Helen Skelos met the love of her life as a teenager, while working at her uncle's diner.
"It's like out of a movie," said Nicholas Skelos of Lynbrook, her husband of nearly four decades. "We did everything together."
Helen, the oldest child, was helping to support her family; her father had just died.
"I had dropped out of college to go to the Culinary Institute; I took a job at her uncle's diner and she worked there," Nicholas Skelos said. The former chef, now a food service manager, was referring to Hyde Park's Culinary Institute of America.
Both he and his bride, a Merrick native, came from Greek Orthodox families and regularly attended services.
"There was nothing fake about her," he said. "She was very real, and she made everybody feel special; she had a tremendous amount of friends, close friends."
Helen Skelos died Tuesday, 5½ weeks after she was struck by a pickup truck while crossing a Mineola street, Nassau police said. She was 60.
The accident occurred just a short distance from NYU Winthrop Hospital, where she worked for 15 years, mainly in human resources.
"She found the good in people and every day demonstrated the qualities of an outstanding employee — one who put her heart and soul into her job. People mattered to Helen, which is why the Hospital was a natural setting in which she thrived," said John Collins, president and chief executive officer of NYU Langone Health in a letter to employees.
NYU Langone Health owns the Mineola hospital.
Nicholas Skelos said of his wife: "She was comfortable with anybody ... a cleaning lady, a garbage man, an attorney, a politician. She was always very comfortable in her own skin — and more than that, she always made people very comfortable around her, whoever they were. It was a gift."
Helen Skelos graduated from Nassau Community College. Tennis, travel and sailing out East were among her favorite pursuits.
After the Sept. 13 accident, "I knew we were hoping for a miracle," her husband said. Though it was not to be, he said. Winthrop Hospital's doctors, nurses and other staffers, from security guards to cafeteria workers, treated them like family.
"It's made such an impression on me," he said, having observed the nurses' meticulous care and compassion day after day. "It's humbling, it really is."
The experience led Nicholas Skelos to ask that any donations be sent the hospital's Nursing Student Program in his wife's memory, with the aim of helping individual students.
In addition to her husband, Helen Skelos is survived by two sons, Basil and George; her mother, Markela Boulukos; a brother, Peter; and a sister, Valerie Bouris; and her brother-in-law, Dean Skelos, the former State Senate majority leader.
Visiting is scheduled for Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. at Rockville Centre's Thomas A. Glynn & Son Funeral Home. The funeral will be Friday at 10 a.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul.
Helen Skelos' remains will be interred at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.