Helen Jean Knapka, age 81 of Wilmington, DE passed away on October 7, 2023 at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, DE. Born to James Clayton Greenland & Helen Wisosky Greenland in Bellefonte, PA, she was raised in Milesburg, PA. Helen has resided the past 4 years with her daughter in North Wilmington, DE, previously residing in Texas & Pennsylvania.
Helen received a bachelor’s degree from Lock Haven University, then worked as an elementary school teacher for several years, finding joy and satisfaction as she taught children in fun, creative ways. Together with her husband Andy, Helen invested her love and devoted herself to raising her two children, Joe and MaryEllen. As they grew, she also worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a companion to seniors, and volunteered her time.
Some beautiful things that Helen brought to her world were her strong Catholic faith, her generosity toward people, and her thoughtfulness in remembering family and friends with considerate gifts. She was dedicated to her family and had a strong desire to keep family members closely in touch. Helen had a stubborn but loving way of standing up for people, especially the underdog and those who may be forgotten. She consistently and enthusiastically encouraged her children throughout their lives. Helen faced significant difficulties in her life, struggling with illness, but found strength in God.
Helen loved nature and especially enjoyed learning all about birds, sometimes spending full days reading her favorite book, Birds of North America. She also loved catalog shopping, jewelry, reading mysteries, watching crime shows, observing wildlife in the backyard (especially fox!), and savoring a piece of French apple pie from Booth’s Corner farmers’ market. She took great delight in flowers, eschewing manicured gardens for truly wild meadows of disorganized, fierce beauty. She was and is deeply loved, and will be profoundly missed.
In addition to her parents, Helen is preceded in death by her husband who died in 1997, Andrew J. Knapka; a son, Joseph A. Knapka; a son-in-law, David E. DeMarco; and a sister-in-law, Josie Greenland. She is survived by a daughter, MaryEllen DeMarco; a brother, James Greenland; two granddaughters, Annze Jo Hagan Knapka and Darcy Harman; a grandson, Rory Harman; a nephew, Michael Greenland and his family; and a niece, Beth Arford and her family. A visitation will be held on October 23, Monday, 10-11AM at the Pagano Funeral Home, 3711 Foulk Rd. Garnet Valley, PA followed by funeral services at 11AM. Interment will be held at Mount Hope Cemetery, Aston, PA. Donations in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital (www.stjude.org) or Church of the Holy Child, 2500 Naamans Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810. Online condolences may be made by visiting www.paganofuneralhome.com