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Elaine Fydrych, actress at theater in Pitman

When she was a child at the school of St. Adalbert Church in Port Richmond, Elaine Szumanski was singled out.

Elaine Szumanski Fydrych
Elaine Szumanski FydrychRead more

When she was a child at the school of St. Adalbert Church in Port Richmond, Elaine Szumanski was singled out.

"One of the nuns told her mother, 'This young girl has a beautiful voice,' " said her husband, Joseph Fydrych. "Her parents began giving her singing lessons, piano lessons. And then, her parents hooked up with a person putting children's acts together."

And that led, years later, to a local production of the musical comedy Nunsense, in which she portrayed a nun.

On Thursday, Aug. 13, Elaine Szumanski Fydrych, 63, of Runnemede, a former actress at the Broadway Theatre in Pitman, died of lung cancer at home.

Mrs. Fydrych grew up near Thompson and Cambria Streets and graduated from Nazareth Academy in 1970.

She worked from 1970 to 1985 at the Independence Square headquarters of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Her performing career had begun in the 1950s, when she sang, danced, and played a ukulele on Philadelphia TV children's shows such as Chief Halftown.

She met her husband in 1977, when she auditioned unsuccessfully for a singer's job with the band in which he played keyboards.

After marrying, "we played together in a cover band for a couple years," he said. "Bars and nightclubs. Our hobby. She just had a love of music."

"In the mid-'90s, she began to sing out again and developed this love for theater," he said.

When the renovated Broadway opened with Nunsense in the late 2000s, her husband said, she got the lead.

Until she retired in 2013, he said, "she would do at least one major show at Pitman" each season, as well as performing with its children's theater.

She acted a few times at the Walnut Street Theatre, among others, and did commercials.

A friend, Lisa Toner, recalled that among her other accomplishments, "she sang in the church choir" at St. Agnes Church in Blackwood.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Fydrych is survived by her mother, Clara Szumanski, and sons Joseph M. and Kevin.

Viewings were set from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, and from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, both at the Gardner Funeral Home, 126 S. Black Horse Pike, Runnemede, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Agnes Church, 701 Little Gloucester Rd., Blackwood, with interment in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Chews Landing.

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