Helen McKee Duff Thompson, age 93, of State College, Pa., passed away January 30, 2017, at home in Foxdale Village, State College, Pa. Helen was born on May 26, 1923, in Chester, Pa. daughter of the late Wilbur Kaylor McKee and Helen Dorothy McKee. She attended Chester High School and graduated from Nether Providence High School. Helen graduated from Penn State University class of 1944, with a degree in Art Education and the University of Delaware with a Master's degree in Art. At Penn State she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, President and Captain of the woman's rifle team and Art Editor of the PSU yearbook La Vie. She met the love of her life, Martin Duff at Penn State when as editor of La Vie he interviewed Helen for position on the yearbook staff. They married on May 4, 1944. Martin passed away in 1974. Helen met and married Joseph Thompson in Dover, Delaware in 1981. Joseph passed away in 1998. She lived most of her life in Chester, Pa., Newark and Dover, Delaware, Ocala, Florida, and State College, Pa.
Helen was a very accomplished Artist-educator, who retired in 1982 from the Arts faculty of Delaware State University. Prior to her ten years at Delaware State she taught for 12 years in public schools in Marshallton and Smyrna, Delaware. She worked as a commercial artist for Gimbel Brothers in Brooklyn, New York after WWII and during the war she worked as a registered Occupational Therapist at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC. She exhibited and earned awards for her painting since 1956, for her weaving since 1972, and for her photography since 1982. Her work has been exhibited in several Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and Florida. Her paintings and weavings are in many collections and her photography was recognized and published. Representing the state of Delaware, Helen was selected to design a Christmas ornament for President Clinton's Blue Room Christmas tree. Her "woven snowman" hung on that Whitehouse tree and is now in the Clinton Library. As a volunteer, Helen designed and built stage sets for the Kent County Theatre Guild and was an active member of the National League of American Pen Women, an instructor and member of the SDALL Weaving Group, and demonstrating weaving at the Delaware Agriculture Museum and Village in Dover.
Helen enjoyed her home on Andrew's Lake near Frederica, Delaware, which she designed and was the general contractor building the house in 1979. Helen lived her entire life surrounded by and loved by her family. Her family, including nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and children all have many fond memories of fun times at Helen's lake house! Helen loved her family and always enjoyed combining the roles of wife, mother, aunt, and grandmother with her career.
Helen is survived from her marriage to Martin Duff, by her daughter Lauren R. Duff of Burtonsville, Maryland, and her son Martin H Duff and his wife Joan of State College. She had three grandchildren, Martin(Jessica), Hong Kong, Andrew(Toni Feret), and Adam(Tara), both from State College, and three great grandchildren, Martin V, Allison and Emily. Surviving from her marriage to Joe Thompson are his son S. Michael(Verna)of Frederica, and daughter-in-law Dee Little(Chuck)of Rehoboth Beach, four additional grandchildren, Joseph Thomson, Frederica, Alexis Kenny(Chris), Australia, Leah Fyock, Hockessin, De., and Ian(Michelle)Harrington, De., and five great grandchildren, Mason, Lachlan, Graybill, Kennedy, and Everly. Also surviving is Helen's close cousin Tom Jaggers(Carolyn) in Swansboro, NC.
Helen's family thanks the staff at Foxdale Village for the tender loving care provided to Helen. They are a group of extraordinary people who added tremendously to the quality of Helen's life in her later years.
Services and a Celebration of life will be held May 18th, at the Presbyterian Church of Dover, Delaware, where Helen had been a member and a church elder. Interment will be private for the family at Sharon Hills Memorial Park, Dover, Delaware.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be offered to THON, Penn State Dance Marathon which is a student run PSU philanthropy. Money raised is devoted to kids and their families fighting childhood cancer at PSU Hershey Children's Hospital. Helen loved children! You can make a difference in a child's life by sending a check to Dance Marathon, and include a note, indicating the gift is in honor of Helen Duff Thompson. Please send to Donor Services, Penn State University, 2583 Gateway Drive, suite 130, University Park, PA 16802.
Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com or visit us on Facebook.