Obituary: Helga Erna Maxwell Sept. 14, 1939 – June 28, 2023

Helga Erna Maxwell (Nee Scharlach), 83, died Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Tacoma, WA, after suffering several debilitating strokes.  Helga lived in West Seattle, WA, for the past 10 years, and before that resided in La Cañada, CA, for over 40 years.   

Helga was born in Vienna, Austria, to Franz and Erna Scharlach.  She had an older brother.  Helga legally immigrated to America, with her mother, in her teens, proudly becoming a citizen.  She graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a degree in accounting and worked as an accountant for the City of Los Angeles for many years.  Helga embraced motherhood, volunteering at her daughters’ schools, as a Girl Scout leader, etc.  She was proud of her Austrian heritage and embraced all things Austria, including Austrian recipes, desserts, music, and customs.  She and her daughters traveled to Austria multiple times throughout their childhood.  Helga was a devout Catholic and loved dancing, reading, gardening, and talking to her two best friends.

Helga is survived by her two daughters, Margie Sarrao, of Los Alamos, NM, and Virginia “Ginny” Waller of Gig Harbor, WA, their spouses, John Sarrao and Bill Waller, and 4 grandchildren, Daniel Sarrao, Max Waller, Jessica Waller, and Joseph Sarrao.  She is preceded in death by her mother, Lisette Erna Ferrell, her father, Franz Scharlach, her adoptive father, Hans Scharlach, her stepfather, Oscar Ferrell, her brother and her two best friends, Dorothy Glassman and Carol Beck.

Helga will be interred at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery next to her adoptive father, Hans Scharlach.