Beloved Matriarch Mary Ferrante, 105

Little Gram's obituary

Mary (Taormina) Ferrante, a beloved matriarch whose perseverance, piety, generosity and sheer goodness inspired all who met her, died on Monday, July 14, at the home of her granddaughter, surrounded by her family. She was 105.

Maria Concetta Ferrante was born on December 8, 1902, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, in Sicily, the fifth of six children of Francesco and Giuseppa Taormina. The family lived in Sicily until she was seven years old, when they sailed from Palermo to Ellis Island, New York.

The Taormina’s settled in Youngstown, OH, where Mary enjoyed an idyllic childhood. At her brother Andrew’s wedding in Philadelphia, 16 year-old Mary traded youthful bliss for joy of another kind when she met a handsome soldier named Frank Ferrante – the bride’s brother. Soon, the bride’s brother and the groom’s sister became husband and wife themselves. Their first child, Angelina Nora (Angie), was born in 1920, followed quickly by Josephine Ann (Jo Ann); Rose, who tragically only lived 2 years; James William (Jimmy) who passed away in 2007; and her fifth child, Frank Joseph, born when Mary was just 23 years old.

Frank, Sr., was an underemployed carpenter; so Mary found work as a seamstress, sometimes holding two jobs. It wasn’t until their four surviving children had grown up and moved out that they bought a bungalow in Pennsauken, and began fixing up their dream home. But their empty-nest happiness was short-lived. In 1946, Frank died of a broken neck after a fall, leaving Mary a widow at 44. Left with almost no money, Mary went to work again, this time in the alteration departments of Philadelphia clothing stores. Later, she found work closer to home at Strawbridge and Clothier in Cherry Hill and continued to work until she finally retired at age 80. By then, she had moved from Pennsauken to Sicklerville, where she lived by herself, proudly making and washing her clothes, cooking, baking homemade bread and cleaning, until she was well past 100.

In addition to her indefatigable work ethic, Mary was known for her deep faith in God and in the Catholic Church. Until she was no longer physically able, she attended Mass regularly but was neither maudlin nor zealous in her beliefs. She simply believed.

Mary Ferrante is survived by three of her five children: Angelina Lorren, Jo Ann Endner, and Frank Ferrante, six of her eight grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 23 great-great-grandchildren. She will be greatly missed.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her viewing Thursday eve 7:00 – 9:00pm at the Egizi Funeral Home, 119 Ganttown Rd., Washington Twp. Funeral Mass Friday 10:00am at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 642 Market Street, Camden. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, PA.

Mary's 8th Grade Graduation Class.
Mary is sitting next to the teacher on the left.

Brother Andrew's wedding.
Mary is sitting next to the bride.
Her husband to be is standing her.

Mary with her husband Frank.

Mama with her four children - Angie, Jo Ann, Frankie, and Jimmy.

Grandma with five of her grandchildren,
Claudia, Pauline, Stanley, Johnny, and baby Janis.

Little Gram with one of her 22 great-grandchildren, Leah.

View / Print Frank and Mary's decedent chart - La Familiga Ferrante