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We were saddened to hear of the passing of our mother’s dearest childhood friend. Mom forgets much these days but never her treasured memories of all the fun (and mischief) she and Helen shared growing up together in Fernandina. We extend our condolences to all her family. Our loss is Heaven’s gain.
May God bless Aunt Helen on her way to heaven, and special prays for the family .
My most treasured memory is being trained by Ms. Helen in the care of the Amelia Island Lighthouse. I couldn't help until 2009 when I was accepted into the Coast Guard Auxiliary. On July 4th, Helen and I worked through the checklist as we climbed to the watch-room. Once there, I was able to join her in the lantern room and together we used soft cotton-rags to dust the 8 bull's-eyes and 312 prisms in the 100+ year old 3rd-order Fresnel lens. Mesmerized by the beauty of the lens, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Ms. Helen watching me like a hawk as she also dusted. I will always remember her stating "this is my lighthouse" and I will try my best to honor her mantra as I care for our lighthouse.
Helen O’Hagan Sintes, 89, a native and current resident of Fernandina Beach, passed away on January 19th, 2023 at the Warner Care Center.
She was a sweet loving mother of six and wife to Frank (Jay) Sintes for nearly 54 years. Helen is also known as the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, as both her father and grandfather were lighthouse keepers at Amelia. She loved to share her stories about growing up at the lighthouse and called it home for the first 20 years of her life.
Helen was a long-time member of St. Michael Catholic Church where she received all of her sacraments. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and looked to her for spiritual guidance as a mother.
Helen’s Catholic education began at St. Joseph’s Academy. She attended Fernandina Beach High School and enjoyed reunions with the class of ’51. She began her college years at Sacred Heart College (Cullman, AL) and received her B.A. in education at Dominican College in New Orleans, LA.
Helen met Frank on a blind date at a Dominican dance. Together they raised six children in the faith and made their home in New Orleans. Summer vacations meant visiting family and enjoying the beach here on Amelia Island. She embraced the culture of New Orleans and blended it with her FL heritage. Upon Frank’s retirement, they moved back in 1998 to Fernandina. She joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and was appointed as Lighthouse Keeper, leading teams to care for the light and share stories from her childhood.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband Frank (2009), daughter Sharon Williams (2007) and granddaughter Sarah Anne Cano (1987).
She leaves behind by her children, Thomas, Fernandina Beach; Erin and Raymond Cano, Karen and Alcide Thonn, Slidell, LA; Kathleen and Will Toups, Bay St. Louis, MS; Stephen Sintes, Denver, CO; Troy Williams, Patterson, GA and Jay’s brother, Leonard Sintes, Gastonia, NC. Grandchildren include Kelley Sintes, Ryan and Rebecca Cano, Jennifer, Suzanne and Nicole Thonn, Caroline and Rachel Toups and Julie and Eric Trott. Great grands are Liam and Amelia Trott.
The family will receive friends and family at 10 a.m. Thursday, January 26th at St. Michael Catholic Church prior to the Mass of Resurrection at 11 a.m.
Helen will be laid to rest in Bosque-Bello Cemetery following the service.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Michael Academy or the Warner Care Center. The family is eternally grateful to all home health aides, nurses and hospice care staff at The Lakeside and at the Warner Care Center.