Helen Stella Paradise ( March 2, 1932 - March 21, 2007)
Unexpectedly, Helen passed away on March 21st, just two weeks after her 75th birthday. She was laid to rest in an above-ground crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood. Her funeral service was attended by approximately 1,000 mourners.
Helen Stella Paradise was born Elena Stella Cirino, on March 2, 1932, in Matrice, Province of Campobasso, east of Naples, Italy. She was born into a small family by Italian standards, consisting of her father, Antonio, (Anthony) her mother Giovanna, (Joanne) and an older brother, Giovanni, (John).
During her teenage years she interned as a dress designer at the world famous House of Valentino in Rome, where she became an accomplished designer of haute couture dress designs and patterns.
Through a quirk of fate, some of her uncles were found to have been American citizens by the postwar United States Army of Occupation. Until then, they were unaware that they had been born while Helen's grandparents were visiting the United States. Helen's father, being the eldest, was not so fortunate. Two uncles of American birth soon emigrated with their families to the United States, and settled in the Cleveland area. Helen's father, having missed out on American birth, emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children...as close as he could get to his American relatives.
During a visit to her Cleveland relatives, Helen met Richard Alan Paradise, a young Korean War Veteran of Italian heritage, and who spoke fluent Italian. With no language barrier, they eventually got engaged, and married in Hamilton, Ontario on March 9, 1957.
Her interest in dress design had waned, and was only used to create many extraordinary party dresses and suits for herself, and later for her daughter, Lynette.
Helen was athletically inclined. After watching Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the British TV series, The Avengers, Helen became inspired to design similar clothing worn by the Emma Peel character. Soon after, she enrolled in a Ju Jitsu school, and the martial arts quickly became her main avocation. Helen was a dedicated student for many years under the tutelage of the nationally distinguished Sensei, Ronald Balas.
Helen achieved a great degree of celebrity in the field of martial arts, having rose to the rank of Black Belt, 3rd Degree in Ju Jitsu. She won the 1968 Ohio Womens' Championship in Tae Kwon Do. She was also featured in Black Belt magazine for her Ju Jitsu techniques, including disabling aggressors armed with handguns and knives.
Helen taught martial arts and self defense classes at St. Petersburg College in Florida, and at Mission Hills Community College in Los Angeles, after moving to California with her family.
Helen and her husband Richard were divorced in 1989, but remained close friends.
As a Born-Again Christian in her later years, Helen was a devout evangelist, often eager to share her faith with others.
Helen is survived by three adult children, Dean Paradise, David Paradise and Lynette Carolla; and five grandchildren, Nicholas Paradise, Anthony Paradise, Megan Paradise; and twins, Santino Carolla and Natalia Carolla.
"ANNOUNCEMENT OF PROMOTION"
Be it known by all Martial Artists of Good Will,
That on the 29th Day of May, 2007, that
Sensei Helen Paradise was awarded the title of
Grand Master, 8th Dan (Hachi Dan) Posthumously
With all of the Rights and Privileges pertaining to Rank.
Helen was awarded the Title and distinction by the
Soke and Directors of the Hombu as a means of their
esteem and admiration for their Sister in Martial Arts.
We fondly remember the young and attractive Woman,
Wife and mother who came to our Dojo in the former
Cleveland Heights YMCA more than FOURTY (40) years
ago and wanted to learn! In our opinion, she was an
Inspiration and roll model for Women and Martial Artists
as well! She touched the lives of hundreds of students
throughout her career including one particular young man
Grand Master John Spinks of Seminole Florida.
Although Helen Paradise was awarded the Go Dan Rank
during one of her visits to Cleveland Ohio during the late
1980's, Ranking was not her main interest, but teaching
and love of Taishindoh and all Martial Arts was her main
Helen Paradise was a competitor and True Pioneer!
Therefore, be it known that Helen Paradise is listed on
The Roll's of the Hombu in perpetuity with the honored
Grand Master of
Taishindoh and TaishinJitsu