Mary V. Babin, 82, keyboard player

Mary V. Babin
Mary V. Babin
Posted: June 21, 2013

Mary V. Babin, 82, whose gift for organ and piano playing launched a career that spanned close to 70 years, died Saturday, June 15, at her home in Springfield, Delaware County.

The former Mary Volkert grew up in Yeadon but spent most of her adult life as a resident of Havertown. Her grandmother taught her to play piano at a young age, and by the time she was 11, she was the full-time organist at the borough's St. Louis Catholic Church. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of music and the church, and she remained a professional organist for the next 68 years. She supported her husband and six children with the income she earned, said her son Edward G.

After graduating from Villa Maria Academy in Malvern in 1948, Mrs. Babin met her future husband at a dance hall in Upper Darby. John H. Babin was legally blind due to a rare disease, and after their marriage in 1951, Mrs. Babin became the family's breadwinner.

"In the '50s and '60s, Dad was the boss for a lot of kids," her son said. "But not in our house. Mom was the boss. And she instilled that drive in all of us, taught us all to work hard and hustle."

John and Mary Babin also owned a discount clothing store in Collingdale. The two were married 56 years until his death in 2007.

Mrs. Babin worked as a full-time organist for 38 years at Sacred Heart Church in Manoa, and also played at weddings, funerals, school functions, and events for churches in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Her performances included the 1976 Eucharistic Congress at the Spectrum, as well as several at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. She often attended the annual national Convention of Pastoral Musicians and served as president of the Association of Church Musicians of Philadelphia in the 1970s.

She retired from the organ bench in 2010 when a disease left her unable to read sheet music. Even then, she remained active in foundations that raise money to fight and cure blindness. She also enjoyed gardening, making friends, bargain hunting, and playing the slots at local casinos.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Babin is survived by sons John and Joseph; daughters Judith Hogan and Mary Bulgarelli; a sister; 19 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Church, Manoa Road and West Chester Pike, Havertown.

Donations may be made to the Diabetes Scholar Foundation at www.diabetesscholars.org, the Foundation Fighting Blindness at www.blindness.org, or Sacred Heart Church at www.sacredheartmanoa.org.


Contact Allison Steele at 610-313-8113 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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