Family, friends and public officials said farewell to former city elections commissioner Marge Tartaglione during a Saturday morning funeral Mass at St. Martin of Tours Church.
Tartaglione, a longtime resident of the 1400 block of Van Kirk St. in Oxford Circle, died last week of respiratory ailments. She was 86.
She was predeceased by her husband, Gene (Zip). They were married for more than 55 years and had five children: Renee Tartaglione-Matos (Carlos), state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, Eugene A. Tartaglione Jr., Mary Ann Rossi and the late Margaret.
Tartaglione (nee Warnecka) is survived by nine grandchildren: Margaret, Joseph, Anthony, Gino, Daniella, Dominic, Francesca, Sophia and Juan; and three great-grandchildren: Nicholas, Samantha and Julianna. She was affectionately known as “Babci.”
Tartaglione, a Democrat, was elected in 1975 as an ally of Mayor Frank L. Rizzo. She and Republican at-large Councilwoman Dr. Ethel Allen were the first women elected citywide.
Tartaglione served for nine four-year terms, mostly as chairwoman, before losing in the 2011 primary. She was also the longtime Democratic leader of the 62nd Ward.
She received more cumulative votes than anyone in the history of Philadelphia and is credited with implementing computerized voting without a glitch.
Among those attending her funeral Mass were state Reps. Mike Driscoll and Joe Hohenstein, elections commissioner Lisa Deeley, City Councilmen Al Taubenberger and Bobby Henon and former state Rep. George Kenney, now an associate vice president at Temple.
Tartaglione’s casket was draped in Philadelphia’s blue and yellow flag.
Sen. Tartaglione asked Wendell Young IV, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, to deliver a eulogy.
Young, speaking before the Mass, told the crowd that Marge Tartaglione grew up near Aramingo Avenue and Westmoreland Street. As a married, working woman, she cooked dinner, did the laundry and helped with schoolwork.
“She always put family first,” Young said.
When Sen. Tartaglione suffered a serious spine injury in a 2003 boating accident, her mother was always by her bedside.
“Marge was there for Tina,” Young said.
Not only that, Marge Tartaglione spent time with patients at the rehabilitation hospital who did not have visitors. More recently, as she rehabbed at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, she made sure that a lonely patient got her hair and makeup done and some new clothes.
“She knew how to make people feel special,” Young said.
Young, who grew up on Castor Avenue in Northwood, also noted how Tartaglione would help people get jobs, pay their mortgage or get new furniture after a home fire.
“She knew how to take care of people,” he said.
Young said his late dad, a legendary UFCW president, liked Tartaglione, even though they had vastly different views of Rizzo.
Young recalled how the cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking Tartaglione could be tough on political foes.
“Poor Gene Maier,” he said of one of her fellow commissioners, who resigned in 1981 after being elected to Common Pleas Court.
The Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Vincent Guest, a Tartaglione family friend assigned to the Diocese of Camden.
Guest is a product of St. Bernard Parish and Father Judge High School, and a lawyer and former 65th Ward Democratic committeeman who worked in the administration of Gov. Bob Casey.
Guest described Tartaglione as a woman of faith under her tough exterior who helped Democrats and Republicans. He recalls her telling him, “Vince, being in politics is all about helping people.” ••