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Helen F (McCormick) Breen

January 23, 1928 ~ May 18, 2020 (age 92)


Helen F. Breen (nee McCormick), age 92, of Glen Ellyn, IL, passed peacefully following a brief illness on May 18, 2020.

Helen was born in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood to Saul and Mary Catherine (Ryan) McCormick.  Upon graduation from Aquinas High School, Helen was a dancer with a professional touring troupe.  After returning to Chicago, Helen began work at the Chicago Tribune, where she was employed until her marriage to Vernon C. Breen in 1951.

In addition to her adoring husband Vernon, Helen is survived by her beloved children, Maureen (Gary) Barunas and Thomas Breen (Karylle Wike); her grandchildren Lindsay (Jeff) Spears, Tyler Breen, Brett (Kelly Breen), Ryan Barunas (Caitlin Kaser), Sean Barunas (Sarah Hreyo) and Kevin Barunas; and great grandchildren Hayden Krizman, Helen and Ryan Spears. Helen will be greatly missed by her extended family, whom she loved dearly: Richard Breen, Daniel (Kym) Breen, Richard (Karen) Howard, Judy Howard, Ann (Robert) Boyd, William (Melinda) Howard, and Mary Howard (Rachel Carbone) and many others.

Helen was preceded in death by a son Patrick and a daughter Kathleen, as well as her sister Mary Howard Evans, her brother, James McCormick, and her nephew, James Howard.  

Helen’s favorite poem was Invictus, particularly the last two lines:

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

The poem sums up Helen’s outlook perfectly.  She faced many challenges on her life, including the loss of her infant son, and raising a daughter with special needs.  For 57 years, Helen was a full time caregiver for Kathy, a task that she took on with love and patience, without complaint or regret.  Despite the tremendous demands on her time, she was the first to volunteer wherever she was needed.  We were blessed by her strength, devotion, wisdom, kindness and ever positive disposition. Helen lived life with joy and in her last conscious moments, was laughing and joking with hospital personnel.

Helen and her husband, Vernon were unwaveringly supportive and devoted to each other.  They built a wonderful life together, filled with laughter, many deep and enduring friendships, a shared love of travel, and the joys of raising a family together.

The family would like to thank Saturnina Domingo and Lea Jones for their love and support over the past several years.

Arrangements are being made by Leonard Funeral Home and St. James the Apostle Catholic Church, both in Glen Ellyn.  Burial will be at Assumption Cemetery in Winfield, IL.  Due to Covid-19 restrictions, services will be private.  A celebration of Helen’s life will be scheduled for a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen’s name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 6100 Rockside Woods Blvd. Suite 445, Independence, Ohio 44131 or by visiting the JDRF website at

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