Helen Masson Copelad — Charlotte, N.C.

Author, mother and champion for creativity, Helen Masson Copeland, formerly of Rochester, died on June 7, 2016, in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., at the age of 96.

Formerly a resident of The Cypress of Charlotte, N.C., she had recently moved to New York to be closer to her children.

Helen Louise Masson was born April 24, 1920, in Rochester, the second child and only daughter of Dr. James Caruthers Masson and Marion Knowles Masson. After she graduated from Wheaton College (Massachusetts) with a degree in zoology, she worked as a lab assistant at the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C., where she met Army Air Corps pilot Herbert Jones Copeland, of Charlotte.

They married in 1946 and moved to his hometown where the family grew to include three sons and a daughter. The neighborhood children on Maryland Avenue in the Myers Park neighborhood were drawn to the Copeland house and yard for its multitude of prospects for free and creative play that emanated from there. In 1958, Helen forged ahead as a single mother and additionally followed a new calling to become a writer and poet.

She focused all her energies on raising her children and writing, eventually publishing more than 50 works, including magazine features, short fiction, poetry, children's books, and a memoir encompassing the early history of the Mayo Clinic. Notable works include: "Meet Miki Takino," "Duncan's World," "Festival in the Park," "This Snake is Good," "Pill Hill" and "Endangered Specimen." A book she was working on at the time of her death — "The Pony Engineers" — will be published posthumously.

In the community, Helen served as a volunteer at the Nature Museum, taught writing classes at Central Piedmont Community College, was president of the Charlotte Writers Club and was a lifelong member of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

She is survived by her four children — Howard, Marion (Mitchell), Bill and Jamie — 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Consistent with her wishes, there will be no public funeral service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Charlotte Nature Museum or the Charlotte Writer's Club.