Welcome to the memorial page for

Helen E. McElroy

August 20, 1929 ~ October 3, 2017 (age 88)

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Mass of Christian Burial
October 14, 2017

10:00 AM
St Thomas Aquinas Church
1719 Post Road
Fairfield, CT

Interment following funeral service
October 14, 2017

St. Michael's Cemetery
2205 Stratford Ave.
Stratford, CT 06614

Helen McElroy, a longtime Fairfield resident who worked as a stylist in New York City before traveling the globe hobnobbing with world leaders, celebrities and spies as the wife and confidant of a U.S. intelligence operative, has died. She was 88. Helen died last Tuesday at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut due to complications following a stroke, according to her son, Thomas McElroy. “Her presence will be deeply missed. She led an adventurous life full of great conversation, laughter and food, and the cocktail hour was her favorite time of day,” her son said. As an only child, Helen was born Helen Ewald in the Yorkville section of Manhattan in 1929 to German immigrants. Her family later moved to Valley Stream, Long Island where she graduated from Central High School. Helen began her career in the early 1950s as a stylist for several top fashion photographers in Manhattan, where she rubbed shoulders with the glitterati of the day, including Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack as they held court at the legendary Copacabana nightclub. In 1957, Helen married the late James T. McElroy, a Georgetown University graduate recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to help operate several clandestine airlines in Asia, including Civil Air Transport and Air America. The couple relocated to Taipei, Taiwan where Helen spent many years providing diplomatic cover for her husband by leading charity drives and hosting gatherings for VIPs and government officials, including Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the wife of the former president of the Republic of China. “Helen was very proud of her service to her country, especially the home-cooked Thanksgiving dinners she gave to young American soldiers on R&R leave during the Vietnam War,” said her daughter-in-law, Mary Anne McElroy. “She always wondered if they survived the war.” Helen was also stationed in Vientiane, Laos as the nearby conflict raged to a climax, often providing comfort to the wives of countless American pilots shot down during the war. In 1973, Helen’s family moved back to the U.S. where they settled in Fairfield. She later worked for many years in advertising sales at Brooks Community Newspapers in Westport, Conn.  She is survived by three sons, James A. McElroy of Seal Beach, Calif., Thomas F. McElroy of New York City, Michael C. McElroy of Fairfield, Conn., two grandchildren, Mary Anne Gloth of Arlington, Virginia and James F. McElroy of New York City, and an expectant great grandchild.  Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 10:00am meeting directly  at St. Thomas Aquinas, 1719 Post Rd., Fairfield with a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will follow in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Stratford. To send online condolences please visit

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