Mary J. Frederick, a seamstress for Sun Clothes Co. for more than 30 years, a fiercely independent woman who didn't let living into her late 90s hold her back, died Sunday after a brief illness.

She was 97 and lived in West Philadelphia.

"Nana was a feisty lady for her 97 years," said her grandson, Thomas Carter, an executive assistant to Gov. Rendell.

"Her mind was sharp as a razor.

"Every morning, like clockwork, she prepared her breakfast, made her own bed, took care of her own hygiene. She even washed dishes and did her own laundry."

She had been in good health until recently, and her death was unexpected.

Mary was born in Bronson, S.C., the only daughter of Ervin and Freelove Allen-Holmes.

She was educated in public schools there.

She had lived in West Philadelphia since arriving in the city in 1937.

In 1950, she met the love of her life, Sylvester Frederick, who worked for the old Pennsylvania Railroad. He died in 1975.

Two days before her 90th birthday, July 24, 2000, her granddaughter, Wilberta, gave birth to a son, David. He quickly became the "apple of Nana's eye," Wilberta said.

"She taught my son the alphabet, how to count and tell time, and also how to read," said Wilberta.

After her retirement, Mary remained active in the community - "extending a helping hand to those in most need," her grandson said.

Mary was an avid 76ers and Eagles fan, and rarely missed watching the games on TV.

She also is survived by her daughter, Bernice Carter, and sister, Elouise Moore.

Services: 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Bibleway Baptist Church, 1323 N. 52nd St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Chelten Hills Cemetery. *