Helen Z. Pearl

Helen Z. Pearl passed away after a long battle with cancer with her family at her bedside on October 4, 2015. She was the daughter of Col. George Zalkan, who in the 1970's served as Director of Health of the capital City of New Britain, CT. and daughter of Harriet Libman Zalkan, a medical Social Worker who became a bridge Lifemaster at age seventy-five. Helen moved fourteen times while growing up and, despite attending a different school in a different state each year of high school, she was awarded a full tuition scholarship to Vassar College, where she won the prize as the most outstanding economics major and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After her husband's discharge from active military duty, they drove around Europe for five months, before returning to Jason's hometown of New Britain, CT, where they lived for fifty two years before moving to Duncaster, a Life Care Community in Bloomfield, CT. While in New Britain, Helen was active in the community, becoming President of the local branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) and then head of the Status of Women Committee for the state board of AAUW, debating and lobbying for the equal rights amendment and co-authoring "a Study of the Participation of Women of the Decision Making Positions in the Governmental Structure of the State of CT". The state division of AAUW named its fellowship donation in Helen's honor. Helen also served as the second woman appointed to the local Finance Board and represented the City of New Britain on the Central CT. Regional Planning Agency for thirty years, including presiding as chairperson during the agency's twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. Helen was most proud of two of her particular feminist achievements: (1) "Founding Mother" of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women of the State of CT.; she suggested the idea to the state legislator who first sponsored it; helped to draft the statutory langiage; testified and lobbied on its behalf; and it passed the very first year it was introduced and despite multiple efforts to defund and/or eliminate it, it remains viable forty two years later. Pearl also served as a Commissioner for seven years. (2) State Chairperson of the bi-partisan, state-wide political committee campaigning successfully for passage of a state constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination on account of sex (1974) (otherwise known as a state ERA). Meanwhile Helen served as the feminist representative to the Minority Advisory Board at the local CBS affiliate (channel 3) and was the first female chairperson, was on the board of the CT. Women's Political Caucus, and was appointed by the Governor to the Solid Waste Management Advisory Council to the CT. Resource Recovery Authority, worked as an assistant campaign manager for local, state, and national candidates, participated in two private book discussion groups, was a host family for international visitors, all the while working as a marketing research analyst and then as a managerial statistician at Landers, Frary and Clark, a part-time real-estate broker and self-employed property manager. She also served two separate five year terms as an officer of her Vassar Alumnae Class. When the youngest of three children started first grade, Helen started Law School full time. She practiced law and Weber and Marshall, later Weber, Marshall and Thompson, then Weber and Carrier in New Britain for thirty five years, retiring on her seventy fifth birthday. She primarily was a family lawyer, representing as many men as women, served as a Special Master in New Britain and Hartford Superior Courts conducting pretrials, and in recent years served as counsel on the national board of the Veteran Feminists of America. She has been active with the League of Women Voters and for the twelve years before moving from New Britain, she was president or co-president of the New Britain League of Women Voters. Helen also served on the state ethics committee. For eleven years she was on the Human Resources Agency (local CAP agency). After moving to Duncaster, in between multiple surgeries, Helen continued her active participation in her community and became first vice president of the Duncaster Residents Association and chairperson of the Capital Public Issues Committee. World travel has also been important to her and her husband and they shared trips from Alaska to Antarctica, from Russia to Bali, Thailand to Switzerland, and five trips to Africa. It has always been important to Helen to be fully participating in the community, state, and country in which she lived, a survival skill she learned while frequently moving around as a child. She had leadership roles and served on many various of the committees, too numerous to mention, throughout the years. However, Helen's greatest joy has always been her pleasure received from her family, especially her husband and grandchildren, and her many friends. She will be sorely missed and fondly remembered. She is survived by her brother, Dr. Robert L. Zalkan and his wife Kaye, of North Carolina and their children Todd and Julie. She and her husband, Jason E. Pearl, the love of her life and best friend were married in France in 1959 and together they shared fifty six years of togetherness and life experiences. They have three children and six grandchildren: Gary M. Pearl and his wife Leora Cope of Walnut Creek, CA., David Pearl and Melissa Pearl; Esther Rubin Corcoran, her husband Mark, and children Alyssa Rubin and Aaron Rubin of Southington , CT. ; and Lawrence (Larry) J. Pearl, his wife Stacy and children Carly Pearl and Leah Pearl of Freehold Township, New Jersey. A memorial service will be held at Duncaster Life Care Community, 40 Loeffler Road, Bloomfield, CT. on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory should be made to the Helen Z. Pearl Internship in Feminist Law, c/o University of CT. Law School Foundation, 55 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT.

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