Edouard Helfrick | Obituaries | Today’s article
Senator Ed was born March 11, 1928 in Pottsville, the son of the late Edward J. and Elizabeth (Rosenberger) Helfrick. He graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1945 and served in the United States Army from 1945 to 1946 as a paratrooper in the Pacific during World War II with the 11th Airborne Division. On November 27, 1952, Thanksgiving Day, he married Rose Marie Chikajlo of Mount Carmel and raised five children in Bear Gap.
Senator Ed was formerly the co-owner of several anthracite coal-producing and related businesses, as well as two terms as a Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (107th District) from 1977 to 1980 and six terms as a Republican member of the Senate. of Pennsylvania (27th District). ) from 1981 to 2003, representing all the counties of Northumberland, Snyder, Montour and Columbia and sections of the counties of Luzerne and Dauphin. Before being convinced by Republican Party officials to run for the state House of Representatives in 1976, he had never set foot in the state capital of Harrisburg. Senator Ed donated his freshman salary to St. Joseph’s Children Hospital in Reading.
During his career in the Senate, he drafted more than 500 bills or amendments that have been promulgated. He left a legacy in Harrisburg, including the “Safe Haven Act”, the 2002 law that allows hospitals to accept unwanted newborns. His fight for pro-life issues and his passionate opposition to the death penalty have won him admirers as well as critics. He has received numerous awards from community groups and organizations for his work on their behalf, including the PA State Fish & Game Protection Association Gold Medal, the PA Right for Work Statesman of the Year, the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award, the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Club Legislature of the Year and a Lincoln Heritage Institute Guardian Award. In 2017, the Edward W. Helfrick Resource Management Center in Aristes was dedicated in his name for his last major ruling achievement which involved the transfer of private land to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania establishing the State Forest’s Roaring Creek Tract. of Weiser in eastern Pennsylvania. .
Edward’s involvement in the anthracite coal industry began in the 1940s when he and a high school pal Robert Kerris bought a truck from a junkyard and began hauling coal through Philadelphia on a rotating basis. where they were dropping out of school. They eventually turned the business into a major coal mining and excavation operation. During these years, in the mid-1950s, when the local coal industry experienced a severe economic downturn, the partners ventured into French Guiana in South America to dredge for gold under extremely difficult conditions. A few years later, they sold their profitable business to a South American company and returned to Pennsylvania to focus on charcoal.
In the late 1950s their company was officially incorporated as Kerris and Helfrick, Inc. and by the 1960s Kerris and Helfrick owned the largest anthracite mining operation and were the largest employer in the area. of Shamokin until 1986, when operations ceased due to a union strike. . In 1966 Kerris and Helfrick purchased the Glen Burn Coal Mine from Susquehanna Coal Co. In 1968 they started the Bear Gap stone quarry at Bear Gap and in 1969 they acquired the International Truck dealership to form Norco Truck and Diesel.
Senator Ed has also been a director of First National Trust Bank and Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. in Sunbury, was a member of the Northumberland County Airport Authority and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Boy Scouts Council and attended the Queen of the Most Church of the Holy Rosary in Elysburg. He was also a member of many civic and fraternal organizations including the American Legion Post 804, VFW, Knights of Columbus, Elks, Eagles, Moose, and several area fire companies.
Senator Ed was a former airplane and helicopter pilot and also raced stock cars in his twenties at Selinsgrove Speedway and other area tracks. He loved the outdoors and was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed hiking, hunting, boating and fishing. In 2009, at the age of 81, he received a World Angling Record from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for his record catch of 45.3 lbs. Black grouper captured on a 12-pound test line in Key Largo, Florida. Retired, the senator divided his time between his farm and at Bear Gap and his winter home in Key Largo, Florida.
Senator Ed is survived by his wife of 69 years, Rose Marie (“Rosie Dear”); five children, Mary Rose Diefenderfer of Custer, Washington; Kathy Whittington (Michael), of Reston, Virginia; Diane Cooper (Pete), of Key West, Florida; Edward Helfrick Jr. (Ruthann), of Elysburg; and Susan Helfrick (John Scelfo), of Longboat Key, Florida. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Brendan, Brittany and Colin Whittington and Jonathan Helfrick; one sister, Agnes Hunt of Asbury Park, New Jersey; sisters-in-law, Loretta Chicalo and Loraine Chicalo; as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his brother, John Helfrick; his sister, Elizabeth Thomas; and many of his longtime friends and colleagues.
The family expresses their sincere gratitude to the caregivers, especially her daughter-in-law, Ruthann, and Linette Snyder, from Herndon, who have been her primary caregivers in making her last days comfortable.
A Christian funeral mass will be held at 11 am on Monday, October 4, at the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church, 599 W. Center St., Elysburg, with Father Patrick Devine as officiant. Entombment will follow at All Saints Cemetery in Elysburg. The viewing will take place in the lobby of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Center from 9 a.m. until mass.
In lieu of flowers, and because of his passion for stray dogs, please donate in memory of Senator Ed at mostmuttsonline.com.
Arrangements are made with CJ Lucas Funeral Home Inc., 27 N. Vine St., Mount Carmel. To send your condolences to the family, please visit www.cjlucasfuneralhome.com