Catherine Frances “Frankie” Cataldo
Catherine Frances “Frankie” Cataldo (nee Salmon) died July 26, 2023, aged 92. Relatives and friends are invited to a celebration of life on September 17, 2023, 2pm at the Foulkeways at Gwynedd Community Center. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Frankie’s name may be made to the Foulkeways Employee Vacation & Holiday fund (Foulkeways at Gwynedd, 1120 Meetinghouse Road, Gwynedd, PA 19436).
Frankie was born in Philadelphia on September 2nd, 1930 to William J. Salmon and Ellen (“Nellie”) Callahan, both of whom were immigrants from Ireland. The family lived at 5328 Oakland Street in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. Frankie had one sister, Mary, who was three years older. Two other siblings died in infancy. Nellie died when Frankie was 15 months old and the two girls were raised by their father, several relatives from Ireland, and a number of different housekeepers. Frankie attended St Martin of Tours Catholic grade school and Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls.
When she was 18, she dabbled in modeling (including print ads in Life magazine) and was offered a job in New York City but she chose to stay in Philadelphia to be closer to her father. Soon after, she took a position as secretary in the art department at Gray & Rogers advertising firm in Center City where she met her first husband, Eugene McGarvey. They started their family in Mt. Airy and later moved to Wyndmoor. They had 3 daughters, Elise, Susan and Jane.
The marriage ended after 12 years and Frankie returned to work as a secretary at several Wyndmoor companies including General Atronics Corporation. She got her girls a schnauzer puppy named Buttons (“Buzzy”) who quickly became another family member. Frankie later worked in sales at various furniture stores where she was able to put her keen sense of design and style to good use. She enjoyed backyard gardening, skiing in the Poconos, and spending time at the Jersey shore and in Vermont with close friends. Once her youngest daughter was in college, she was more open to “dating”. She met Al Cataldo, who would become her 2nd husband, while helping him to decorate his apartment. Frankie quit sales at that point and started her own interior decorating business. The two continued to live in Wyndmoor and had many fun adventures together. Al occasionally traveled for work and he took Frankie with him to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hawaii. They enjoyed spending time with their 13 grandchildren, and loved vacationing in Avalon and Stone Harbor, NJ. Later, they spent winters at their condominium in Naples, Florida. When Al started to lose his eyesight from macular degeneration, they decided to move into the Foulkeways retirement community. Frankie volunteered at the Foulkeways library and delivered juice and cookies to residents on hospice or recovering from illness in the skilled nursing facility. Frankie loved to play Scrabble, read novels, go to movies, plays and museums, cook wonderful meals for her family, work on crossword puzzles with Al, and have the occasional glass of wine with dinner. She was a big fan of driving up to NYC to see Broadway shows and, at Christmas, to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and all the displays of lights.
Frankie was well-known to be somewhat proper and very particular about appearances. She loved to shop for fabrics for her seamstress to make her custom clothes. She had her hair done on Friday every week since she was 18. However, she also had a silly side and could laugh at herself. There are many photographs of her sticking her tongue out at the camera or wearing outlandish hats or wigs.
In her later years, she developed dementia and, upon Al’s death in 2018, moved into assisted living at Foulkeways. They had been married for 35 years. While this was a very difficult transition, she still had many happy moments spending time with her daughters and grandchildren, traveling to Colorado and California, eating her favorite Chinese food and still winning at Scrabble! Her quick wit and opinions remained intact as did her politeness and kindness to all. She frequently acted as caregiver to other residents whom she saw needed help.
The last 2 years, an amazing caregiver, Rosemary Rogers, came into her life. Rosemary would take Frankie outside in her wheelchair and they would enjoy the cloud formations, the beautiful grounds at Foulkeways and the sunshine and breeze on their faces. Rosemary was the final blessing in Frankie’s long and happy life.