Yolanda Donatucci, Democratic leader, 102

Yolanda Donatucci
Yolanda Donatucci
Posted: August 20, 2014

There were three pillars in the life of Yolanda Donatucci, her son Ronald said: church, family and education.

And she remained committed to all three, he said, until her death Saturday, Aug. 16, at age 102.

Mrs. Donatucci was born in Philadelphia and followed in the footsteps of her father, who was the designer to Russell Conwell, founder of Temple University.

She graduated from John Wanamaker Institute, specializing in fashion and design. In 1930 she helped create the wedding dress of Mary Todhunter Clark, who married Nelson A. Rockefeller, 41st vice president of the United States.

Fashion inspired Mrs. Donatucci through the decades. She loved to dress up, to sew and design clothes, said her son, the city register of wills.

Even in her late 80s, she was never seen in public without her high heels.

In 1941, she married Thomas F. Donatucci Sr., and dedicated her energy to her family and the work of her husband, a longtime Democratic committeeman.

"She was the person behind the scene," Ronald Donatucci said. Yolanda Donatucci loved to open their house, especially when her husband ran for election. "She would cook and feed 20 people at a time," Ronald said. "That was priceless."

When Thomas Donatucci Sr. died in 1970 at the age of 58, he was serving as a ward leader. A library in South Philadelphia is named after him. Mrs. Donatucci did not marry again.

She stood at Thomas Jr.'s side as he built the Donatucci Kitchens business, and supported her sons Ronald and Robert in their campaigns for public office. Robert, who died in 2010 at 58, was a Pennsylvania state representative for 30 years and a chairman of the Liquor Control Board.

In addition to being the city's longest-sitting register of wills, Ronald Donatucci holds the position of president of the board of city trust.

Mrs. Donatucci was a Democratic committeewoman for more than three decades, until 2006. Then her grandson Thomas was elected to the post, which he still holds.

In 1989 Mrs. Donatucci received the Liberty Bell Award from Mayor W. Wilson Goode for dedication to her community. In 2001 she was recognized with the Leadership Award from Mayor John F. Street for her service to the city and her community.

In addition to her sons Thomas Jr. and Ronald, she is survived by daughters Rita and Maria Louisa, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

A viewing is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at St. Monica's Church, 17th & Ritner Streets. A second viewing will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at St. Monica's Church before a Funeral Mass there at 10:30 a.m.

Contributions may be made to Thomas and Yolanda Donatucci Memorial Scholarship Fund, St. Monica's Church, 2422 S. 17th St., Philadelphia 19145.


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