Helen B. Darrow, 94, owner of a restaurant and other businesses in Chestnut Hill, died June 10 at Fairview Nursing Home in Chestnut Hill after suffering a hip fracture in March of this year.
In 1981 Mrs. Darrow opened Saucie, an intimate restaurant on Germantown Ave. that quickly became a Chestnut Hill favorite. Ten years later, overwhelmed by the demands of the business, she decided to close the restaurant and retire.
Earlier, in the 1960s, Mrs. Darrow and a close friend, Coleen Labbe, opened a ski shop in Chestnut Hill called The Wedel (named for a skiing maneuver). Although some in the ski industry were at first skeptical of two women operating a ski shop, the proprietors’ success proved them wrong.
Philadelphia Magazine called The Wedel “the only X-rated ski shop in Philly: exclusive, extraordinary and expensive.”
When discount shops began to sell ski equipment, The Wedel’s owners couldn’t compete, and they closed the shop in 1980.
Before opening the restaurant, Mrs. Darrow had baked for several upscale restaurants and had operated a catering business.
Bored in retirement, Mrs. Darrow, at 76, joined the retail staff at the Pendleton store at the Top of the Hill, remaining until the store closed 2004. One week later, at 83, she was working at The Bone Appetit, an upscale canine boutique at 8517 Germantown Ave, She continued to work there until she was unable to be on her feet for long periods of time.
In an interview in the Chestnut Hill Local of Sept. 23, 2004, Mrs. Darrow, who lived in Chestnut Hill, said, “You have to have a zest for life.”
She added: “Love the beautiful things, the ugly things, the sad things, the joyous things – just love it. That, as far as I’m concerned, is a very important part of growing old with some kind of dignity.”
Mrs. Darrow is survived by a daughter, Diane McGuire; a granddaughter, Jennifer Kuruc; a grandson, Jonathan McGuire, and four great-grandchildren. Her former husband, David Darrow, died in 1989.
Funeral services were held June 15 at Har Nebo Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. Memorial donations may be made to the Pennsylvania SPCA. – WF