After a brief illness, “The Songbird of Southwest Florida,” Mary Darothy Mancine (neé Tironie) died of congestive heart failure at Peace River Hospital on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. She had telephoned her daughters earlier, and Patrice was in her hospital room during their last moments together.
Born Jan. 19, 1927, in Muncy, Pa., Mary turned 87 in January. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Vito “Bill” Mancine, who died on America’s special day, July 4, 2010, two days before his 87th birthday.
Both before and after they were married on July 30, 1945, Bill was always at Mary’s side and in attendance at virtually her every singing engagement, of which there were thousands. Mary lived for her “Bill,” her family and her music. Just before his death, Mary sang her husband’s favorite song, “Smile,” at Bill’s bedside.
Along with her sisters, Marion (now deceased) and Ruth Alice, Mary began singing with her father’s band when she was 10. They had shows on two radio stations at Williamsport, Pa., and were once on the same bill with the Ink Spots. She also sang with the band led by her late brother, Bernard, and also with the Sammy Ray Orchestra. Interestingly, Mary visited Pennsylvania last summer to see bandleader Sammy, who, at 97, continues to live in a nursing home there with his wife.
After moving to Florida in 1986, Mary worked with various local musical groups, including dual-sax man Ron Drischel’s Trio at Snook Haven for about two decades and, most recently, at Allegro Bistro. Since the 1990s, she sang regularly with the Dixie Spirit Band at numerous locations, including their long run at TJ Carney’s in downtown Venice, Fla.
Mary’s vocal talents also added considerably to many other musical groups throughout Southwest Florida. She was an expressive, rich-toned singer who would have been a star if touring with big bands in their era. Among her most requested tunes were “Someday You’ll Be Sorry,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?” “Embraceable You,” “’Deed I Do,” “Every Day of My Life,” “You Belong to Me” and a country-flavored version of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”
A visiting bandleader from Ohio said, “She’s one of the best I’ve ever heard.” Her numerous fans agree wholeheartedly, fondly remembering that “she sang the songs we know and love.”
Mary was an inspiration to many musicians, helping them to “get connected” with others in the area, thus forming long-lasting friendships and creating much superb music.
Mary and Bill are sadly missed by their four children, Adrienne and husband, Dave Smith, Mary Mancine, James, and Patrice and husband, Elton Latsha; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
All are happy that Mary’s wish, to finally be reunited with her beloved Bill, is now coming true.
Services: Following cremation in Florida, a springtime memorial service and burial will take place in Pennsylvania, right beside her best buddy Bill, of course. Arrangements are by Paul Schelm Funeral Home, Lake Suzy, Fla. To share memories and to send condolences to the Mancine family, visit Mary’s tribute wall at: SchelmFH.com.