Ethel L. Ciavarelli, 96, nurse and funeral-home owner

Ethel L.Ciavarelli
Ethel L.Ciavarelli
Posted: January 03, 2013

Ethel Louise Ciavarelli, 96, who helped her husband in the family funeral-home business in Conshohocken while also working as a nurse, died of a heart ailment Sunday, Dec. 30, at Regina Nursing Center in Norristown.

Born in Philadelphia, she moved at 5 to Barnegat, N.J. She graduated from Barnegat High School, then trained as a registered nurse at Women's Homeopathic Hospital in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Ciavarelli supervised the hospital's pediatric department for a year, then worked for an insurance company as a visiting nurse in Roxborough, Manayunk, and East Falls.

She met Emil J. Ciavarelli, her husband of 62 years, at a dance. The two established their first funeral home in 1948 at 525 Fayette St. in Conshohocken. He died in 1997.

In 1972, they moved the business across the street to 516 Fayette. Eight years later, they opened a second site in Ambler.

While working with her husband in the family business, Mrs. Ciavarelli was a school nurse in the Conshohocken School District, serving four schools for four years.

She was the first president and organizer of the Home and School Association of SS. Cosmas and Damian School, as well as the Columbus Civic Association Auxiliary. She taught a class on home nursing and first aid at the Fellowship House of Conshohocken, and headed a well-baby clinic there for many years.

Mrs. Ciavarelli was on the board of directors of the Visiting Nurse Association and was a past president of the Conshohocken Business and Professional Women's Association, which in 1976 chose her as its Woman of the Year.

She volunteered with the former Sacred Heart Hospital Auxiliary, the Mercy Suburban Hospital Auxiliary, the Andrew Lannutti Post Auxiliary, the CBC Club, and the Colonial Neighborhood Council. She was a member of the Red Hat Society.

She chaired the walkathon sponsored by the Sons of Italy in Norristown and was block captain for the March of Dimes. Mrs. Ciavarelli was a member of SS. Cosmas and Damian Church and St. Rita's Sodality.

"She was also involved with many church activities, especially the annual feast, where she cooked in the kitchen," said her son, William L. "She was always ready to do charity work in the community whenever and wherever she was contacted to help."

In 1992, she and her husband were chosen to go to Italy by the Philadelphia Columbus Civic Association for the 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first landing in the Americas. During the trip, they had a private audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

In addition to her son, she is survived by a daughter, Suzanne Tossini; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild; a sister; and many nieces and nephews.

Viewing from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at the Emil J. Ciavarelli Family Funeral Homes, 516 Fayette St., Conshohocken, will be followed by a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass on Friday, Jan. 4, at SS. Cosmas and Damian Church, 209 W. Fifth Ave., Conshohocken, Pa. 19428.

Interment is in Calvary Cemetery. Donations may be made to the church.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or

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