Gordner Statement on the Passing of Senator Ed Helfrick

(HARRISBURG) – I am saddened to hear of Ed Helfrick’s passing.  Ed served his constituents well both in the House and the Senate.  He was a very common man who also had a world of knowledge and experiences.  He was a self-made businessman who started hauling and selling coal as a teenager and never forgot his roots. He served our country well as a paratrooper in the United States Army.  In the 1950’s he drove race cars at local tacks including at the Selinsgrove Speedway. 

In the Senate he was a champion of the pro-life movement at the same time that he was against the death penalty.  To him, life was precious and every person was worthwhile. He authored the “safe haven” law that allowed mothers to bring an unwanted baby to a safe location rather than take any other action.   He was an avid sportsman and was Chair of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee for a long time and led many statewide initiatives.  He authored many hunting and fishing laws. 

For many, many years, he quietly donated his entire Senate salary to charities and worthwhile causes.  For example, he befriended Senator Shirley Kitchen, a Philadelphia Democrat, and once paid to have several buses of her inter-city Philadelphia students come up to his district and spend a day at Knoebels Grove.  Senator Bob Mellow, the Senate Democratic leader, told me that several times Ed quietly gave tens of thousands of dollars to needy groups in his district. 

His nature wasn’t to seek publicity but to quietly and effectively get projects and legislation done.  As he traveled around his district, he often had his dog in his vehicle by his side.  One of the last projects that he got done was having the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources take over the Brush Valley tract of land from Aqua Pennsylvania.  That area that is now a state forest is the type of area that he loved.  When he resigned in late August, 2003, he gave me his full political and personal support to follow him to the Senate.  His friendship and his trust in me has never been forgotten. 

Senator John Gordner

CONTACT:  Mike Stephens  mstephens@pasen.gov