Susan Helsel
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 10:19 AM

Sue has yet to join the site, but Mary Jane (Walters) Knab has passed along some sad news to share with our classmates. Sue's 16 year old son, Eugene, passed away last week. You'll find a copy of the Altoona Mirror article and obituary below. I'm sure that I speak for the class when I wish Sue, her husband Anthony, and their daughters Anna & Josephine all the best in their time of loss. Nobody should have to outlive their child.

From the 6/3/10 Altoona Mirror:

Eugene A. Ciccarella
Dec. 3, 1993 - May 30, 2010

Eugene A. Ciccarella, 16, of Altoona passed away Sunday.
He was born in Altoona, son of Anthony and Susan (Helsel) Ciccarella.
Surviving are his parents; his grandmother, Ann Helsel of Hollidaysburg; two sisters: Anna and Josephine; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents: Michael and Phyllis Ciccarella and Charles Helsel.
Eugene was a ninth-grade student at Altoona Area Junior High School and was a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.
He enjoyed taking long walks with his mother, skateboarding and spending time with his many friends and family. He also enjoyed sharing his time with Faith Baptist Awana Club and Simpson-Temple United Parish.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, 2010, at Santella Funeral Home, where a vigil for the deceased will be held. A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 5, 2010, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. Committal will be held at Calvary Cemetery.
In memory of Eugene, contributions may be given to his parents.

From the 6/3/10 Altoona Mirror:
Teen's death brings out town's compassion
By William Kibler,

POSTED: June 3, 2010
When Anthony Ciccarella introduced his son Eugene to the world beyond the home 12 years ago by enrolling him in preschool, he learned from experts there to see the community as extended family.
It inspired Anthony to begin doing things for strangers for the first time, including service for six years as a board member for Child Advocates of Blair County.
He discovered you don't always get much in return - which was OK, because he wasn't "keeping score," he said.
But it took Eugene's death by drowning at Raystown Lake Sunday to make him realize that what they said about community as family really does work both ways, after all, because people have embraced him in his grief so forcefully that - incomprehensible as it sounds - he asked rhetorically, "how lucky can a guy be?"
Preliminary results of an autopsy Tuesday showed, as expected, that Eugene died of drowning, Huntingdon County Coroner Dave McGarvey said.
A toxicology report will be forthcoming in several weeks, but there's no indication of other physical problems that could have caused the death and no indication of drugs or alcohol, McGarvey said.
Everywhere he goes, people tell him they're sorry, try to find a connection with him or Eugene and want to help, Anthony said.
After buying a shirt for Eugene, he needed it pressed, and went to a dry cleaner's, where an employee said she was too busy to do it right away.
But when she learned what was behind his errand, she ordered him to "give me that thing," and ironed it immediately - at no charge.
Officials at Altoona Area Junior High School, where Eugene, 16, was a ninth-grader, held a moment of silence, Anthony said. The staff of the guidance office where he went to collect his son's belongings were extraordinarily nice.
All the kids in the wood shop at school were planning to come to Eugene's viewing, he said.
The director of Calvary Cemetery "was so nice to me, I didn't have to cry," he said.
Ditto for Santella's Funeral Home: "I didn't cry for three hours straight," he said.
Pellegrine's Lounge, where he's worked as a doorman for 10 years, collected $700 and will hold a benefit Sunday.
A former cook at the bar was too timid to call but plans to make pots of soup to sell at the benefit.
He's been receiving the condolences amidst running errands and taking care of details.
Anthony and his wife, Sue, needed a belt for Eugene, and when Sue went up to their son's bedroom, she found it still on the pants Eugene wore to his ninth-grade social.
It's actually Anthony's belt. Eugene had borrowed it, and told his mom he thought he might keep it.
"He'll get his wish," Anthony said.
Anthony's comb, which Eugene habitually took out of the medicine cabinet, earning his father's wrath, also will go into the casket, as a memento and a gift.
"A dumb thing," Anthony said. "[But] he can have his own comb to take with him."
He plans to turn his son's death into something positive, as he did with his mother's in December, which led him to resume attendance at weekly Mass.
He doesn't have a working car, but every Saturday, he takes the van of his boss, Harry Pellegrine, then uses it to pick up Harry so they can go to Our Lady of Mount Carmel together.
It was a good thing that came out of misfortune, he said.
He hasn't figured out what will come out of this yet.
Sue has been crying also, telling him stories about Eugene and their bond, sustained by long walks together.
They both worry about Anna, their 14-year-old daughter, who has withdrawn into grief.
They finally "got through to her" on Tuesday, telling her, "You're our next best hope," even getting her to smile once, Anthony said.
People have been telling him they don't know what to say.
"I tell them just stand where you're at and let me do the talking," he said.
He's looking forward to the viewing.
He wonders about the end of the funeral, when the family will be "left standing alone."
But then there's the benefit at Pelly's.
"People will be there because they love me and they loved Eugene," he said. "I'm looking forward to that too. Maybe I'm doing something right."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.