Helen C. Oktavec, 91, bookkeeper, homemaker

February 19, 2005

Helen C. Oktavec, a homemaker who had been the bookkeeper for family grocery businesses, died of heart disease Feb. 11 at St. Agnes HealthCare. The Pasadena resident was 91.

Born Helen Cecelia Belada in Baltimore, she was raised in Curtis Bay, where her father owned two grocery stores. She earned a diploma in 1930 from Strayer's Business College. She studied bookkeeping, typing and shorthand, and worked at a downtown furniture store.

During the Depression, she joined her father at his grocery businesses on Curtis Avenue and at Pennington Avenue and Filbert Street. She volunteered as a nurse during World War II after taking a training course.

In 1946, she married William A. Oktavec Jr., a Veterans Administration medical technologist whose father was regarded as the originator of Baltimore's painted-screen tradition.

The couple lived for many years on Lyndale Avenue in the Belair-Edison neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore, where she belonged to Shrine of the Little Flower Roman Catholic Church and its sodality. Her husband died in 1993, and she moved to Pasadena about a decade ago.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church, 4708 Prudence St. in Curtis Bay, where she was a member.

Survivors include a son, Dr. William J. Oktavec of St. Augustine, Fla.; a daughter, Barbara M. Oktavec DeWar of Pasadena; a sister, Bessie H. Johnson of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

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