Gloria had a final cigarette (she preferred Marlboro 100s) before she entered Aria Health's Frankford Hospital, and a last slug of her favorite Bailey's Irish Cream in a Styrofoam cup in her hospital room the night before she died Friday at age 86.
"She loved working with children, as a crossing guard and at her church," said her daughter, Peggy Campellone. "She liked being with young children. She always said if you hang out with the young you'll always feel young."
That she had a youthful spirit was obvious in her relations with her family and friends and her love of sports.
"She was always so happy," said her daughter, who is retired from the classified-ad department of the Daily News and Inquirer. "She liked to have a good time. She had arthritis, but that didn't stop her."
Gloria Sickel was born in Philadelphia to John Sanford Kennedy and the former Elizabeth Burke. She attended St. Martin of Tours Parochial School and graduated from Little Flower High School for Girls in 1944.
"She was really smart," her daughter said. "She was at the top of her class at Little Flower."
Gloria worked for a time for the U.S. Naval Base before marrying Sig Sickel on May 8, 1948. They had four children and Gloria was kept busy as a mom and homemaker. Sig died on Nov. 18, 1989.
Gloria worked as a census taker in 1960, then became a school crossing guard, seeing children safely across busy intersections. She then volunteered as a lunch monitor at St. Martin's School, and later as a door monitor.
"We asked her once what she would do if someone came to the school who didn't belong there," her daughter said. "She said, 'I'd hit 'em with my cane.' "
She also did other volunteer work for the church (she had her own parking space), and was active with her fellow seniors there.
"She was very independent," her daughter said. "Her mind was always sharp, but she felt her body had let her down. When we asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she would say, 'A new body.' "
Gloria was active with the Summerdale Boys Club, of which her husband had been president. She coached the softball team.
She was proud of her Irish heritage, and made several trips to Ireland. She and her late friend, Betty MacNeil, traveled together, and Peggy Campellone once went with her.
A devout Catholic, Gloria was proud of the rosary she bought in Ireland.
It was her faith, in fact, that helped her cope with the death of her son, Jack, who died at age 48.
Besides her daughter, she is survived by two sons, Edward, a former Philadelphia police officer, and Thomas Sickel, and 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Services: Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Martin of Tours Church, 5450 Roosevelt Blvd. Friends may call at 7 tonight at the Joseph A. Quinn Funeral Home, Roosevelt Boulevard and Sanger Street. Burial will be at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery.
Donations in her name may be made to the church.