Helen "Elena" Schwailik

Helen “Elena” Schwailik (Nestoff, Pelensky), 96, of Ridgefield Park, NJ was born in Lyndora, PA on August 20,1926. She left there as a young girl and went to New York City to study voice and pursue a career in opera. While there she showed great talent and began performing at many important venues, most notably landing the lead role in the 1956 production of Rimski-Korsakoff’s opera “Snegourochka” (The Snow-Maiden) at Carnegie Hall. 


She came to St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carteret with Father Leo Pelensky to work in the church office and sing in the choir. It was there that she met the love of her life, Nicholas Schwailik. They married on July 28, 1957. After their marriage she gave up her professional singing career and became an executive secretary for an international music publishing house in New York City. She continued singing with Nick in the church choir for over 40 years. They enjoyed their home in Ridgefield Park and a home in the Poconos. They were parishioners of both St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, Carteret, NJ and St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church, Teaneck, NJ.


After Nick's death in 2003; she mourned the loss of her "Nicky" for the rest of her life. In 2020 she moved to Care-One Assisted Living in Marlton, NJ. There she enjoyed making new friends and participating in the daily activities. She completed her life peacefully on May 12, 2023 at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, NJ. She is survived by many nieces and nephews. All who knew her remember her as a sweet, kind, and loving, woman.


For those wishing to pay their respects a viewing will be held at Vorhees-Ingwersen Funeral Home 59 Main St. Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660 on Wednesday May 24th from 6 to 8 PM. A viewing at the funeral home on May 25th at 9:00AM will proceed the Funeral Mass at St. Anastasia. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation or to Wounded Warrior Project.