'Youthful' Springfield Township 'role model' dies at 100


Camilla Harrington was a role model for a full life well lived. The longtime Springfield Township poll worker and Republican committeewoman was known as “Milly the Chanteuse” for her singing and dancing in countless Springfield Township shows. She impressed everyone she knew with her active lifestyle, playing golf, driving her tractor mower, hosting dinner parties and attending art classes, all in her 90s. 

While ‘Cam’ Harrington died on July 3 of last year, many of her friends and former neighbors learned about her death just weeks ago, because she had moved from her longtime home to Spring House Estates, a retirement community near Ambler. 

“Before this year ends, I wanted to memorialize her, and so I have,” Cam's former neighbor, Terence O'Neill, wrote on the Mt. Airy Nextdoor website in late December, which prompted an outpouring of dozens of responses about Cam.

According to friends and family members, her calendar was always full. “Cam” enjoyed the occasional glass of red wine and would often have cocktail hour with neighbors as long as she made it home in time to watch “Jeopardy” at 7 p.m.

Cam moved to Spring House Estates in 2016, where she took up bocce ball and yoga. But her favorite activities there were brain games, playing kazoo in the Happy Timers Band and Saturday morning golf, which she continued playing until the summer of 2022 at the age of 99.

According to her granddaughter, Jennifer Wagner, Cam led a busy and social life, with lots of friends, up until the moment that she died. 

“Recently, at the age of 100, she had breakfast in the morning and was moving around normally, and then later in the day she was walking to the dining hall and fell down and died,” Wagner said. “And that's the way she said she wanted it. She said she wanted to be moving when she died, and she was, living an active, normal life right up to the very end.”

According to Terence O'Neill, a neighbor of Cam's near Flourtown before she moved to Spring House Estates, “Cam was a wonderful lady, a character, a bon vivant with a droll way about her. She was also an artist, a great friend and a very intelligent person ... I struck up a friendship with her, and not long after, my wife Kathleen did so, too. Many is the drink we hoisted together, Cam, Jeanne Graham (another neighbor), my wife and I, in Cam's living room or in Jeanne's refurbished garage.”

Camilla Marie Harrington (nee Rogan) was born June 16, 1923, in Carrolltown, Pennsylvania, and was the daughter of attorney Camillus A. Rogan and Othella Thomas Rogan. Cam graduated from Freeland High School in 1940 and was a member of the National Honor Society. After high school she attended Strayer Business School (now Strayer University).

As an executive secretary, she worked for the Budd Company during World War II and later for Merck Sharp & Dohme and AT&T.

Cam loved to travel and enjoyed trips to England, Italy and St. Thomas, among others, but never got to Ireland. “Cam and Norris, her husband, traveled with both brothers, Tom and Paul, and sisters-in-law, Barb and Jane, on many occasions,” said Cam's granddaughter, Nancy Zinni. “With a maiden name of Rogan, she always wanted to see Ireland. I'm not sure why it never happened.

Cam loved going out to lunch with her niece, Mary Jane Rogan, as well as relatives Cindy and Ed Depiera, “who are true Blue Bell Inn devotees,” Zinni said. “Before Covid, Cam was a volunteer at Spring House Estates, and helped other residents in wheelchairs by walking them down to the Thursday night entertainment.”

Jennifer Wagner, who grew up near Downingtown, recounted many visits to Cam’s house in Ambler. 

“She made childhood so much fun for us. My 'Nana' (Cam) would take us to the beach and to plays. She made everything fun. Throughout her whole life, she was sharp as a tack, always telling jokes and funny stories and making practical jokes. 

“For her 90th birthday, she came down on a train to Asheville, North Carolina, where we live now,” Wagner recounted. “We took her to the Biltmore Estate, where we played cards, walked all around the estate and had dinner in a rustic cabin. It was so much fun.”

Wagner said she’s been visiting every year at Thanksgiving ever since she moved to North Carolina. 

“And I'd come in summers on my own to be with Cam,” Wagner said. “She had great energy. One year at Thanksgiving, she had to go to the bathroom, but she was sitting at the end of the table and did not want to inconvenience people and make them move, so she crawled underneath the dinner table.”

Cam was pre-deceased by her two brothers, Thomas Rogan and Paul Rogan. She was the widow of the late Norris H. Harrington after a 20-year marriage and was previously married to Earle G. Boyer, Jr., now deceased, for 16 years, with whom she had one son, Earle G. Boyer, III, who died in December 2018.

Camilla is survived by four stepsons — William Harrington, Jim Harrington, Robert Harrington and Richard Harrington — as well as many grandchildren, three great-granddaughters; two great-grandsons and one great-great grandson, nine nieces and nephews and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.

A memorial and graveside service was held at St. Ann’s Cemetery in Freeland,

Pennsylvania. Donations in Cam's name may be made to Make-A-Wish® Philadelphia, 5 Valley Square, Suite 210, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com