Zachary Alf and Ryann Marie Meo hadn’t yet built deep resumés or traveled the world, but the siblings made their mark nonetheless.
She loved to dance, at any hour, and would light up any room she entered. With his hair tied back in a man bun, he was known for dashing around their Grays Ferry neighborhood on his bike.
Zachary was 3, and his sister Ryann was 7. Both died in an early morning fire Nov. 21 that engulfed their rowhouse on the 1500 block of South 30th Street. Their names were only made public this week.
While the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, the Philadelphia medical examiner said their deaths, from smoke inhalation, were accidental.
Their mother, Gianna Alf, jumped from a second-floor window cradling their baby sister as firefighters worked to rescue those inside. Alf sustained back and foot injuries. The 9-month-old baby, Katie Jo, was not injured and was expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday, her mother said.
The children were identified by the Danjolell-Barone Memorial Home in Wallingford. “This is heartbreaking,” said Lisa Cerami, an administrator at the funeral home.
The pair were a familiar sight in their South Philly neighborhood. Zachary “knew he was cute” and Ryann was always giving out compliments, their mother said.
“Everyone in the neighborhood knew Zachary for his man bun and bike, and you better watch out because he was coming in fast,” the Alf family said in a statement. “There was nothing like the love he had [for his family]. 30th Street will never be the same without Bubby.”
Ryann’s sweet voice and smile “could thaw even the coldest heart,” the family said. “She loved unicorns and anything that was like a rainbow because they were bright and beautiful. She loved her family and friends, especially her best friend, Zaniyah Williams.”
Zachary was not yet in school, but Ryann attended Universal Alcorn Charter School in South Philly. She wanted to be a doctor but “danced 24/7,” Alf said.
“My daughter was a bright, beautiful personality,” the children’s mother said. “My son was still a baby. I smile, thinking of him in heaven.”
In addition to their mother, the children are survived by their father, Sean Alf; stepbrother Sean and baby sister Catherine “Katie Jo” Alf; grandparents Christy Pagan and Jason O’Neill, Mike and Kelly Alf, and Mike Strolli; great-grandparents; and a large extended family.
A viewing will be held from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, followed by a noon funeral at the Danjolell-Barone Memorial Home, 908 S. Providence Rd., Wallingford, Pa. 19086. Interment is private.
Contributions may be made to Help for the Alf Meo family GoFundMe page. The fund has been created by the children’s aunt, Dominique Meo.