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She was born on Sept. 16, 1917, in Monaca. Helen was the daughter of Arsenija and Stana Orell Pavkovich.
The family moved to West Pittsburg, where she met James J. Vessella. They married on June 8, 1933, and were married for 49 years until Jim's passing on Dec. 18. 1979.
Helen will be remembered for her love of her Serbian heritage, the music, dance and ethnic foods.
She encouraged her children to participate in the culture. Her daughter Mary Ann was awarded a scholarship to the Duquesne University Tamburitizans. Helen became involved in the parent organization supporting the Duquesne Tammies. She accompanied them to their workshop and rehearsal site at Lake Nebagaman, Wis. She cooked and helped with the student performers. She also traveled to Europe several times with Tamburitizan groups. She was active with the group for 20 years, during which the parent group was a highlight at the Pittsburgh Folk Festival. She demonstrated and taught the art of making ethnic foods and was featured on Channel 11 News, Pittsburgh, and in the New Castle News, in 1985, for making strudel.
Helen continued her love and support of her heritage by becoming a member of the adult Tamburitizans, Veseljaci, of Farrel. She played the Preem and performed with the group in fundraising by making and teaching the art of strudel-making. Helen became an honorary member of the Veseljaci Tamburitizans on Dec. 11, 2011.
She is remembered as a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Helen is survived by a son, James J. Vessella, Greenville; a daughter, Dr. Mary Ann Nobers, New Castle; four grandchildren, Mark Vessella and his wife Lori, Phoenix; Suzanne Vessella, Ellwood City; Lorrin Vessella Bowser and her husband Bob, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Maret Vessella McNeil and her husband David, Phoenix; and four great-grandchildren, Alexandra, Samantha, Matthew and Noah.
In addition to her parents and her husband, she was preceded in passing by her son, Peter Vessella; five brothers, Joseph, Steve, Michael, Theodore and Micky Pavkovich; and one sister, Violet Vukovich.
Helen, 98, of New Castle.
Calling hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (5-31-16) in R. CUNNINGHAM FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY, Inc., 2429 Wilmington Road, New Castle.
Service: Mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m. Wednesday (6-1-16) in Mary Mother of Hope Parish, where she was a member. Processional will leave the funeral home by 9:30 a.m. The Rev. Frank Almade will officiate.
Interment: St. Vitus Cemetery.
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