Angeline Bambina Henry, 106, died in her sleep at her assisted living home in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania on Nov. 13. She was a 1935 alumna of Temple University.
Henry was born on Dec. 24, 1912, in Bugnara, Italy, a small mountain village, where she grew up close to her parents and extended family.
Henry’s father, Joesph Castrucci, immigrated to the United States as a 22-year-old in 1905 and later moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania. He sent Henry and her mother 23,000 lira, the former Italian currency, in an enclosed letter back home to support their immigration.
At eight years old, Henry left home for the first time with her mother, Philomena Castrucci, for a 12-day-long trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 1920. They traveled in the cheapest berths of the ship and arrived at Ellis Island, a former immigration station in New York Harbor.
Henry wanted to be a teacher ever since she was five. She completed up to the first grade in Italy where she taught herself English in preparation for school in the U.S. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from New Castle High School in 1931.
She received an $800 senatorial scholarship to cover four years of tuition at Temple and moved to her aunt’s house in Germantown, Philadelphia. She matriculated in the College of Liberal Arts as a French major in 1935, becoming the first person in her family to attend college.
Henry would wake up at 5 a.m. every day to commute to campus. She walked a mile to a bus stop to go to Olney Station and then rode the Broad Street Line subway to Temple’s campus. After her French, German and Spanish courses, she regularly sat in Mitten Hall and listened to people play the piano.
Henry’s scholarship covered everything but a $75 activity fee to be involved in student and professional organizations. During her four years on campus, she was a member of the Women’s League, The Astron Honorary Society, the Liberal Arts Club, and The Pan-Hellenic Association, where she was the president of the Delta Omega sorority. In her sorority, she made close friendships with her sisters, attended Sadie Hawkins dances and designed the chapter’s circle ring with wood seed pearls.
Henry married Paul Henry, in 1947. They connected over their mutual love for philosophy and stayed together until his death in 1987. They had their only child, Maria Henry, on April 14, 1949.
After graduation, she found a job in public assistance but didn’t become a teacher until 1941. Her first teaching job was in the farming community of Plain Grove, Pennsylvania where she taught Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and English languages. She later taught in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh School districts until retiring in 1975.
Maria Henry, 70, said her mother’s death was a peaceful one. In her mother’s last months, she would visit her every day at The Residence at Willow Lane senior living. They described their relationship as a close duo and her mother joked about Maria being a “clone” of her.
Maria Henry said her mother’s days on Temple’s campus were a highlight of her life.
“She has told many people when asked what was the most memorable time in your life she always says her college days at Temple,” she added.
She plans to contribute to a scholarship fund through the College of Liberal Arts to fund a student in Abruzzo, Italy, one of Temple’s sister cities, to honor her mother.
A beautiful story, Maria.It makes me very proud to be related to this wonderful woman.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I always remember my dad talking about her, he really loved your mother. She really had a great interesting life. She Should Be Celebrated!!! Love You and your family, you’ll be in my prayers. I hope to see you soon, but for a Happy Occasion. Think of YOU, Maggie