Salem Township woman loved to work in her garden
Helen Kersten loved to garden. It was the place where she could be creative, and she had a real good sense of colors, said her daughter, Donna McDowell of Ligonier.
“She had a beautiful garden,” McDowell said. “She always liked flowers that were different.”
Mrs. Kersten did not rely on a landscaper to tell her what to plant. She did her research, went to nurseries and talked to the growers, McDowell said.
Her garden was so good that it was a stop along a garden tour from the Pittsburgh area about a decade ago, McDowell said.
Helen B. Kersten, formerly of Salem Township, died Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at Westwood Manor, Hempfield. She was 94.
She was born June 8, 1924, the daughter the late Arthur J. and Alma Fennell Bowman.
Mrs. Kersten graduated from Greensburg High School in 1942. It was in the midst of World War II when she traveled to Washington, D.C., where workers were needed.
She had known her future husband, Paul R. Kersten, since the two were youngsters at Delmont Presbyterian Church.
As the Allies were pushing across France in October 1944 in a massive drive to defeat Nazi Germany, the couple were married while he was on leave from the military. They relocated to Florida, where her husband was stationed, McDowell said.
Growing up during the Depression left an indelible mark on her. McDowell recalled that her mother was a stickler for her and her two brothers to finish the food that was on their plates.
“She was very creative with the use of leftovers,” although not all of the combinations that she loved to make were tasty to her children, McDowell joked.
She was employed by the former Southwest National Bank of Greensburg as an executive secretary in the trust department.
At Southwest National, she worked with Bonnie Van Horn of Greensburg, with whom she was friends for 42 years.
“She was lovely person,” Van Horn said. “She was a lady’s lady. She was gentle, kind and giving.”
She also volunteered at the Delmont Public Library, Meals on Wheels, Central Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and the Greensburg Garden Center.
McDowell said her mother was an independent person who wanted to go to Scotland and Ireland. She was a widow at the time and made the trip with a few friends.
“She was not afraid to venture out,” McDowell said.
In addition to her husband, she also was preceded in death by two brothers.
In addition to her daughter, Donna McDowell, she is survived by two sons, Robert A. Kersten of Gettysburg and Richard A. Kersten of Salem Township; four grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and a sister.
Arrangements were handled by the Bash-Nied Funeral Home, 152 Abbe Place, Delmont. Services were Saturday and interment was at Twin Valley Memorial Park.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Delmont Presbyterian Church or the Delmont Public Library.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .