on May 13, 2014 - 7:32 PM
Feb. 22, 1927 – May 12, 2014
Helen C. Whalen, whose South Buffalo family includes some of the best-known names in local politics, died Monday in Our Lady of Mercy Nursing Facility, Lackawanna, where she lived for the last six years. She was 87.
Born Helen Healy in Buffalo, she was the daughter of Irish immigrants from County Clare. One of eight children, she attended St. John’s School and Mount Mercy Academy in South Buffalo.
In 1947 she married Gerald J. Whalen, who would serve many years on the Buffalo Common Council as the representative from the South District, and who survives.
Mrs. Whalen was active in many civic and charitable organizations over the years, most notably the Judge John D. Hillery Scholarship Fund, which raised funds for needy students.
But she is best known for her family’s many connections to politics and government. Besides her husband, her oldest daughter, Margaret Keane, was among the first women in the Buffalo Fire Department and was eventually appointed deputy fire commissioner by former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello. Her son Gerald was elected to State Supreme Court and was later appointed to the Appellate Division by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Her youngest son, Timothy, served in the Erie County Legislature. And her son-in-law, James P. Keane, was a former South Council member, deputy county executive and congressional candidate.
Other survivors include three daughters, Anne Marie Kelley, Susan Kelleher and Casey Wilson; 22 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Her oldest son, Raymond, was a Buffalo firefighter who died in the line of duty in 1985.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the St. Ambrose worship site of Our Lady of Charity Catholic Parish, 65 Ridgewood Road.