Louise Helm Bessire died peacefully in Falmouth, Maine on January 25. Louise was born in Louisville, KY on May 18, 1937, to Mary Norris Burge Helm and Thomas Oliver Helm. She was raised the third of six siblings in a house called White Oaks with much loved Springer Spaniels, ponies and horses. Louise attended Kentucky Home School (class of 1954), where she met many lifelong friends and played field hockey. She then followed her mother's footsteps to Smith College where she majored in Religion and graduated in 1958.\n\nLouise began dating her future husband, Henry Bessire, during her final year at Smith. Following their marriage in Louisville in 1959, they moved to New York City, then eventually settled in Brooklyn Heights where their two sons, Paul and Mark, were born.\n\nDuring her time in Brooklyn Heights, Louise began a lifelong commitment to creating community and helping others, particularly those in need. Louise and Henry were actively involved in the major issues of the day through their involvement in the NYC teachers' strike of 1968, the fight for equal rights, and their affiliation with Trinity Church, Wall Street. She was dedicated to the Democratic party and liberal politics throughout her life. In 1969, the family relocated to Princeton, NJ, where Louise worked on several Democratic campaigns including McGovern for President and served as Commissioner of Public Health. She was also executive director of Interalp, an international exchange program for high-school students, and, after their return to New York City, Louise ran a food program to provide lunch for the unhoused.\n\nDeeply committed to a spiritual life, Louise was an active member of the Episocopal church in New York City, Princeton, and Martha's Vineyard, most recently St. Ignatius on the Upper West Side and Grace Church on Martha's Vineyard. She served as a lay chaplain providing clinical pastoral education at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in NYC, and was a dedicated member of the Society of Companions of the Holy Cross, where she was leader of the New York Chapter.\n\nAn avid cook, Louise experimented with international cuisines during the 1970s while staying connected to her Kentucky roots by rolling out dishes such as spoon bread, corn pudding and Henry Baines sauce. She enjoyed creating meals as a centerpoint for gatherings of friends and family throughout her life. She instilled her epicurean curiosity in her sons and grandchildren. Louise and Henry were also passionate about travel and shared this love with their sons and grandchildren. Her carefully researched itineraries were legendary.\n\nLouise and Henry purchased their home, named the Yellow House, on Martha's Vineyard in 1966. Louise enjoyed gardening, caring for native plants, swimming at Lambert's Cove or Squibnocket, floating on her back with toes out of the water or skinny dipping with Henry, eating Grace Church lobster rolls on summer Friday nights and Chilmark Chocolates (there was always a box of dark chocolate caramels in the freezer), going to Poole's or Larsen's (depending on the era) to pick up fish after a fun day at the beach, shopping at the West Tisbury Farmer's Market, and walking at Polly Hill Arboretum. The Yellow House has always been filled with family, friends, beloved Springers, and art from Vineyard artists whose work and friendships she and Henry deeply cherished.\n\nLouise loved her life on the Upper West Side where she and Henry were regulars at Ouest, Amsterdam, and Teacher's. They were deeply passionate and connected to the City's art scene. Louise supported and frequented the City's many museums and galleries, was a regular attendee of Broadway and off-Broadway theater, and a decades long subscriber and supporter of the New York City Ballet. She inspired this passion in all of her family.\n\nLouise was also an avid reader throughout her life, with a deep love for both fiction and non-fiction and a soft spot for mysteries. She maintained her Kentucky roots through her Derby parties (replete with mint juleps and fried chicken) and in rooting for the University of Louisville in the NCAA tournament. Louise had strong opinions and enjoyed a robust debate about the pressing issues of the day at the dinner table. She was the ultimate family connector, enjoying hearing and sharing news of her many family members.\n\nShe is survived by her sons, Paul Edmond Bessire of Santa Monica, California, and Mark Helm Conlin Bessire (and wife Aimee Bessire) of Portland, Maine, her grandchildren, Nicholas Ollier Bessire, Emma Isabelle Bessire (and their mother, Anne Kaplan), Blakey Hawkins Conlin Bessire and Clayton Holloway Conlin Bessire; her siblings Mary Helm Meyers, Nancy Helm Thomas, Jane Helm Baker and Harold Helm; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was pre-deceased by her husband, Henry Edmond Bessire, and her brother, Thomas Helm.\n\nFuneral services will take place on June 4 at Grace Episcopal in Vineyard Haven with a memorial service to follow on June 11 at St. Ignatius Episcopal Church in New York City. Donations in her memory may be made to Grace Episcopal Church , P.O. Box 1957 in Vineyard Haven, the Vineyard Conservation Society (https://donate now.network for good.org/vineyard conservation/mdonate), or Adelynrood (The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross), 46 Elm Street, Byfield, Massachusetts.