Helene Abare celebrates her 100th birthday


Helene E. Abare was born on June 25, 1917 in Athol, Massachusetts to Cora Frazier and Alfred Ross. The youngest of four daughters, her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a barber. World War I was being fought when she was born. Her teenage years would coincide with the Great Depression. The future held World War II, rationing, the Cold War and much more.

Abare was raised and educated in her hometown and even married a local lad. On Oct. 26, 1940 she married Kenneth Louis Abare, the oldest of five children and three years younger than her. Their first date had been at a Sadie Hawkins Day dance, which she asked him to.

They were married for 32 years when Ken passed away during surgery on their 32nd anniversary. They had four children - three boys and a girl, all living. She has eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

The Abares moved to Florida in 1956, settling in New Port Richey. Her husband became a land developer/home builder and built three subdivisions and many custom homes in the area. Business flourished. He joined a small group of investors in the early 1960s called Black Mountain LTD, in Black Mountain, N.C. They purchased the side of a mountain off of U.S. 9 at the Continental Divide.

Ken subdivided the property, bulldozed access roads and built a corporate house at the top of the mountain. They purchased a six-seat airplane for their transportation and would fly Bahamian clients into the area for a few days to see the available property.

Helene’s job was to run the corporate A-frame as a bed and breakfast for the clients. She enjoyed meeting the new people and always had homemade, slow-cooked Boston Baked Beans, as well as applesauce made from local apples, homemade bread hot from the oven and a variety of other homemade delicacies.

Ken was always a little wary that the clients would like the food so much that they wouldn’t want to leave when their tour was up. Helene always made everyone feel like family when they came to stay.

The Abares were able to retire in 1970. They would spend the summers in Black Mountain, where they would enjoy their local friends, the beautiful weather, the mountain views and golfing. They traveled across the USA, into Alaska and enjoyed several European excursions.

After Ken’s death, Helene moved to the east coast of Florida to live near two of her children and their families. She continued to travel for the next 20 years, taking extended road trips across Eastern Europe and the United States with other widowed friends and relatives.

When home, she was always volunteering her time to the schools and libraries in the area. She particularly liked helping the art teachers with their projects. An artist herself, she has dabbled in many arts and crafts: crocheting, knitting, embroidery, sewing (she was able to look at a dress in the store, go home and make it without a pattern), pottery, wood carving, basket weaving, quilting, charcoal drawings, oil paintings, mixed media paintings, clay sculptures. You name it, she has tried and mastered about any art form.

She became an active member of the Palm Bay Senior Citizens Association in Palm Bay, Florida and served two terms as president.

She returned to North Carolina when her daughter retired and moved to Black Mountain. She lived with her daughter and her husband until her health required more medical attention than could be provided in a home setting. She was moved into the Marjorie McCune Memorial Center, where she still resides.