CARMELLA GOSSÉ was a liberal Democrat, a political junkie, a devoted Catholic, a loyal Phillies fan and a family matriarch who never forgot a birthday.

Even nieces and nephews always got a birthday card with a $20 bill enclosed, even after they were grown up.

And when she could no longer get out to the stores, she used the QVC shopping network to buy gifts for the family.

As for the Phillies, she never missed a game on TV, and was thrilled when Harry Kalas mentioned her name during a broadcast.

As for her religion, she never missed Mass at her church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in West Berlin, N.J., as long as she could get there.

"She was a Catholic to her fingertips," said Sister Theresa Hynes, of the Sisters of Mercy, who brought Carmella communion daily when she could no longer get to church. "She was very spiritual."

Carmella Gossé (pronounced go-say), who grew up in a large Italian family with six siblings and who raised three children on her own after her husband's early death, died Monday. She was 88 and lived in West Berlin.

In her later years, she endured a number of critical illnesses, including a brain tumor and coronary bypass surgery, without complaint.

"She suffered silently," Sister Theresa said. "I knew she was in pain, but she never let on. She was always very pleasant and in good humor."

"She was perhaps the kindest person I ever met, a real saint on earth who would do anything for anybody," said a nephew, Paul Davies, deputy editorial editor of the Inquirer.

"She was always upbeat and never complained."

Carmella was born in Philadelphia to Dominick and Delia Iero. She graduated from Frankford High School and went to work for the main post office at 30th and Market streets.

It was there that she met her husband, Thomas J. Gossé. They had three children before his death from a heart attack in 1950 at the age of 39.

After his death, Carmella worked in the rectory of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, pastored at the time by the late Rev. Msgr. Salvatore J. Adamo, who was a columnist for the Daily News in the 1990s.

She then moved on to Adamo's Catholic Star-Herald in Camden, where she worked in advertising. She took a bus to the job (she didn't have a driver's license), leaving home at 6 a.m. and often not getting home until 8 to take care of the kids.

She was there for 17 years, but, after Adamo left the paper, she tried to unionize the five employees. The union was defeated 3-2, and she was laid off.

Carmella then took a secretarial job with Berlin Township, working there for 15 years before she retired.

"She was spunky, opinionated, intelligent and very dedicated to her family," said her daughter Catherine Gossé. "She loved to surprise the family with gifts from QVC. There had to be a cake for every birthday."

Her favorite sports were baseball and tennis.

"If I called her during a tennis match on TV, she would say, 'I can't talk now. I have to hang up,' " Catherine said. "She loved to talk sports and politics."

"She loved politics," said her son, Thomas J. Gossé. "She was happy about Obama - after a while. She had been a Hillary Clinton fan and was disappointed she didn't win. She loved the Clintons.

"She was energetic, opinionated, willful and independent."

Carmella also is survived by another daughter, Camille Gibson, and two grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. today at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, White Horse Pike, West Berlin, N.J. Burial will be private. *