Eleanor Russell, 91, Realty Office Manager

Posted: December 30, 1991

Eleanor La Battaglia Russell, who for nearly 70 years watched the world change from her real estate office at 15th and Tasker streets in South Philadelphia, died Saturday. She was 91 and lived in the University City section of West Philadelphia.

She was of the old school, and proud of it.

Even at age 87, when she retired as office manager, Russell still did most of her figuring with a pencil and paper, said her nephew, Robert Bocchino. In the age of the electronic calculator, she would rarely even use the office's ancient adding machine, he said.

"She would do it all by hand," Bocchino said. "I think she was proud of that."

It was also important to Russell that she could remember addresses and phone numbers, as well as historical names and dates.

"Someone trained today could say this is trivial," he said. "But to her the dates and the facts and figures were extremely important. I think it represented not a peculiarity, but an era that's gone."

A native of the city, Russell was graduated from Southern High School (now South Philadelphia High) in 1918. World War I was still raging, and for a short time she worked at the Philadelphia Naval Base in an area relating to seaplanes, her nephew said.

Although her plan in high school was to become a teacher, she went to work after the war ended as a clerk-typist at the A.F. Russell Realty firm, a few doors from her family's home.

She stayed there for almost the rest of her life, becoming a bookkeeper, notary public, investment property manager and office manager. In 1949 she married Harry A. Russell, son of the firm's founder. After her husband died in 1968, she remained as office manager under a new owner,

The real estate office "was her life," Bocchino said. "She just kept going and going and going."

What was remarkable, he said, was that she spent so many years "in exactly the same place, at the same desk, on the same side the of the room. The world kind of changed around her."

Although she had a desk, Russell spent most of the day standing at the long counter, sitting only when she needed to type.

A quiet woman, she made it a point never to speak ill of anyone, her nephew said.

"She would say, 'That's the way my mother taught me,' " he said.

Many people in the neighborhood came to Russell for help with tax and insurance forms and other matters, and she was always glad to help them - without charge.

"It was in her nature to be helpful," Bocchino said. "She couldn't say no."

In her spare time, Russell enjoyed playing bridge, and was a past member of the Iris Club, a group for bridge players. She was a member of the parish of St. Francis de Sales, and a past member of the Society of Our Lady of Guadelupe, and of the Jesuit Seminary Guild.

She is surived by a step-daughter, Jane Arnold; six sisters, Catherine Savino, Lucy La Battaglia, Helen Malenky, Gilda Frascone, Gertrude Meenan and Thelma Ponti, five nephews and three nieces.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Church of St. Francis De Sales, 47th Street and Springfield Avenue, where friends may call an hour before. Burial will be in Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Sproul and Crum Creek Roads, Marple Township, Delaware County.

LORETTA WHITE

Loretta White, an active member of her community, died Tuesday. She was 49 and lived in North Philadelphia.

The former Loretta Boggs, White had been a volunteer at the Walton Elementary School at 27th and Huntingdon streets as a teacher's aide and worked every year in voter registration drives.

"We need more people in the community like her," said Vivian Williams, a neighbor and director of the Help Us Now organization. "She was a special person. She cared that there was crack in the neighborhood. She tried to do something to help the community. She helped organize community meetings so people could make changes in the community."

She had recently completed business school. White was a member of Rising Sun Baptist Church. Her late husband was Moses White.

Survivors include a son, Moses White Jr.; a daughter, Venita Turner; her father, Warner Boggs, four grandchildren, five brothers and five sisters.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Rising Sun Baptist Church, 745 S. 12th St., where friends may call one hour before the services. Friends may also call between 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday, at the Powell Funeral Home, 2432 N. 27th St. Burial will be in Mount Peace Cemetery, 3111 W. Lehigh ave.

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