Dr. Mary Helen Castillo
EL PASO, TX - Dr. Mary Helen Castillo died peacefully in her home on Friday, September 2, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
She was born to Joseph and Irene Marquez in 1936 in El Paso and attended El Paso High School where she met and later married her beloved William (Billy) Castillo. After high school she moved to Los Angeles to attend St.Vincent’s Nursing school, where she got her nursing degree.
After moving back to El Paso, she became one of the first RNs in the country to receive a bachelor of science nursing degree from the University of Texas at El Paso while working concurrently as the administrator and chief nurse of Providence Memorial Hospital.
She then obtained her master’s degree in nursing at UT Austin and went on to obtain her PhD in education administration from New Mexico State. She became director of nursing administration for two years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN; dean of Health and Human Services at Pan American University in Brownsville for four years; dean of Health and Human Services at Cal State University in Northridge, CA, for five and a half years and served as chair of UTEP’s nursing faculty for eight years, and developed the school’s first master’s program in nursing administration.
Dr. Castillo was instrumental in developing graduate programs in nursing administration at many institutions around the country, authored numerous scholarly articles, worked with NAFTA on the educational health care needs of nurses on the US-Mexico border, and received numerous accolades throughout her career. She was named one of the 100 Outstanding Hispanics in the country by Hispanic Business Magazine and in 1995 was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing as a fellow.
After retiring, she continued to be heavily involved in the school’s Women’s Auxiliary group and was honored with the school’s “Gold Nugget Award” for her lifetime of achievements and outstanding commitment to all aspects of nursing. She loved teaching, mentoring, and was always proud of every student who graduated under her nursing programs.
In her spare time she loved to travel and visited all corners of the world. She was an avid orchid lover and had an extensive variety of the beautiful flowers in her home.
Dr. Castillo was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, William ( Billy) Castillo. She is survived by her three children, Angel Balch and husband Marc, of Wilmington, VT, William Castillo and wife Hiam, of El Paso, and Orlando Castillo and wife Penny, of Nashville, TN; her three grandchildren, Zachary Balch, of Syracuse, NY, Cameron Balch of Chicago, IL, and Ritchie Castillo, of El Paso; and her two great-grandchildren, Jonathan and Alexandra Balch. She is also survived by Gary Thomas, her wonderful and loving partner of six and a half years, and their dogs Sammy and Reggie.
There will be no funeral service at her request but a memorial gathering will be held at a date to be scheduled at a later time. In lieu of flowers a contribution may be made in memory of Dr. Mary Helen Castillo for benefit of the Nursing Administration and Management MSN program at UTEP. Donations made via check can be mailed to UTEP Institutional Advancement, 500 W. University, Kelly Hall, 6th Floor, El Paso, TX 79968. Make the check payable to UTEP and indicate the program name in the memo of the check. Donate online at https://givingto.utep.edu//CONadminmanagementMSN.