Lois Laganella, 71, choral singer and office manager

She was an alto. He was a baritone.

Their love song began in the early 1960s, when Lois Ann Friedlein sang with Raymond Laganella in the South Philadelphia High School choir. It was there they fell in love, and their voices joined as one for 55 years.

“She had a smile that would wake anybody up,” her husband said.

Mrs. Laganella, 71, died Friday, April 14, on her way to a hospital of a septic infection while recovering from back surgery.

“She loved me, and I loved her,” her husband said. “It was still good until the end.”

Camera icon  Courtesy Laganella family
Ray and Lois Laganella

Mrs. Laganella attended Peirce College with a focus in radiology. She worked as an office manager for a doctor’s practice in South Jersey after the couple moved to Logan Township, where they raised their sons, Kenneth and David.

After their sons became involved with theater, the Laganella home became a place for their friends to congregate, especially for cast parties after a production. The family kept snacks and drinks stocked, welcoming the few or 20 who stopped by, Laganella said, adding that they accommodated many “drop-in” friends with their open-door policy.

Mrs. Laganella, known as “Lolo,” was elected to the school board about the time Logan Township Elementary School was in the planning stage, contributing to what the school should look like, and what programs should be included. She served about a decade, through the 1980s.

“She had a lot of progressive ideas about technology and early education programs,” said Frank Donnelly, school board president, who had served with her since 1983. “Logan Township is a small community and Lois was a big part of it."

The community recognized her contributions with a proclamation.

She was well-liked at the doctor’s office, too, where she had the reputation of running a “tight ship” until her retirement at age 66. Rather than focusing on problems, she offered solutions, her husband said.

“She was very outgoing and friendly,” he said. “She used to say she could talk to a brick wall. Everyone knew Lois. They may not have known the doctor, but they knew who she was.”

A former co-worker, Alberta Jones, described Mrs. Laganella as happy, funny, and kind, and  like a sister whom she invited to family events. She showed tremendous respect toward patients, Jones said, being compassionate and calming.

“We didn’t consider them patients,” Jones said. “We considered them family and Lois treated them like family.”

Another former co-worker, Beth Chaifetz, said, “I don’t think there’s anybody who met Lois who did not like her.” Mrs. Laganella enjoyed dressing in costume at the office for Halloween -- one year as Minnie Mouse. She loved dogs, and took care of Gus and Maggie when Chaifetz was ill and needed help.

Mrs. Laganella also was a competitive pinochle player, “cutthroat,”  winning against her sons even if it bruised their pride, her husband said. Their sons, Laganella said, learned to play from the best, eventually beating their mother many times.

Mrs. Laganella was also an active member of Bethesda United Methodist Church, where she and her husband sang in the choir, just as they had decades earlier in high school.

In addition to her husband and sons, Mrs. Laganella is survived by three grandchildren.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to noon at Bethesda United Methodist Church, 1518 Kings Highway, Swedesboro, N.J., 08085.

Mrs. Laganella was allergic to flowers. Donations may be made  to the church at the address above.

Condolences for the family may be left at lifecelebrationstudio.com.