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

Deaths Out of Left Field

I didn't even know he was sick

I added "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert's name to a mental list I've been keeping for a while now. The list contains names of famous people who died unexpectedly and made you say, "wow I never expected (insert deceased name here) to die." But, as with most of my lists, I do have rules. Celebrities over a certain age are not eligible (ie Bob Hope , George Burns, etc.). Presidents, world leaders, and politicians are off the list for obvious reasons. Cancer victims and celebrities who contract AIDS or other diseases are also off the list. The announcement of the illness may be unexpected but by the time the death comes we're prepared. Finally, the entire Kennedy family is ineligible. That family is cursed and unexpected Kennedy death is a expected.

So here's the list starting with the most recent unexpected death and then grouped according to cause of death. Please feel free to comment.

  • Tim Russert (heart attack)
  • Robert Palmer (heart attack)
  • Richie Ashburn (heart attack)
  • Elvis Presley (heart attack)
  • Jim Fixx (heart attack)
  • Elvis Presley (heart attack)
  • Jerome Brown (car accident)
  • Pele Limburgh (car accident)
  • Jessica Savage (car accident)
  • Princess Grace Kelly (car accident)
  • Princess Diana (car accident)
  • Jayne Mansfield (car accident)
  • James Dean (car accident)
  • Patsy Cline (plane crash)
  • Jim Croce (plane crash)
  • Ricky Nelson (plane crash)
  • Roberto Clemente (plane crash)
  • Payne Stewart (plane crash)
  • Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Big Bopper (plane crash)
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd band members (plane crash)
  • Aaliyah (or is it Ashante?) (plane crash)
  • Rocky Marciano (plane crash)
  • John Denver (plane crash)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn (helicopter crash)
  • Bill Graham (helicopter crash)
  • River Phoenix (drug overdose)
  • Heath Ledger (drug overdose)
  • Marilyn Monroe (drug overdose)
  • John Belushi (drug overdose)
  • Chris Farley (drug overdose)
  • Michael Jackson  (drug overdose, June 25, 2009)
  • Tim Buckley (drug overdose)
  • Jeff Buckley (drowning)
  • Natalie Wood (drowing)
  • John Marzono (fall)
  • Ahmet Ertegün (fall)
  • Dr. Robert Atkins (fall)
  • Phil Hartman (murdered)
  • John Lennon (murdered)
  • Lee Harvey Oswald (murdered)
  • Selena (murdered)
  • Jim O'Brien (skydiving accident)
  • Reggie White (cardiac and pulmonary sarcidosis)
  • Sonny Bono (skiing accident)
  • John Ritter (aortic dissection)
  • Steve Irwin (stingray barb)
  • Jim Hensen (streptococcus pneumonia)
  • Duane Allman (motorcycle accident)
  • Berry Oakley (motorcycle accident)
  • Bruce Lee (brain aneurism)
  • Brandon Lee (misfired prop gun)
  • Freddie Prinze (suicide)
  • Nick Drake (suicide)
  • Budd Dwyer (suicide - shot himself in the mouth with a revolver on TV)
  • Mama Cass Elliott (cardiac arrest)
  • Johnny Ace (accidental self inflicted gun wound to the head)
  • Terry Kath (accidental self inflicted gun wound to the head)
  • Keith Relf (electrocution)
  • Jimi Heselden, owner of the Segway (fell off a cliff while on a Segway)

This list represents unexpected deaths that you knew were eventually going to happen:

  • Kurt Cobain
  • Anna Nicole Smith
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jim Morrison
  • Keith Moon
  • Dennis Wilson
  • Brian Jones
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Sid Vicious
  • (reserved for Amy Winehouse)