Helen JoAnne Gallichio, passed away peacefully on March 31, 2023, at the New Bethany Residential Care and Skilled Nursing Facility. The daughter of Portuguese immigrants Joseph and Victoria Lopes, Helen was born January 16, 1932, in Newman California. Growing up in Patterson, she attended Grayson Elementary School in nearby Westly.  After her parents passed away in 1945 Helen and her siblings moved to Los Banos to live with their Aunt Gertrude L. Costa. She graduated from Los Banos Union High School in 1949 as the class Salutatorian.

Helen started dating the love of her life, Frank Gallichio on New Years Eve 1948. They were engaged in the Spring of 1949 and married on September 25, 1949. They spent the next 66 years as husband, wife, father, mother, and best friends.

Helen’s bookkeeping career started at Degregori’s Los Banos Hardware from 1949-1976. After Mr. and Mrs. Degregori retired and closed the store, Helen became employed with J.C. Penny Company and remained an integral part of the bookkeeping team for more than 30 years.

She made volunteering and community service a second full-time job. She belonged to the Young Ladies Institute Mystical Rose No. 169 for over 50 years, Our Lady of Fatima Society, Madonna Del Carmine, and the Twilighters Bowling League. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Merced County Spring Fair Board in 1974 where she served for nearly 25 years. In addition, Helen served as the chairman for the Central Valley Blood Center for the Westside for more than two decades.  Her commitment and dedication to the community was noted by receiving Woman of the Year by the city of Los Banos in addition to being a three-year winner of the James Cash Penny Award, for her volunteer work with 4-H and the Central Valley Blood Center. Alongside Frank, Helen volunteered weekly at New Bethany Residential Care and Skilled Nursing Facility which would later become her home.

To her, working with young people in 4-H was her passion and one of her greatest purposes in life. She was a 4-H leader and mentor for more than 50 years.  During that time, she served as a sewing leader, community leader, and a member of the Merced County 4-H Management Board. While her husband Frank was a notable figure in the dairy barn at the Merced County Spring Fair, Helen could be found transforming the Germino Youth Building into a showcase for 4-H and FFA projects.

Helen’s faith, leadership and caring personality has given many young people the opportunity to realize their dreams. Not only did she realize the importance of working with young people, but she also took the time to give the elderly the same devotion, care and love. She enriched the lives of so many.

She is preceded in death by her loving husband Frank Gallichio, parents Joseph and Victoria Lopes, and brothers Joe, George and John Lopes.

Helen is survived by her sister Mary Harris, sons Michael Gallichio, Patrick (Tara) Gallichio, Timothy (Mary) Gallichio, Jeffrey (Yolanda) Gallichio, grandchildren Christopher, Loryn and Jamie Gallichio, Nisa (Matthew) Dufur, Mateo, Alexis and Caitlyn Gallichio, great grandchildren Deegan and Garrett Openshaw, Elynnor Allen, Madison Dufur and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to any of the following:  New Bethany Residential Care and Skilled Nursing Facility, O.L.F. Catholic School, or the Merced County 4-H Scholarship Fund.

The recitation of the Holy Rosary will be Thursday April 13th at 10:00 AM immediately followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, in Los Banos. Her final resting place will be the Los Banos Cemetery.

Services are under the direction of Whitehurst Funeral Chapels Los Banos.

The Westside Express