Magdalena Comly, saintly family matriarch

Posted: July 06, 2012

WHILE THE Phillies, or any other Philadelphia sports team, battled it out on TV in the home of Magdalena Agnes Comly, the action on the screen was often accompanied by the click-clack of crochet needles.

That would have been Magdalena making wedding handkerchiefs for some lucky bride, or baby blankets, while keeping her eyes on the fortunes of her favorite team. All the Philly sports teams were her favorites, and she followed their fortunes in the appropriate seasons, clicking away in her role not only as fan, but as devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Magdalena, a much-loved family matriarch famous for unselfish devotion to her family and her church, died Saturday. She was 94 and lived in Newtown, Bucks County, and formerly lived in Crescentville.

"My mother was one of the most amazing people I have ever met and will probably ever meet," said her daughter, Janice Marie Mann. "She spent her life caring for others. She never put herself before others."

"She would often go out of her way to reach those who were in need," said her son, Richard William Comly. "She was also often a counselor when the times called for it. I knew I could go to her, no matter what the reason or circumstance."

Magdalena, known to her family as "Gramly," was born in Philadelphia to Frederick J. Lukas and Magdalena Agnes Klumpers. She grew up in Olney, where her parents and late brother, Fred J. Lucas, owned a candy store and a beer distributorship.

She worked as a hat designer and hat-maker for a time. She married Harry William Comly, an Air Force veteran, on Sept. 6, 1947.

Her husband, affectionately known as "Handsome Harry," was a church trustee. Magdalena became an active member of the Crescentville Baptist Church. For 30 years, she was the church secretary, ran the nursery-school program, taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school and was involved with the choir. As church secretary, one of her jobs was to coordinate the altar flowers.

She also was a Cub Scout den mother and worked at the polls at election time.

"She was very proud of her accomplishments," her family said.

"She was an avid sponsor of the Wildlife Federation and the Philadelphia Zoo. She loved cats and dogs, fish and her violets. She was a huge sports fan and consistently cheered on the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles."

Magdalena often could be found reading a good book and sipping black coffee. She had a serious sweet tooth.

"Although she suffered from asthma and arthritis, Gramly never complained," her family said. "She always had a welcoming smile and love in her heart to share with all. Each day she wrote in her journal and read her Bible."

Besides her son and daughter, she is survived by six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. Thursday at Crescentville Baptist Church, 521 E. Godfrey Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Forest Hills Cemetery, Southampton.

Donations may be made to the church, at ZIP code 19120. n

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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