Helene Lang passed away peacefully on Aug. 21 at Wake Robin in Shelburne. Courageous and brave, she faced cancer for the fourth time and fulfilled her wish to have one last summer in Vermont surrounded by and actively engaged with family and friends.
Born May 3, 1931 in Lancaster, Massachusetts, she attended Lancaster public schools before enrolling at Worcester State College in Massachusetts, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1953. Further graduate studies led to her receiving a master’s in education in 1957 and a doctorate in 1970 from Boston University.
From 1960 to 1964, Lang taught in public schools in Massachusetts and for the U.S. Navy at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Sigonella, Sicily. From 1967 until 2001 she enriched the lives of many students as a professor of literacy and literature at the University of Vermont with specialties in reading, gifted education and library science.
Lang enjoyed sabbaticals in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh in 1975 and in England at Cambridge University in 1985, and the University of Bath in 1992 and 1999. She engaged in additional studies at the University of Arizona, the University of Toronto, and in Delhi, India.
A lifelong quest for learning and a curiosity of places and people brought great richness to Lang’s life through travels across the globe. She held a special fondness for England, to which she returned again and again. Through all of this, however, it was Vermont which remained at the center of her life providing a “love of place” and the solidity of home and family.
Between 1986 and June 2018, she enriched the state of Vermont with her work for the Vermont Humanities Council as a leader of countless book discussions and through first-person presentations of Beatrix Potter, Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Agatha Christie.
She received great satisfaction from maintaining leadership roles and active participation in numerous professional organizations, including the UVM Retired Faculty and Administrative Officers, the Association of Retired Faculty in Higher Education, the Vermont Historical Society, Friends of the State House, Vermont Preservation Roundtable, D.K.G. Honor Society, PEO Chapter C, Antique Wooden Boat Society and Trinity Church in Shelburne. After her retirement from UVM, she derived great pleasure working as a docent at Shelburne Museum, and at April Cornell in Burlington.
The greatest love of her life was her family: husband Richard D. Lang with whom she was married for 62 years; their three sons and daughters-in-law Dustin (and Christine) of South Carolina and Vermont; Larson (and Catherine) of Glendale, Mo., and Derryl (Jennifer) of Hong Kong and Vermont. Her five grandchildren brought her great joy and pride: Alden and Charlotte in Hong Kong; Meredith in Glendale, Mo.; Taylor in Vermont, and Catherine in Boston.
In lieu of donations and in honor of her reverence of words, literature and reading, at her request, please read a book or give the gift of a book to a child.
A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held at All Souls Interfaith Gathering, 291 Bostwick Farm Road, Shelburne, Vt., on Tuesday Sept. 25, at 2 p.m.