American Veteran 04

Helene Esther (Bastian) Foltis

December 15, 1936 ~ October 15, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Helene Foltis Obituary

Helene Esther Foltis, 86, of Kinston, North Carolina, passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 15, 2023, at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, North Carolina. She was born on December 15, 1936, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; she remained there for most of her childhood until she and her family re-located to the state of Georgia. Helene was preceded in death by her father, Samuel Bastian; her mother, Betty Ohnmeiss; her brother, Jack Bastian; her beloved husband, Constantine “Connie” Foltis; and many cherished pets, including “Sassy” and “Baby.” She is survived by her son, Joseph Anthony Rizzo and daughter-in-law, Beth Rizzo; her daughter, Debra Anne Rizzo Rogers and son-in-law, Rock Rogers; her daughter, Laura Beth Winstead and son-in-law, Clint Winstead; two nieces; eight grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

At the age of seventeen, Helene enlisted in the United States Navy where she briefly served as a telegraph operator until she took a 24-year post as a faithful military wife to Anthony “Tony” Henry Rizzo. Her duties consisted of raising three children and supporting her then-husband throughout his career; it was in this season Helene perfected her skills in hospitality and being a generous hostess. As a family, they served in Virginia, Ireland, California, Scotland, Alaska, Maryland, and Texas.

At the age of 41 and newly divorced, Helene moved to Virginia, and re-created herself as a Maritime retirement counselor in the District of Columbia, being quickly promoted until she was at the top of her agency. Eventually, she encountered Constantine “Connie” Foltis. The two fell in love, married, and Helene resumed the role of dutiful wife and partner as the two encountered countless adventures that span over two decades. Their first adventure began in Arlington, Virginia, where they entertained family members, friends, and became the neighborhood hangout for all local squirrels. Eventually, the two would trade a life on land for the open seas. Departing from Beaufort, North Carolina, the two newlyweds set sail aboard their sailboat, affectionately known as “Nightwind.” Over the next three years, Helene and Connie would sail along the East Coast, between Shelter Island and the Bahamas. They eventually set anchor to care for Helene’s mother in the quiet town of Palatka, Florida, where they remained until Connie’s passing in 2011.

Helene lived out the rest of her days completing puzzles, coloring, reading, playing board games or cards among friends and loved ones in Florida and, finally, in North Carolina. Her charisma only grew with the years; no matter the environment, she had a way of adding to it, influencing and attracting everyone she encountered. She knew how to laugh at a good joke, at life, and even at herself. She mastered the art of storytelling. As a self-proclaimed mixologist, she could make a good drink. She was sentimental to a fault. She relentlessly looked for creative ways to serve others through her talents in writing poetry, painting, embroidery, cooking, and baking. She considered quality time with loved ones to be sacred. Whether she was known as Helene, Mom, or Nana, to know her is to know she embraced life, she loved and she was loved. In the end, that is all that matters.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, October 20, 2023, at 6pm at Howard-Carter Funeral Home in Kinston, North Carolina.

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Memorial Service
October 20, 2023

6:00 PM
Howard - Carter Funeral Home
1608 W Vernon Avenue
Kinston, NC 28504


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