Helen T. McNelis, a 50-year resident of Trucksville and former resident of Pittston, left this world unexpectedly Wednesday morning, May 22, 2013, to join her beloved husband, Lee.
To say Helen loved life would be the understatement of the century. Most recently, she celebrated a milestone birthday, attended the 40th birthday celebration of her grandson, Jordan ("Joby"), as well as the graduation of her grandson, Sean, from Georgetown University. Helen was looking forward to attending her granddaughter Cassidy's upcoming graduation from high school.
A daughter of the late Leo Pace and Catherine O'Rourke Pace, Helen was born in Pittston on Dec. 14. Although a Back Mountain resident for many years and a loved neighbor there, she simply adored the town where she grew up and remained a proud and loyal former resident for all of her life.
Helen was a 1945 graduate of Pittston High School, where she served as captain of the majorettes. She was also very active at the polling stations in Pittston on Election Day.
Mrs. McNelis was a member of St. Therese's Church, Shavertown, where she often graced the bake sales there with her scrumptious homemade pies. St. Therese of the Little Flower was her favorite saint and she regularly said novenas to her. In addition, Danny Thomas' St. Jude Children's Hospital was very dear to her heart.
Helen loved to entertain, get together with her many friends and simply had the most beautiful blue eyes one could ever gaze upon. She loved music and knew the words to every old-time sing along and Irish song.
Deeply associated with her Irish heritage, Helen was an avid Notre Dame football fan, as well as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Donegal Society of Wilkes-Barre and a member of the Pittston chapter of The Jacqueline's Society. She, along with a multitude of friends and family members, would never think of missing the annual Irish Fall Festival Weekend held in North Wildwood, N.J., along with the Classic Car Weekend where she loved admiring sharp-looking cars. With the possible exception of her lavish Christmas Day spreads, St. Patrick's Day was Helen's favorite holiday. She was as synonymous with it as shamrocks and leprechauns.
Helen maintained her parents' graves right up until the end and had plans on doing that this Memorial Day weekend. She was extremely proud to be an American, had the utmost respect for our armed forces and even maintained the graves of unknown soldiers when time allowed.
If Helen could speak for herself, she would undoubtedly prefer us to celebrate the many years we were lucky enough to spend with her instead of mourning her loss.
In addition to her parents, Helen was preceded in death by her husband and best friend, Lee McNelis; siblings, Claire Kling, DeLores Lynott, Ann O'Brien and Leo, William and Harry Pace; and son-in-law, John Versari, her own son as far as Helen was concerned, with whom she shared her birthday with.
She is survived by her daughters, Sharon Versari, Trucksville; Cathy and husband, Dr. Paul J. Witt, Dallas; and Licia and husband, Dr. Robert Guilday, Wallingford; grandchildren, Jordan, Keriellen, P.J., Licia, Sean, Caili, Cassidy, Quinn and Robbie; great-granddaughter, Maddie McEvoy; numerous nieces and nephews, including Billy Pace, Wilkes-Barre, and Leo Pace, Maryland, whom she considered her own children, and Joseph and David Pace, whom she considered grandchildren.
The funeral will be held at 9:15 a.m. Saturday from Corcoran Funeral Home Inc., 20 S. Main St., Plains Township, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Therese's Church, Shavertown, with the Rev. James J. Paisley, pastor, officiating. Entombment will be held in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Carverton section of Wyoming. Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Danny Thomas' St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 N. Lauderdale, Memphis, TN 38105, or to St. Therese's Church, 64 Davis St., Shavertown, PA 18708.
Online condolences may be made at www.corcoranfuneralhome.com