A photo of Helena Toomer

Helena Toomer

February 27, 1947 - January 30, 2021

Helena Toomer, age 73, of New Castle, DE, died on Saturday, January 30, 2021.

Born in Philadelphia, PA on February 27, 1947, she was a daughter of the late Tennis Hirtlee Hagins and Mabel Thomas Hagins. Mrs. Toomer was a 1965 business admissions and retail sales graduate of Edward Bok Tech in Philadelphia, PA. She would go on to enjoy a diverse and interesting career that drew on her many talents and passions. A truly gifted R&B singer, Mrs. Toomer was a well-known recording artist in the early 1960s. Patti LaBelle took an early interest in her career, and introduced her to her own manager. Ms. LaBelle arranged for Mrs. Toomer to sing with and for some of the most important figures in local music at the time, including Danny and the Juniors, Pat Marioni, Bill and Tilly Holmes, Tommy Bell, Morris Bailey and Bobby Martin. She recorded for music labels, Rugby and Virtue, under her stage names, “Marva Lee” and “Helena Troy.”

As a political activist and human rights advocate, Mrs. Toomer was a pioneer in welfare reform along with fellow organizers, Roxanne Jones and Jean Harvey Thomas. During her years on the Philadelphia political stage, she worked side-by-side with many influential policy-makers. Some of those Mrs. Toomer partnered with were former senator, Hardy Williams; attorneys, Stephen Josel and Lewis Small; state representative, Thaddeus Kirkland; the late Judge William Brown, Sr.; and Roberta Hartshorn. In Delaware, she was aided by Senator Harris McDowell and State Representative James Johnson. Because of Mrs. Toomer’s many significant efforts on behalf of the less fortunate, she was featured in a news story about human rights heroes by reporter, Doug Shimmell, on Channel 10 television several years ago.

She was raised in a Christian home and lived a Christian life of love, charity and compassion. An active member of the Evangelistic Temple of Truth for many years, Mrs. Toomer was deeply loved and respected by her church family.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Anthony Nathaniel Toomer; daughter, Randi Bernice Robinson-Toomer; son, Jerome Jabil Ballard; special son, Frank Potter; sister, Doris A. Hagins; special sister, Mother Gladys Mathis; brother-in-law, James Melvin; aunt, Julia Potter; uncle, Karl Tyler, Sr.; and special friend, Terrence W. Beck. Mrs. Toomer is survived by her step-children, Nathaniel Person, Harriet Howie, Nadine Hogan-Snow, Stephen Ballard, Stephanie Ballard, Amelia Ballard, Gregory Lee Robinson, Jr., Paige Robinson and Darren Robinson; godchildren, Andrea Beck, Dominique Potter, Shelly Parker, Corrin Helena Moses, Omar Hayes, Jaquan Brooks and Christian Williams; daughters-in-law, Lorraine Ballard and Peggy Ann Person; sister, Joyce A. Truett; special sisters, Verda Jackson, Theresa Ferguson, Judith Hughes, Dorothy McNeal and Valerie Burton; brother, Rev. Paul Hagins, Sr.; brother-in-law, Will McLaughlin; sisters-in-law, Evelyn Toomer Hailey, Sr., Mary Lois McClain and Annie Ruth Toomer; aunt, Ella Mae Frederick; great aunt, Mary Weatherly; cousin, Betty Jane McClenton; special caregiver and beloved cousin, Keisha McClenton; church family, Deacon and Sister Hall and Pastor and Sister Ellis; extended family, the Hagins, Thomas and Weatherbee families; special friends, Bessie O. Beck and her family and Deene Beck; close friend of the family, James L. Stewart; all family in Swanwyck Estates; former husband, Gregory Lee Robinson, Sr.; special Bayada health aides, Esta Williams, Sharon Robinson, and Kim; and many adopted children and grandchildren.

The family extends their sincere gratitude to the wonderful doctors who cared for Mrs. Toomer. In Delaware, her special doctors were Dr. Pasquale Fucci, Dr. Thomas Evans, Dr. Seth Ivins, Dr. Hassan Ali, Dr. Townsend, Dr. Robert Delose, Dr. Yahati, Dr. Albert lannucci and the late Dr. Jonathan Kama; in Chester, PA, she was cared for by Dr. Orroco, Dr. Haith, Dr. Goldman and Dr. Eric Johnson.

All services will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Mrs. Toomer to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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16 Condolences for Helena Toomer

  • Helena Toomer was a wonderful human being. I came to know and love her as my big sister and dear friend. Her spirit was one of giving to others. She was thoughtful and compassionate and never made it about her. I miss her so much. May she rest in peace, and I look forward to seeing her again on the other side.

  • Mom you will be missed, I will always hold you near and dear to me. I love you

  • I didn’t think you would be gone this soon. I always told you that he wasn’t ready for you yet. Well it looks like he’s ready for you now mom. I know you are at peace now. You are with Deacon Toomer and Randi now. I was your aide at first. Then I became apart of your family and you became apart of my family. Mom I miss are talks that we had and all of our laughs. The boys miss you too. You will always be in my heart and deeply missed. I love you ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • Awaiting your birthday this year thought I would here your voice and get a good ole laugh. Such an down to earth strong women of God. Thank you for everything WE❤U😇😘

  • Ms. Duckii, it’s so much I can say. My heart 💔 becomes so heavy when I began. You had a heart of gold always so ready to give your absolute last to put a smile on someone face. I didn’t think that your time was so close. I have so many memories of the good times that I will always cherish. Thanks for always being there for all of my babies and for me. I Love You 💕 Forever your Lamb 🐑♥️💜😘🙏🏽

  • Ms.Duckii you will be so missed. Thank you for being the best neighbor and loving my little boy. It won’t be the same without you on the street 👼🏼💞

  • Ms. Duckii. Words cant express how the hurt I felt when I heard of your passing. I miss you terribly. You are one of the most loving person I know. Thank you for the unconditional giving and love you expressed to our family. We love you forever.

  • My big Cousin! There’s no one else like you…a fiery, feisty, cool gem! Thanks for listening to me…and for just being you. Love you. Rest well!

  • We didn’t know we visit you about 3-4 weeks ago it would be our last time seeing you over 20yrs we were friends Floyd Darlene Felicia and our grandchildren we love you and your many stories of your life! We will Miss you and your dog Bear RIP we will smile when we think of you goodbye for now!!!!!!

  • I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of my Cousin and much prayer goes out to my extended family

  • You will be missed!

  • My condolences to family, friends, & loveones. She was my spiritual mother for many years from when I met Pop ( greenback nursing home ) where I worked, then Randy, then Mom Toomer it was love from the start it never change that was my mom an I’LL TRULY MISS HER Love Mom T Rest in Peace Rest in Power I Love you, Love Always your so Mo

  • Mom where do I start. me and Jaquan are completely Heartbroken. There are no words to explain how we are feeling. What an amazing woman you were. Always willing to go the extra mile to help anyone in need. In our last conversation I remember telling you we were going to come see you as soon as I had some time to take off. You were always so worried about us when in turn we always worried about you. Just know we will always miss you. You will forever be in our hearts. As the tears flow, I will always remember the love you gave to both me and Jaquan.

  • Happy birthday mom!!
    You are sadly and deeply missed

  • May my dear auntie rest in peace so sorry to hear that she passed away I knew nothing to my knowledge of it until now rest well auntie ❤️

  • My aunt helena would say “God loves you and so do I”. Very, very sad that we(Greens+truetts)were not informed of my oldest aunt’s passing..we will always remember and love you more than anyone knows. May you rest in eternal peace auntie!!🙏🙏