OBITUARY

Helga Casey

October 3, 1924March 24, 2021

Helga Casey October 3, 1924 – March 24, 2021

Helga was born in Berlin, Germany on October 3, 1924 in the district of Johannisthal within the Berlin borough of Treptow-Köpenick. Helga’s mother, Wally Stübing, (maiden name Neugebauer) gave birth to Helga in their home on Oststrasse [translated: East Street]. Helga’s father, Karl Stübing, was a test pilot at the Johannisthal Air Field—Germany’s first commercial air field which opened in 1909. Helga’s mother worked in the office of the Johannisthal Air Field and that is where she met Karl. Numerous aviation pioneers from a variety of nations operated workshops at the Johannisthal Air Field where planes were built and tested. In 1910, Melli Beese traveled to Johannisthal in search of a flight instructor. Helga’s father, Karl, was one of the pilots who helped train Melli, and she became Germany’s first female pilot after participating in a flight display in 1911. In 1921, Karl designed and built his own plane called the Sportdoppeldecker [translated: Sport Double Decker]. Given Karl’s talents as a builder, it is no surprise that Helga was the only child in her neighborhood with a bicycle.

Karl is mentioned in several books such as Als die Oldtimer Flogen: Die Geschichte des Flugplatzes Johannisthal by Günter Schmitt [translated: When the Oldtimers Flew: The History of the Johannisthal Air Field] and “Papa Raschke” – Aus dem Leben des Johannisthaler Holzhändlers, Konstrukteurs, und Flugzeugführers Gustav Raschke (1885-1949): Heft 12 aus der Dokumentenreihe über den Flugplatz Berlin-Johannisthal 1909-1914 by Alexander Kauther and Paul Wirtz [translated: “Papa Raschke” – From the life of the Johannisthal timber merchant, designer, and pilot Gustav Raschke (1885-1914): Issue 12 from the series of documents on the Berlin-Johannisthal Air Field 1909-1914.

Then in 1933, Hilter came. Helga was 9 years old. Hitler was the greatest misfortune for Germany. He propelled the country into disaster and turned the world against him with his destruction and annihilation. During World War II (1939-1945), Berlin, then the capital of Germany, was subject to hundreds of air raids. It was bombed by the United Kingdom Royal Air Force Bomber Command; by the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force; and by the French Air Force as part of the Allied campaign of strategic bombing of Germany. It was also attacked by Soviet Air Forces, mostly in 1945 as Soviet forces closed on the city. Between 1939 and 1942, the policy of bombing only targets of military importance was gradually abolished in favor of area bombing — large-scale bombing of German cities to destroy housing and civilian infrastructure. Area bombing caused extensive civilian deaths, injuries, and homelessness.

Helga’s father and grandfather built a bomb shelter in their backyard on Oststrasse. When the air raid sirens sounded, Helga and her family ran to the shelter. One night while taking cover in the bunker, they heard an enormous bang. The ground shook and sand trickled from above. Then there was silence. Six people were in the shelter (Helga, her parents, grandparents, and aunt), and it took all of them to open the door as it was jammed shut. When they emerged, they saw not far from their house a massive hole in the ground. They realized how close they had come to being killed. From that point forward, they traveled to the main, large shelter about a 10-minute walk from their house. When they went to sleep at night, they got dressed, so when the sirens wailed, they would be ready to run. On one occasion when Helga was 18, the sirens rang, and they all had to run to the main bunker. Helga always took her time and was slower than the others. The family waited for her and was delayed before they could get to the shelter. On the way there, they discovered an explosion had occurred just moments before, and those running to the bunker ahead of them were killed or badly wounded. Survivors dragged the wounded into the shelter where most of them died of horrific injuries. So Helga saved her family that day. However, all the wonderful, fun times they had experienced before the war were gone forever.

Still, life continued on. Helga took a job in a newspaper office to help the family earn money. She had to walk through the burned streets to get to work. There was no train and no traffic at all. The streets were destroyed and the houses in ruins. When she came home, her hair was black from soot and her eyes were red and watering from the smoke, but the next day she made the journey again. There was very little food, and people survived on bread and sparse provisions that were rationed.

Finally, Hitler himself was destroyed but only after countless, innocent people died because of his insane ideas. Then Germany was divided into four occupation zones: American, British, French, and Soviet. While Berlin was located wholly within the Soviet zone, the city was jointly occupied by the Allied powers and also subdivided into four zones. All four occupying powers were entitled to privileges throughout Berlin that were not extended to the rest of Germany.

