Cyril E. Daly, 101, of Cherry Hill, a retired civil engineer whose passion was performing with Mummers string bands for more than half a century, died Wednesday, Dec. 13, at Virtua Marlton Hospital.
Born in 1916 in Philadelphia, Mr. Daly graduated from West Catholic Preparatory High School and Villanova University with a degree in civil engineering. He served in the Army during World War II, from 1945, as the conflict was ending, until 1946.
After his military service, he was hired by the former Philadelphia Electric Co. – now Exelon. He worked for the company as a civil engineer until retiring in 1981 in his mid-60s.
Known as "Cy," Mr. Daly married Rose Hughes Daly. The couple had two sons. She is deceased. He married Ruth B. Daly in 1973. She brought with her three children from a previous marriage. Ruth Daly enjoyed following her husband's string band career, according to her online obituary. She died in 2013.
Mr. Daly played the accordion, and his true passion was performing with a series of string bands. He was a member of the DELCO Mummers String Band for 15 years, the Trilby String Band for 12 years, and the Aqua String Band for 25 years.
In 2008, at age 92, he was inducted into the String Band Hall of Fame in Philadelphia. That same year, he also was inducted into the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Old Timer's Hall of Fame and he also made his last appearance on New Year's Day, marching on Broad Street.
His fellow Aqua band members pooled their remembrances of Mr. Daly, writing that he was a gifted musician who performed on the double bass, piano, accordion, alto and tenor saxophones, the guitar, and even the banjo. His first foray into the world of Mummery was in 1932, when he paraded with the Lobster New Years Association, his colleagues wrote.
Because of his great longevity, Mr. Daly played for many bands, including the Upper Darby String Band and the Sterling String Band in Magnolia, N.J.
He was known for his faithful attendance at all Aqua events and was given the band's high-attendance award for many years. In recognition of his many years of participation, the award was renamed the "Cy Daly Attendance Award." Prominently displayed in Aqua's clubhouse in Bridesburg, it is given to a club member each year.
"Cy was well-loved by all the members of Aqua and his many other bands," his colleagues wrote. "He was a man of few words, but forever a gentleman. Cy was one of the kindest, gentlest men you would ever want to meet. He had a sweet and endearing charisma with an innate musical ability and was gracious to everyone he encountered."
Mr. Daly was a longtime member of Holy Saviour Church in Westmont, and he volunteered with Meals on Wheels for many years.
He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Legion Post 230, American Association of Retired Persons in Westmont, and Santa Maria Council No.1443 Knights of Columbus, and he volunteered with the Health Insurance Information Counseling & Assistance Program in Camden.
"He helped people with their income tax returns each year," said his stepdaughter Susan D. Piersanti. "He gave a lot to the community."
In addition to his stepdaughter, he is survived by another stepdaughter, Donna Schuman; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. His sons, Dennis and Francis, and stepson Howard P. Stiles Jr., died earlier.