What does Marcella Erma Corazza Fellin, a Philadelphia Protestant Home resident, have in common with Jackie Robinson, Nat King Cole, Eva Gabor and Jayne Meadows? They were all born 100 years ago.
What does she have over them? She’s outlived them all.
Family and friends gathered at the PPH last Wednesday to celebrate Fellin’s centenarian-making birthday. The party included cake, speeches in appreciation of Fellin and citations from state Rep. Jared Solomon as well as from state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle’s offices.
Fellin was born in 1919 when Woodrow Wilson was president. She graduated from Freeland High School in 1937 and as a teenager enjoyed roller skating, sledding and swimming – she could swim 4 miles, turn around and swim 4 miles back.
She worked at Newberry’s Five and Ten Cent store after graduating, and later worked at a shirt factory. In 1947 she married Angelo Fellin at St. Anthony’s Church in Freeland, Luzerne County and honeymooned in New York City so they could enjoy Broadway shows.
After Angelo (or Angie, as she affectionately called him) returned from being overseas with the military for four years, the couple traveled to cities all across the country for Army division reunions. Afterward, the couple moved to Oxford Circle, living on Summerdale Avenue until Angelo passed away in 2001. Fellin moved to PPH in 2005, becoming a beloved neighbor on the third floor of Lawndale.
Fellin’s nieces Donna and Janice Corazza spoke about their role model, recalling visiting Aunt Marcella and Uncle Angie in Philadelphia and taking trips to the city and to the beach.
“At the end of the day we loved sitting on the stoop when it was getting dark, and just sitting there having that memory is implanted in our memory forever,” Janice said.
Donna recalled many anecdotes growing up with Aunt Marcella, such as admiring her strength as she moved into PPH. On a family trip to Atlantic City, the family stopped at a Johnny Rockets, where waitresses are known for doing regular line dances.
“Aunt Marcella decided she needed to get up and line dance with them,” Donna said to laughs from the audience. “And she did great and the whole restaurant clapped for her. I’ll never forget that.”
On another trip to Atlantic City, Marcella and her sister went off on their own, forgetting what hotel room and even floor they were on.
“This happened multiple times, they’d go to wrong rooms that were occupied and met all kinds of people,” Donna said. “They’d come back giggling about it, and then I’d have to take them to the right room.”
Fellin remained silent during most of the speeches, but after her nieces were finished talking she stood to announce Donna was celebrating her birthday that day as well.
Solomon attended the celebration, sharing Marcella’s life story with the audience and presenting her with a citation.
“It’s really my honor, Marcella, to wish you a very happy birthday and present you with this citation,” he said.
After being honored, Fellin enjoyed cake with her family and friends. She attributes her long life to staying away from drinking alcohol and smoking. Her philosophy is to keep moving forward in life, stay involved with those around you and remember there’s always someone worse off than you.
Here’s to many more. ••