Bernyce Jeanette Helbing was proud to be a third generation San Franciscan, born on August 24, 1925 to Walter and Bernadine O’Connor. She attended St. Cecilia’s Grammar School where she met her best friend forever, Claire Keane Gritsch. She went to Presentation Academy, then Lincoln High School, and graduated from St. Rose Academy in 1943. At Lincoln she met the love of her life and future husband, Hal Helbing, as well as many pals who became lifelong friends.
After working as a secretary for the Coast Guard Academy during WWII, she married her Hal in 1948. Bernyce dedicated her life to him and the raising of their three children in the West portal neighborhood, just a block from her parents’ home. After discovering two of her three children were born with cystic fibrosis, she fiercely did everything she could to ease their difficult road.
In 1977 she and Hal moved to the Napa Valley where they lived a happy, fulfilling life. Bernyce passed away peacefully in her own bed, in the beautiful house that Hal built for her 40 years ago, with her son Harry holding her hand.
Bernyce was preceded in death by her loving husband, Harold Helbing Jr.; her daughter Suzanne Helbing and son Mark Helbing; her sister Yvonne Grady, and her parents, Walter and Bernadine O’Connor. She is survived by her son Harry Helbing; granddaughter Kimberly Helbing; great grandchildren Nicole and Connor Helbing; sisters Annette Healy and Joan Smith; and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church on August 14, 2019 at 11:00 am. She will be buried beside her daughter and husband at Golden Gate National Cemetery.
Donations in her honor may be made to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (cff.org). Memories and notes of sympathy may be shared at claffeyandrota.com.