Patricia Merbreier, better known to scores of Philadelphia's now-grown children as Mrs. Noah, died Thursday night after a long illness. She was 86.

Merbreier entered Delaware Valley homes on Channel 6, alongside her husband W. Carter Merbreier, a/k/a Captain Noah, on "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark." About 3,600 shows aired between 1967 and 1994.

While Carter wore the captain's hat, it was Patricia who operated the puppets, like Mumwah the Monster.

There also were occasional celebrity cameos, such as Elvis Presley and Charles Barkley. The Phillie Phanatic made his public debut on the show in 1978 as a guest of then-catcher Tim McCarver.

When the Merbreiers were honored as the "Persons of the Year" by the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia in 2001, they insisted on being listed as Captain and Mrs. Noah. They are also members of the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.

Merbreier is survived by her husband; a daughter, Pam Cowie, granddaughters Abigail Birch and Ashley Nuttall; and four great-grandchildren.

Services: Will be Friday at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church at East Athens Avenue and Wynnewood Road in Ardmore. Contributions can be sent to the Scholarship Fund-Broadcast Pioneers, Box 2886, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.