Helen J. Paglia
May 26, 1924 – February 11, 2018
Helen J. Paglia, age 93, of Newark, DE and formerly of New Castle, passed away peacefully with her daughter by her side at Manor Care Health Services in Pike Creek on February 11, 2018.
The seventh of 12 children, Helen was born on her parent’s farm in Niles, Ohio. She was responsible for tending to the goats and she had fond memories of helping her father build a chicken coop. Helen was nicknamed “Honey” by her family at an early age because she was so sweet and everybody loved her.
Being a free spirited, independent woman, wanderlust struck as a young teen when she and a girlfriend (also named Helen) just “took off” for parts unknown – hitchhiking and finding work as waitresses, working their way down to Roanoke VA, where the girls stayed for a while with the friend’s parents.
Helen returned to Niles, OH at the age of 17 when World War II broke out in 1941. She took a job as a welder at the Shipyard on the Allegheny River. Helen was considered of the best welders with “nice, straight smooth welds”.
Later Helen moved to Holland Michigan, pairing up with her sister Rose, whose husband went to serve in WWII. Helen worked in a ball-bearing factory and Rose worked in a glass factory. Rose and Helen didn’t stay long though. They hit the road traveling South and East, working jobs as waitresses until they eventually settled in Wilmington, DE. It was there where Helen met Ralph, who had just returned from WWII where he served with the First Marine Division in the South Pacific and Guadalcanal. Ralph fell in love with Helen, but Helen returned once more to Niles OH. Ralph wrote many love letters to Helen while she stayed with her sister Josephine.
In 1945, Helen returned to Wilmington, Delaware and began dating Ralph again. The couple was married in June and lived with Ralph’s mother until 1953, when they bought their house in Chelsea Estates in New Castle, where they raised their two children. After Ralph passed away in 1979, Helen continued to live an independent life in Chelsea, until moving in with her daughter in 2011.
A devout catholic, Helen was a member of Our Lady of Fatima Church since the family moved to New Castle. While her children attended school there, she volunteered at the rectory and at bingo. After her daughter started school, she was employed as an office worker for the Manpower Development and Training Center and then Gulf Oil Corporation before retiring on disability in 1976 with severe osteoporosis.
During her senior years, she loved to travel, taking many trips to Europe as well as Las Vegas. Helen especially enjoyed playing the slot machines during her weekly jaunts to Delaware Park. For many years she treasured the time spent with her dearest friends playing cards and bingo weekly. She was a longtime member of the Oak Grove Senior Center in Elsmere and the New Castle Senior Center. She also enjoyed taking many casino bus trips with the Claymore Senior Center in Wilmington.
Helen is predeceased by her parents, Michael and Anna Martorana; two brothers (Joseph and Russell), eight sisters (Mary, Santa, Josephine, Frances, Phyllis, Rose, Jackie, and Angie); and her beloved husband, Ralph Alphonse Paglia.
She is survived by her son, Ralph Fred Paglia (Mary) of San Antonio, TX, and her daughter, Nina Paglia Urban (Joseph); her granddaughter, Gena Paglia Kirby Castillo; her step-grandson Matthew Urban; her great grandchildren, Christopher Max Kirby, Fisher Tate Kirby, and Grace Elizabeth Urban whom she loved dearly; her brother Richard Martorana of West Hyattsville, MD; and many nieces and nephews.
Helen’s children wish to thank the nurses and staff for the compassionate care given to their Mom while at Heartland Hospice and Manor Care Health Services in Pike Creek, and The Lorelton Assisted Living in Wilmington.
Friends and family are invited to a visitation from 10 am to 11 am on February 19, 2018 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 801 North DuPont Blvd, New Castle, where Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11 am. Entombment will follow in Cathedral Cemetery, 2400 Lancaster Avenue, Wilmington, DE.