Moody of Bend, Oregon, Tim Helming of Fort Collins, Colorado, Luke Helming of St. Louis, Missouri, Lexi Helming and partner Chris Shubert of Harpswell, Meg Helming and spouse Justin Boudrow of Cumberland, Brett Godfrey of Portland, Oregon, Craig Godfrey and spouse Maggie Hodder of Portland, Oregon, Katherine Walsh and spouse Ryan of North Reading, Massachusetts, and Emily Fleming and spouse Eugene of Ashland, Massachusetts; 11 great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.

Our family is grateful to the staff of Compassus Hospice Care for their support and immeasurably grateful to the staff of The Gorham House for the excellent care and peaceful space they provided during Toni’s last days.

If you would like to honor Toni with a donation, the family suggests Southport Memorial Library (P.O. Box 148, Southport, ME 04576), The Iris Network, which provides support to people with diminishing eyesight ( or The Iris Network, c/o Development, 189 Park Avenue, Portland, ME 04102), or the Gorham House Activities Fund (50 New Portland Road, Gorham, ME 04038).

A memorial service will take place at First Parish Congregational Church of Gorham on Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m., and Toni’s family plans a reception for her Southport community this summer.

To express condolences or to participate in Agnes’s online tribute, please visit