Helen J. Paglia - Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes & Crematory

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.


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11 Condolences for Helen J. Paglia

  • Helen, you brightened up all of our holidays and you are missed more than you know.

  • My Aunt Honey was an extraordinary woman. There are many in the family who will deeply mourn her passing as she was a life of service, love, compassion and excellence.

    In my youth I spent many summers with Aunt Rose and Aunt Honey, we used to go “bumming” – that’s what they called it – which really meant going to yard-sales and flea markets 🙂 No one ever knew this – but I always cherished those visits.

    Aunt Honey and Aunt Rose, along with their parents, husbands and siblings are together again.

    I miss them all …. Arrivederci – until we meet again.

    Ti viglio bene – Zia


  • I have so many favorite moments with Mom. Most involve fun and laughter, because that’s the way Mom was. I will always miss her. -Ralph

  • Rest in peace Aunt Helen. If there are bingo games in heaven I know that Mom, Aunt Sue, and you will be together playing them.

  • My deepest sympathies to Helen’s family and friends. I only met Helen once, but it was clear she was a spitfire with a quick and targeted sense of humor. I’m sure her passing will leaving a big void at family gatherings but I hope your memories of fun times together will bring you warmth in the darkest times.

  • Nina and family, I’m so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. What a tremendous life she’s had and what great memories she has left you with! My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

  • Nina and Family,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at your time of loss. I have very fond memories of your Mom, especially good times spent together at your house in Chelsea when were we young and free. They are special memories. The best of friends may lose touch but always remain in our heart. Love to you my dear friend. — Gwen

  • Nina and family–Your mother (grandmom, aunt, grand nonni) was an amazing, spirited, and resilient woman. I loved her laugh! I hope your fondest memories of her will help you through the difficult days. What a blessing she had in you, Nina, especially this past year.

  • Nina, I am so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. Even though I never had a chance to meet her, I would only imagine who she was by the many delightful stories you shared. They reminded me of my own Mom. May the many happy memories last a lifetime and always bring a smile to you and your family.

  • Nina,

    I am very sorry to learn. Indeed she was such a lovely
    person. And now I learn she had such a wonderful life!
    God bless her. And God bless and keep your family
    always. Love, Fran

  • Helen was an amazing woman, wife, mom, sister, aunt, grandma, friend and much more. She led an amazing life as evidenced by her family, her travels, her adventures, her work, her zest for life and devotion to God. She’s with her Savior now along with her parents, husband, siblings and many friends forever and ever! We rejoice in her wonderful life, her love for all, and the many memories she leaves all of us who remain. Honey will be sorely missed by all!!