FALL RIVER, MASS. – Vida B. Hellmann, a retired educator and most recently a professional storyteller, died Nov. 22 at the Fall River Jewish Home. Born in Fall River, a daughter of the late Abraham and Nellie (Feldman) Branz, she had lived throughout Rhode Island and finally back in Fall River.
A graduate of Russell Sage, and with a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island, as an educator, Vida taught every level through graduate courses. She taught at South County Hebrew School. A member of South County Players, she starred in “Harvey” and “Plaza Suite.” For 10 years, she was a master teacher of English as a Second Language, giving workshops before retiring from the Los Angeles School District in 1990. As a professional storyteller “for grown-ups” she appeared in festivals in Newport, New London, Hartford and Boston as well as in Toronto Canada, where she was featured on CBC’s radio program, “Cloud Nine.”
Vida was a member of Temple Habonim, Adas Israel, the Little Rest Storytellers, the Connecticut Story Telling Center, Lanes (the League of New England Storytellers), the National Storytelling Network and the Boston Jewish Storytelling Network.
Vida is survived by a daughter, Dvorah Kaufman, and her husband, Tom, of Madison, Wisconsin; two sons, Benjamin Hellmann and his partner, Karen, of Fall River and Joel Hellmann, of East Providence; a sister, the late Phyllis Ainspan, and her surviving husband, Martin, of Albany, New York; seven grandchildren: Noah Kaufman, Zachary Kaufman, Sara, Andrea Lee, Joshua, Gabby, Ryan Hellmann.
Contributions in her memory may be made to your favorite charity or Sara M. Ainspan Memorial Israel Scholarship, c/o Temple Israel, 600 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208, in memory of Vida’s niece, or U.S. Holocaust Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, DC 20024-2126.