REBA E. RIGNEY, a popular beautician and hairstylist whose crocheting and knitting skills supplied the family with more blankets, sweaters, hats, scarfs and other items than they could ever use, died Wednesday. She was 82 and lived all of her adult years in North Philadelphia.
Keeping Reba's 12 children clothed, fed and educated was something of a challenge since she was widowed at an early age.
"She had eight children in Catholic schools at the same time," said her daughter Cynthia Rigney-Brown (No. 10 in the order of births). "That must have been pretty expensive."
But Reba was a beautician and hairstylist in great demand, always operating out of her home. Although she stopped doing it in the '70s, "people are still talking about her," her daughter said.
Reba enjoyed helping others and was a soft touch when it came to charities. She discovered that if she gave to one charity, she would soon be inundated by others seeking her donations. She did her best to keep up.
She was taught to knit and crochet in her teens by a nun, her daughter said. "Then she went crazy." She began turning out knit goods at a rapid rate.
Reba also was a legendary cook, specializing in the Southern style taught to her by her mother, the former Myrtle Ricks, who was from Virginia.
Most of the delicacies thought of as "soul food" came out of her kitchen, including chitterlings and pig's feet and all the trimmings.
Because there were so many hungry mouths to feed, she had to have a couple of settings for each meal.
"She wasn't the kind of mother who would make you sit until you ate what was on your plate," Cynthia said. "There were too many of us for that."
She enjoyed nothing more than hosting big dinners for family and friends.
For relaxation, she liked to kick back with a good western novel or watch country-and-western music videos.
"She was Mom to everyone," her daughter said.
Her father was the late Arthur Rigney. She attended Philadelphia public schools.
Besides her daughter, she is survived by five sons, Derrick, Arthur, Nathaniel, Jon and Steven; four other daughters, Karen Rigney, Judith Rigney-Harrell, Cheryl Rigney and Anna Coles; a sister, E. "Bernice" Coles; 34 grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to count. She was predeceased by two other daughters, Charlene Gates and Maryland Rigney, and two brothers, Melvin and Oliver Rigney.
Services: Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Helena Church, 5th Street and Godfrey Avenue. Friends may call at 9:30 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery, Marple.
Donations may be made to the church. ZIP code is 19120.