An Ode to Her Parents: Helen Symons ‘65

Helen Symons smiling

Helen Symons '65

By leaving UMass Amherst a parcel of Nantucket land, longtime nurse Helen Symons '65 honors her parents and the profession that allowed her to travel the globe.

In one of her first experiences as a nurse, Helen, always the thrillseeker, remembers ripping through the amazing, muddy midst of the Woodstock music festival on the back of a motorcycle. She traveled to the legendary 1969 festival to volunteer in one of the improvised emergency medicine stations-and she had a blast.

At the start of her career, she worked in a teaching hospital in Holland. She was a nurse at Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; at hospitals in California and Virginia; and at a wellness center in India. She also worked for a homeopathic doctor in London whose clients included Sting, Tina Turner and George Harrison.

Currently she is a nurse at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

An Ode to Her Parents
In the '70s, Helen bought land in Nantucket. She didn't get around to putting up the cottage she'd hoped to build someday, but over time, the property significantly appreciated. When she recently decided to subdivide it and sell three of the four lots, her accountant recommended a charitable giving arrangement to offset the tax liabilities.

After years of wanting to make a significant contribution to UMass Amherst, Helen was finally able to do so by donating real estate to a charitable remainder unitrust.

The unitrust provides her with lifetime income. After her death, the principal goes to UMass Amherst to endow the Victor E. and Elizabeth Tower Symons Nursing Scholarship, named in honor of her parents. Helen's father died when she was young, and her mother worked hard as a secretary to support her only child.

"She never took a sick day, not even when she was really sick," Helen says. "It gives me great pleasure to honor my parents with this scholarship and to do something for the profession I've enjoyed."