Helen McLernon Banchero1938 ~ 2012Helen McLernon Banchero, 73, a spirited soul with a generous spirit and hearty laugh, died Saturday, March 17 of lung disease. True to her Irish heritage, she died on her favorite holiday St. Patrick's Day. Born with the compassionate heart of a nurse, Helen spent a lifetime caring for others. Her life revolved around her four daughters and husband of 41 years, John D. Banchero, who preceded her in death 10 years ago. Helen loved to regale friends and family with full-throated Irish ditties, adored a good hot cup of tea, always in a "proper cup," and possessed an infectious laugh that seemed to stretch on forever. Helen was born in 1938 in Philadelphia, Penn., 15 minutes before her twin sister, Isabella. As a child, she continually snuck off to the library to read the dictionary or thesaurus, and loved to gather with her sisters in front of the radio to belt out Perry Como and Bing Crosby hits. Helen earned her RN license at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1959, a three-year degree that required her to attend classes during the day and work in the hospital nights and weekends, where she loved working in the pediatric unit. In 1960, she took off with three nursing friends in a 1956 Plymouth convertible on a cross-country adventure that landed her in San Francisco, where she met John, her constant companion and soul mate. The two were rarely separated after that. When he golfed, she rode in the cart to keep him company. When he bought season tickets to the Utah Jazz, she attended every game, nose buried in a book or chatting with those nearby. And when he raced through the city in his Porche, she sat in the passenger seat, white knuckles gripping the dashboard reeling off religious hymns. Helen worked for 35 years at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, much of it as the head nurse in the intensive care unit. Nursing was her identity and she possessed a kind heart, a fierce curiosity and a vigorous intellect that made her skilled at her job. Helen was an avid arts supporter and, along with John, held season tickets to the opera, dance, and symphony. Helen is survived by four daughters, Angela (Bill) Kelleher, Salt Lake City, Stephanie Banchero, of Chicago, Victoria (Matthew) Topham, of Salt Lake City, and Roseanne (Greg) Adcock, of Salt Lake City; grandson, Liam Kelleher; sister, Isabella, of Philadelphia. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Mary (Nicholls) McLernon, two brothers, Andrew and John, and a sister, Roseanne. A funeral mass will be celebrated Thursday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 1975 S. 2300 E. A vigil service will be held Wednesday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Neil O'Donnell and Sons Mortuary, 372 East 100 South, where friends may call from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Private family committal to take place at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Helen's name to Repertory Dance Theater, 331 S. Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84151. The family would like to thank Rocky Mountain Hospice, especially Tracie, Jessica and Blanca and Helen's dear friends Maria, Lori, Seija and Vivian.
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