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Marcella Dalsey Obituary

Marcella Dalsey (Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Marcella Dalsey (Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Marcella "Marcy" Dalsey represented something different to the different people who knew her.

She was an ambitious Eagles cheerleader, one-time Haddonfield ice cream shop owner, mother on the run - and, more recently, an education shepherd.

On Sunday, Denise Didinger Bock just wanted to talk to her longtime friend about the fatal jet crash and offer support.

"There was no answer. I kept trying," she said. Bock soon learned her friend had been aboard. "There was nothing I could do," said Bock, whose friendship with Dalsey began on Eagles sidelines.

At 59, Dalsey had become executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation and president of the KATZ Academy Charter School in Camden, which she co-founded in 2012 with Katz. On Monday, students buzzed about the campus as Dalsey was recalled as a hands-on leader who would run to a store if the tape supply depleted.

"Even though she was the tiniest person in the room, she was your guardian," said principal Tishara Landi, 41.

"She had such a big spirit," said Janet Laboy, 47, of Cramer Hill, embracing son Wilmiguel Velez, a fourth grader. "We cried."

Before she was Miss Marcy, Dalsey had made a name for herself in Haddonfield. She raised four children, Chelsea, Bobby, Grace, and John, and was active with Haddonfield Plays and Players. (In 1998, she played Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz.) For costumes, she would go to a consignment shop on Ellis Street, recalled the now-closed shop's owner, Grace Parsons, 74.

Parsons' grandchildren played with a friend in the late afternoon inside Gracie's Ice Cream Parlor, which Dalsey opened in 1995 and named after her youngest daughter.

"A lot of people still relate this place to her," said Nancy Maniscalco, the shop's current owner. "It was her baby."

Dalsey graduated from Pennsauken High School and for a time studied nursing.

In 1980, Dalsey and Bock met as they spent a summer trying out for the Eagles cheer squad, then the Liberty Belles. Bock remembers the exhilaration when the two learned they had made the cut.

"We were the rookies together," Bock recalled.

The duo's first season, the squad traveled to New Orleans and the two roomed together for Super Bowl XV against the Oakland Raiders, in 1981.

In 2009, a reunion for cheer alumni rekindled Dalsey's relationship with former teammate Debbie Brady, wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady. Brady said she was not surprised about Dalsey's evolution into education: "She was the first one to volunteer to attend charity events."

Mary Jo Gallagher recalled her friend collecting coats every winter for children in Camden. "She was not somebody to sit back and not do something," Gallagher said.

Dalsey had recently become passionate about increasing awareness of homeless veterans in Camden's Tent City.

In 2010, while she worked in marketing for Katz's Interstate Outdoor Advertising, Dalsey helped erect a billboard on Route 130 in Pennsauken deploring conditions in the encampment. The board asked for pledges to the Volunteers of America's Home for the Brave in Camden, a transitional housing facility.

"It was very organic," said Melissa Helmbrecht, executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. The two worked on similar initiatives.

"She would have an experience, see something, have an idea - and just go with it," Helmbrecht said.

Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Published in Courier-Post on June 5, 2014
Marcella M. Dalsey Haddonfield, NJ May 31, 2014. Mother of Chelsea Dalsey, Robert Dalsey, Grace Dalsey and John Dalsey. Daughter of Marcella Jennings and the late Russell Finger. Loving partner... Read Obituary
Published on Philly.com on June 5, 2014
DALSEY MARCELLA M., May 31, 2014, of Haddonfield NJ. Mother of Chelsea, Robert, Grace and John Dalsey. Daughter of Marcella Jennings and the late Russell Finger. Loving partner of Joe Salema.... Read Obituary

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