Music was Adeline Duffy’s middle name. Each of her children learned to play guitar, piano, violin, and wooden spoons as early as they could hold them.
“There was always music in our house,” said her daughter Tricia. “We played music after dinner each night. Music replaced books in our family.”
Adeline, who was called “Penny,” died on Oct. 16, 2022 at Seashore Point in Provincetown with her family around her. In her last days, they delighted her with love and their shared passion for music. She never stopped singing, and the nurses who cared for her reported that on a bad day at work they’d go into Penny’s room to join her. She was 96.
The daughter of Italian immigrants Joseph and Adeline Fuoco, Penny was born on Dec. 30, 1925 at home in Boston’s Hyde Park, where she grew up with her nine siblings. As a teenager, she and a brother entered jitterbug dancing contests and, more often than not, would win.
In 1947, Penny took a job at the Wequassett Inn in Harwich to be able to buy herself a fur coat. That fall, she left Wequassett for the Orleans Inn. Recently discharged from the Navy, George Duffy Jr. walked into the inn’s bar. “He came in for a brew and left with a wife,” said Tricia.
Penny and George settled in Truro before building their permanent home on a former turnip patch in Eastham. Penny was both a devoted mother, shepherding her children to music lessons and to all the places they wanted to go, and a devoted volunteer.
When she discovered the Nauset Workshop (now Cape Abilities), she worked with children with disabilities, including autism. “She thought no one was abnormal” and embraced everyone as simply human, said Tricia.
In her 40s, Penny worked for Shedd-Brown Promotions, a manufacturer of advertising materials. She sold promotional calendars, pencils, pens, and key chains to Outer Cape businesses. She could talk almost anyone into buying a pen or calendar. She was proud of her successes, which one year included an advertising award that provided enough money for her finally to buy that fur coat.
Penny worked for Shedd-Brown until she was 80; even after she retired, some businesses, not wanting to sever the connection, continued to buy from her even after she entered assisted living, Tricia noted.
Penny’s home “was always filled with animals, music, and chicken Parmesan,” Tricia added. All living things gave her joy; she reveled in pet ducks, rabbits, and parrots, along with cats and dogs. Her dinner parties were alcohol-free and bursting with life. She was active in St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Orleans for decades.
Penny is survived by her children, Kathie Duffy of Eastham, Tricia Duffy of Orleans, and Tom Duffy of Boulder, Colo., and by her grandchildren, Ian Hatch of New York City, Rosie Hatch of Eastham, and Sophie Hatch of Bath, Maine.
She was beyond the moon to meet her two great-grandsons, Finn and Theo, in her final years. Penny also loved her in-laws, past and present: Rob Hatch, Kathie’s ex; David Hatch; Eric, Rosie’s husband; Rose, Sophie’s wife; and Patrick, Ian’s partner.
She was predeceased by her husband, George, and by daughter-in-law Terry Calamito.
Penny wanted everyone to remember to “take the bitter with the better, and life goes on from there.”
A Scratch Ticket Bingo Bonanza Memorial Tribute will take place at the Eastham Elks Lodge from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. All are welcome.