Born Helen Estelle Wells at her ancestors’ farm on Sound Avenue, Riverhead, N.Y., on Dec. 22, 1917, Estelle lived there for most of her first 60 years, going to Northville School and then graduating from Riverhead High School. She passed away on Dec. 21, 2020.
At Cornell University, Estelle majored in what was then called home economics, also taking courses in plumbing, electrical wiring and even the sport of fencing. College for her and her two surviving sisters was largely paid for by the peach orchard her father, Leslie T. Wells, planted for that purpose.
As a sister in Sigma Kappa sorority in the class of 1940, Estelle was enormously proud that they pledged an African American student, even though it meant decertification by Cornell.
A fellow student named Harold Evans, working as a waiter in the sorority house, looked promising, and they were married at her parents’ farm on April 22, 1941. She and Harold helped operate and later owned the farm while raising and educating four children. Both eventually taught school as well, until his illness forced them to retire. Estelle brought in the last harvest herself, driving the trucks while two longtime employees, Herbert Harris and Elizabeth Walker, ran the potato combine.
The early ’70s saw Estelle and Harold begin to move upstate to Georgetown, to his late parents’ home. After Harold’s death in 1975, Estelle stayed in Georgetown and became involved in the community. Many family holidays took place in Georgetown, and she enjoyed spending time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her declining health took her to Crouse Community Center, where she finished her days, full of stories for staff and visitors.
She leaves behind a son, Jim (Colleen), daughter-in-law Sue (widow of her son Glenn), daughter Carol Soderholm (Sid) and daughter Gail (Dave Wellen); 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Nature Conservancy or Old Steeple Community Church, Aquebogue, N.Y.
This is a paid notice.