What does one say about a mother who blazed a great trail for her children, who encourage each of them to hit the highest notes available, and was always there to help, to cajole, and to support? What does one say about a mother who keenly recognized that each of her children had different personalities, different skills, and most critically, different attributes that need love and emphasis according to the individual? What does one say about a mother who gave each of us 95 years of her life—with love, with meaning, and with unfailing guidance?
A normal obituary simply will not suffice; yet our mother would rebel at made up phrases. So, let us just say that we will miss her more than words can capture—and move forward with a tribute, not an obituary.
Mrs. Theresa Marie Tasillo Healy, 95 of 66 Church Street, Port Allegany, PA, formerly of Coudersport, PA, entered into eternal life on Saturday, October 17, 2015, in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, surrounded by her family.
Theresa was born May 24, 1920, in Coudersport, the daughter of the Lawrence Eugene Tasillo (Coudersport) and Phoebe Leone Scott Tasillo (Ulysses). Lawrence Tasillo was, at the age of 21, the youngest engineer for the Coudersport and Port Allegany (C&PA) railroad; Phoebe was a schoolteacher and an accomplished pianist. Theresa was the eldest of three siblings, Donna Jean Tasillo Lehman (deceased) and Lawrence E. “Corky” Tasillo, Jr. of Coudersport.
Theresa graduated with honors from Coudersport High School in 1938. In high school, among many activities, she was class secretary, involved in various plays, and played violin in the school orchestra. From grade school through high school, Theresa knew what was next. As she wrote in her journal, “When I was in grade school, I had my future planned that I was going to be a hairdresser. My small purchase of a package of “wild root wave set” put me in the business. I would go to various neighbors’ homes for my customers. I made about $1.95 per week, which was a great business for kids.” That passion for beauty led her to the Modernella School of Beauty Culture in Philadelphia, PA. After receiving her Cosmetology license, Theresa returned to Coudersport where she opened her first Beauty Shoppe.
In 1937, Theresa met Robert Joseph (Bob) Healy from Port Allegany. They were married at St. Eulalia Roman Catholic Church in Coudersport on February 16, 1942, a marriage of over 70 years from which they have five children, Robert (Bob), Colleen, Barry, Brian and Bret. Her beloved husband entered into eternal life on Sunday, February 12, 2012.
Theresa and Bob moved to Port Allegany, where Theresa located her first Port Allegany Beauty Shoppe on the second floor on Main Street. In this Shoppe, Theresa employed other hairdressers, and encouraged women to enter into the cosmetology profession, many of whom later opened their own salons.
In 1942, Theresa and Bob purchased land at 66 Church Street, and built their lifelong home, housing, of course, Theresa’s Beauty Shoppe. During World War II, while many women in the area, worked in the factories located in the Port Allegany, Eldred, and Emporium area, Theresa’s Beauty Shoppe was a hub of late night hairdos. Many of the women worked shifts so Theresa would work odd hours to accommodate her customers. Often, they would enjoy a cup of tea with cookies, cherry pie and homemade fudge, which Theresa had made for the family and her customers.
Theresa loved her work as a hairdresser. Although, she never thought of her chosen career as work, she considered it a “sheer delight”. Theresa, and other hairdressers from the surrounding towns, would often travel to Beauty Shows to see and experience the latest news in the Hairdressing profession. These trips would take her to many cities including, New York City, Toronto, and Washington, DC. Theresa’s Beauty Shoppe was a Port Allegany Institution that she continued to operate until 2015. She was a licensed Cosmetologist for 77 years. Her last haircut was for Thomas Michael Coneys, a lifelong family friend of her kids—and another son to her and Bob. During their later years, Mike was a constant source of assistance and joy to them. They both looked forward to his almost daily visits.
Long before it became popular, Theresa believed strongly in the idea of lifelong learning. She journaled, “I thought that I would enjoy being a school teacher like my mother. After I was married and had children, I decided to take college courses. I took one course per semester, and fulfilled my early plans, when, in 1981, at the age of 61, I received my Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Pittsburgh.” In addition, she received a teaching degree in the field of Cosmetology. And, never one to allow herself to be idle, in 1989, she received her certification in Professional Interior Design from The Sheffield School of Interior Design, New York, renamed The New York Institute of Art and Design (NYIAD).
Theresa instilled in her five kids the never-ending quest for knowledge and she was so proud that Bob and their five children received advanced degrees.
Theresa’s immediate world may have been Coudersport and Port Allegany but her outlook was decidedly global. She enjoyed traveling and experiencing cultures throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe and Central and South America. Theresa’s grandparents were born in Frosolone, Italy. She was very proud of her Italian heritage and enjoyed her trips to Italy where she returned to her grandparents’ home. On many of their trips, one or more of their children accompanied them.
It was not all work or career for Theresa. She and Bob loved to dance, with many a Saturday night spent at the Moose Club dances. Indeed, they would often dance in the kitchen, after a round of dominoes. Bob would serenade Mom and leave “roses are red” missives every morning before he left for work.
Theresa enjoyed baking, knitting and sewing. We, her children, and the 10 grandchildren, have knitted Christmas stockings and all have colorful clothes that our Mom would sew in-between hair appointments. Beautiful draperies, quilts, clothes and so many other items were a testament to her love of sewing and design. There was always a pan of fudge, cookies, cherry pie, jellyrolls and a “war cake” available to anyone who walked into the Healy house.
After Beauty Shoppe hours, Theresa indulged in one or more of her “non-work” passions. She was an avid coin collector— searching for that illusive 1909 VDB Penny. Ever methodical, her coins were neatly placed in multiple coin collection books—each one given to her family and grandchildren. Theresa’s other interest revolved around entering contests—word and phrase contests. Writing limericks, finishing sentences, and finding just the right combination that would be a winning entry. Moreover, she was successful—winning a bicycle, a dishwasher for her Camp on the Billy Lewis Road near Coudersport, and a host of “Honorable Mentions.”
Theresa’s parents, her sister, Donna Jean Tasillo Lehman, her beloved husband, Bob, of 70 years, and her baby grandson, Jonathan Bryan Healy, preceded Theresa in death.
Theresa is survived by her brother, Lawrence E. “Corky” Tasillo, Jr. of Coudersport, her children, Bob (Janet) , Colleen, Barry (Judy) , Brian (Tracy) , and Bret (Cindy); nine grandchildren, Meghan (Michael) Paradise, Minnah (Rob) Peper, Trenten (Siravadee), Michael, William, Christopher, Zachary, Shannon and Brock Healy; and six great-grandchildren; Tahlia, Sienah and Chayse Peper, Taite and Jax Paradise, Mason Healy, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
She was a member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 10:00 am, with Reverend James Campbell officiating.
The family would like to suggest that memorials might be made to the Port Area Ambulance Service and St. Gabriel the Archangel Maternity Closet.