Ella Rita Helfrich
1916 - 2015
Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home
13102 North Fwy
Houston, TX
Ella Rita Helfrich
Ella Rita Helfrich, 98, left us for Heaven on July 21, 2015. Born in Michigan and raised in Louisiana, she was a long time resident of the Houston Heights. Ella Rita won second place in the 1966 Pillsbury Bakeoff for her Tunnel of Fudge Cake, which is Pillsbury's most requested recipe ever and introduced America to the Bundt pan. She showered her husband of 56 years, Carl Helfrich, and their children—Carol Ann Pontello, Patricia Evans (John), Raymond Helfrich (Ann), Mary Beth Moxley (Tom) & Rosemary McKay (George)—with love and dessert. She volunteered tirelessly at her childrens' schools (All Saints & St. Pius X). Affection and chocolate were lavished on her grandchildren: Jacqueline Pontello, Kenneth Suter, Rosanne Nikolaidis, Renee Young, Karen Friedman, Eric Helfrich, Joey Grochett, Kristie Shields, Shannon Humphrey, Christopher and Dustin Rizzo. Her passions were recipe contests and volunteering with the Diocesan Senior Senate and as Co-Founder of the Third Age Learning Center at All Saints. While Alzheimer's stole her memory, no disease could take away Ella Rita's sweet disposition and innate grace. She was preceded in death by husband Carl; adopted daughter Mary Christianson and sons-in-law Fred Pontello, Harold Grochett and Sam Gullo. Left to mourn are her children, grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, sisters, Virginia Hall and Betty Swearingen, and many treasured nieces, nephews and friends. Visitation will be held 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday, July 27, 2015, at Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home, with a Rosary to be recited at 7:00 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at All Saints Catholic Church, 215 E. 10th St., Houston, Texas 77008. Rite of Committal will follow at Earthman Resthaven Cemetery.

Published by Houston Chronicle on Jul. 26, 2015.
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5:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.
Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home
13102 North Fwy, Houston, TX
Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home
13102 North Fwy, Houston, TX
Mass of Christian Burial
All Saints Catholic Church
215 E. 10th St, Houston, TX
Earthman Resthaven Cemetery.
Funeral services provided by:
Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home
Sponsored by Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home.
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18 Entries
Today I recalled making the tunnel nut fudge cake for my teacher who was a nun at St Mary Academy in Denver, CO, back in 1966. I looked up Mrs Helfrich and her story. I was to send condolences to her family. I lived in Houston area from 1980 to 1995. I enjoy thinking that we may gave crossed paths. Deborah McKinney
Deborah McKinney
April 29, 2021
Wow! I was going to give my old Bundt pan to the Thrift Store. But decided to look and see what kind of recipes I could find on-line and found the story of Ella Rita Helfrich. What a Lady! Think I'll keep my pan now and make that Tunnel of Chocolate Cake in her honor. Rest in Peace Ella, I hope to meet you someday in Chocolate Heaven! Thanks for the Recipe!
November 8, 2015
Rosemary and family,
Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your mother. May her loving spirit always remain with you.
Toni Gusemano King
July 30, 2015
Thank you for creating one of the great pleasures of life! RIP Ms. Helfrich.
David Stroup
July 30, 2015
Rosemary, I remember your mom fondly afer all these years. Just a note from me to say that and hope you're doing well. My condolences to you and your family.
Your high school buddy,
Tony Waguespack
July 29, 2015
Aunt Sister was the epitome of grace and kindness - I was blessed to have been one of the recipients of the love she shared with so many. The last time I saw her was probably 10 years ago when she flew to Las Vegas to spend time with her sisters Betty and Virginia. I was fortunate enough to fly over and surprise them all - - what a treasured memory! She was loved and will be missed. I will keep Aunt Sister and all of her family in my prayers.
Rick and Denise Swearingen
July 28, 2015
Ella's famous cake recipe baked in our Bundt pan has brought joy and sweet delight to millions of people around the world, and we admire her contributions to the world of baking. Nordic Ware
Nordic Ware
July 28, 2015
My condolences go to her wonderful family. She was a great lady.
Mary Tallent Runnels
July 28, 2015
To Mrs. Ella Rita's family, my heartfelt
sympathy at the loss of your mother. In
the late 1960's I worked at Houston Title
Company and had the good fortune to call
Raymond a friend as well as fellow employee. His mother raised a true
gentleman. She must have been a wonderful lady.
Angela Smith
July 28, 2015
Was honored to be a guinea pig and try out the Tunnel of Fudge cake before it was submitted to Pillsbury. Miss the family get-togethers we used to have...the last one I remember was in her home after the kitchen renovation...as a side note, her nephew Philip Helfrich Jr. died July 23rd, most likely from a stroke. My memories of your parents are cherished and will be with me forever. Share my condolences amongst her survivors. She lived a long life and had a loving family. Again, condolences from this branch of the Helfrich family tree.
Patricia/Michael Helfrich
July 28, 2015
Mrs. Ella Rita was a blessing to all who knew her. I will really miss her.
Sharon Melancon
July 27, 2015
Ella Rita was always a leader and a mentor. When working with her at All Saints Mother Club, she always encourage me when I was president. Her encouragement continued when I took classes at the Third Age Learning Center. May she rest in peace.
Ositha Cykala
July 26, 2015
I'm making my first Tunnel of Fudge Cake and decided to google its inventor. Condolences to all family and friends. Sympathy and chocolate!
Blaire in Spring, TX
July 26, 2015
So sorry for your loss. Many prayers for your family. Beth--I went to All Saints with you--5th and 6th grades (so long ago!!) I ran across the article of your mother and could see your face in hers!! I felt compelled to write you a condolence. I always thought you were the nicest person and so pretty--I was so shy back then. Again, so sorry!
Paulette Paul Green
July 26, 2015
Her life legacy seems amazing , she is resting in Gods arms now. Love and Peace to the family.
Pamela Hutchinson-Richardson
July 25, 2015
There was such a sweetness and warmth that radiated from Aunt Sister. You could see it on her face and in her smile before she even spoke. We all loved her and are fortunate to have had her touch our lives. She was a great example to me of a life well-lived and I will miss her but I will always carry her in my heart. To all of our "Houston family"-we are grieving with you and will hold you in our prayers. Although time and distance have separated us, we still think of you often and treasure the bonds that we share.
Don and Lisa Swearingen
July 24, 2015
I was lucky. The Cake Lady was my grandmother-- and what a grandmother she was. She was as sweet as her favorite desserts. She was a font of love and encouragement, dpreading compliments wherever she went. Even in her final illness, she put aside intense pain to praise every nurse and doctor. You're so wonderful, she'd say. Right back at you, dearest Grandmere. Love, Jacqueline
Jacqueline Pontello
July 23, 2015
Aunt 'Sister' was a warm and loving lady that I will always remember and miss. She is in a much better place now.
Linda &Ronnie Tinney
July 23, 2015
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