Helen E. BertasMay 17, 2017
HELEN E. BERTAS – ATTORNEY, TEACHER AND CHURCH LEADER
Helen E. Bertas, Esquire, former practitioner of law and faculty member at Drexel University died peacefully on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at age 96 in Bryn Mawr, PA. She was a past leader in the Philadelphia Bar Association and an active leader in St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church and other social and professional organizations. She had a distinguished career in the law in Philadelphia and was recognized on numerous occasions for her many achievements.
Ms. Bertas was the first female lawyer of Greek descent to enter the legal profession in Philadelphia, paving the way for many who followed her. It was in that “man’s world” that Helen’s standard of excellence, skill, drive, dependability, organization and incredible work ethic stood out. She was a courageous advocate on behalf of her clients and a leader in progressive causes. Helen had endless energy, and was often referred to as “little dynamo.”
Among her many contributions, she served as the National President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, President and Board Member of the Hellenic University Club, President of the St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church Parish Council, Legal Council for the Church and Council Member for the Church for many years. She also served as President and Legal Council for St. Luke’s Ladies Philoptochos Society.
She was an Associate Professor of Law at Drexel University where she taught for many years. She was often described as “tough” – but was very popular with students. In 2015, the LeBow College of Business established a Teaching Wall of Fame to honor faculty who have had a lasting impression on their students. In recognition of her achievements in teaching, Ms. Bertas was one of four faculty in the initial cohort selected to receive this honor.
Ms. Bertas practiced law for many years at her law firm of Budd and Bertas. She rose to partner in the firm and to leadership in the Philadelphia Bar and nationally among immigration lawyers.
She received the Metal of St. Paul, the highest honor given by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In June 2005, the Hellenic Lawyers Association of Philadelphia honored her with a Lifetime of Achievement award.
Ms. Bertas graduated from Drexel University in June 1942 with a degree in Business Administration. She received her L.L.B. from Temple University in June 1950 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association in December 1950.
She is survived by her 2 sisters, Mary B. Rennis and Anne B. Trivelis, five nieces and nephews (Deborah Hartnett (Bill), Denise Rennis, Jamie Rennis, Barbara Maroney (Harvey) and Nicholas Trivelis (Robin)), one great- niece, two great-nephews and one great- great -niece. She was pre-deceased in death by her sister Sophie and her nephew James Rennis.
Helen was a wonderful and generous friend and shared her legal expertise with family and friends whenever needed. She truly was a “Little Dynamo.”