Daniel LaBrada, 100, retired steamfitter

Daniel LaBrada, 100, a retired steamfitter who was an active member of historic St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Society Hill, died of heart failure Thursday, May 26, at home in Collingswood.

Mr. LaBrada, who was a member of Steamfitters Local Union 420 in Philadelphia, maintained heating and refrigeration systems for area Acme stores for many years. He retired at 62 in 1973.

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Daniel LaBrada

He and his wife, Clara, met at a dance and married in 1932. He had been raised Catholic. She was Episcopalian and had always attended St. Peter's Church with her family.

"It took me about two years to make up my mind" before deciding to join St. Peter's, he said in an interview for the church archives in 2007.

Mr. LaBrada became a devoted hands-on member of the church, which has been in continuous use since 1761. In the 1950s, he told church archivists, he converted the heating system from coal to oil. He also repaired electrical wiring and replaced the rope of one of the church's eight bells.

After moving from his home in South Philadelphia to his daughter's home in Collingswood 14 years ago, he continued to drive to services at St. Peter's every Sunday until three years ago, his daughter said.

Mr. LaBrada grew up in Clifton Heights. When he had to drop out of school in sixth grade to help support his family, his teacher comforted him by telling him that with his personality he would go far, his daughter Barbara Duffy said.

The teacher was right about his outgoing personality, Duffy said. Mr. LaBrada made friends at church and wherever he lived.

Before her death in 2003, his wife had lived in Collingswood Manor nursing home for six years. He visited her every day and befriended other residents and the staff, and he volunteered at the manor after his wife died, Duffy said.

Mr. LaBrada joined Duffy and her husband on winter vacations in Key Colony Beach, Fla., and soon knew everyone in town, she said.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. LaBrada is survived by a daughter, Diana Black; a sister; and four grandchildren.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 1, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 313 Pine St. Friends may call from 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in Fernwood Cemetery, Lansdowne.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.