When the Russians came to Berlin, Helga and her family were in the main bunker. They could not return home because the Russians had taken over the house as their headquarters. They also seized other dwellings that were not destroyed. Helga and her family escaped and were able to seek shelter in the house of another relative. When they finally could go back to their house, they found it unrecognizable. The Russians had driven their tanks over the sidewalk. All the dishes were in the yard broken, even the neighbors’ dishes. The Russians had slaughtered some type of animal on the dining room table. The dog was gone and the pet bird trampled. Families could not take their pets to the main shelter since animals were not allowed. Also, women had to be careful to avoid the areas where soldiers were, and Helga had to run and hide from soldiers on many occasions.

In 1948, at the age of 24, Helga left Berlin and arrived in the United States on Thanksgiving Day. Her great aunt had been living in New York for some time, and Helga stayed with her. Soon after, Helga was able to secure a job in New York as a translator for a large import-export company where she translated German documents. In 1949, Helga married her first husband Karl Seifermann. The marriage dissolved in 1953.

Later in 1955, Helga’s mother also came to New York, before the new East German state restricted all travel to the West. As all of Helga’s immediate family had passed away, she and her mother were lucky to have the opportunity to leave since their house was located in East Berlin. From 1961 until 1989, East Berlin was under communist rule and separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall.

Also in 1955, Helga met her second husband John James Casey. They met at the Alpine Village in Lake George, New York where both happened to be vacationing. At the time, John was a Fire Marshal at Fort Hamilton, a U.S. Army base in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and also was a physical fitness instructor on the naval vessel. He received the Asiatic–Pacific Ribbon–Victory Medal for his service. He worked as a civilian for 26 years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He also qualified for the 1928 Summer Olympics in swimming and diving, but did not have the funds to travel. At that time, athletes had to pay for all their expenses. John’s parents Jeremiah and Hannah Casey, owned and operated the Casey Funeral Home in Howard Beach, New York where John’s family lived. The funeral home is still in operation today.

On June 24, 1960, Helga and John were married. In 1961, in Jamaica, Queens New York, Helga gave birth to her only child Patricia Hannah Casey. In 1964, they moved to Juno Beach, Florida where they lived for 30 years. John became involved in politics. He was elected as a town Commissioner and served in 1971 and 1972. He then ran for town Mayor and served in 1973 and 1974. The decade of the 1970s was a tumultuous time for Juno Beach as development problems became dominant, particularly in the area of adequate water and sewage systems. A 1971 drought caused salt water intrusion in wells within the town’s water system. Additionally confrontations broke out and lasted several years over a sewage treatment plant that was being built by a condominium developer to be shared with the town. Town meetings became filled with standing room only crowds of town residents anxious to voice their opinions. The plant eventually became part of the town’s sewage system. After helping John in his political career, Helga worked for Weekday, a weekly newspaper in Lake Park, Florida. Later in her 80s, Helga spent time cruising the Caribbean and was able to visit almost every island.

Helga’s husband, John, passed away on February 2, 1985 and her mother, Wally, on May 24, 1997. In 2001, Patricia married William Piper Walton, Jr. who passed away October 29, 2018.

Helga is survived by her daughter Patricia Casey.

To offer condolences or to share your memories of Helga, go to https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/west-palm-beach-fl/helga-casey-10124184

For more information about Helga’s memorial service, please email Patricia Casey at patriciahcasey61@gmail.com

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Helga Casey

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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Ann's horse takes off

FROM THE FAMILY

Aunt Frieda's 90th birthday Juno Beach

FROM THE FAMILY

Baden Baden mineral spa 1991

FROM THE FAMILY

Bavarian Romantic Street 1991

FROM THE FAMILY

Bavarian Village New York 1955

FROM THE FAMILY

Banyan tree backyard Juno Beach

FROM THE FAMILY

Beethoven House Bonn Germany prior to my mom surprising caretaker with her German after he scolded us for taking photos. He was quiet after that.

FROM THE FAMILY

Berlin Wall

FROM THE FAMILY

Bungalow Rockaway Beach NY Omi and Patricia 1961

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Ann's horse takes off

FROM THE FAMILY

Aunt Frieda's 90th birthday Juno Beach

FROM THE FAMILY

Baden Baden mineral spa 1991

FROM THE FAMILY

Bavarian Romantic Street 1991

FROM THE FAMILY

Bavarian Village New York 1955

FROM THE FAMILY

Banyan tree backyard Juno Beach

FROM THE FAMILY

Beethoven House Bonn Germany prior to my mom surprising caretaker with her German after he scolded us for taking photos. He was quiet after that.

FROM THE FAMILY

Berlin Wall

FROM THE FAMILY

Bungalow Rockaway Beach NY Omi and Patricia 1961