Viewing and funeral Mass for Verna on Friday

PHOTO CREDIT: Monti-Rago Funeral Home

A viewing and funeral Mass are set for Friday for former City Council President Anna Verna, who died Tuesday. She was 90.

The viewing will go from 9:45 a.m. to noon at The Church of St. Richard’s, 3010 S. 18th St., followed by her funeral Mass at 12:30 p.m. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon. In lieu of flowers, family requests contributions be made in her name to St. Richard’s Church, 3010 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA 19145. To offer the family expressions of sympathy, visit Arrangements by Monti-Rago Funeral Home Inc.

Verna represented the 2nd Councilmanic District from 1975 to 2011. She is the only woman Council president in the city’s history, serving from 1999 to her retirement after enrolling in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.

Anna Cibotti grew up on the 2200 block of Dickinson St. She began her service to the city in 1951, when she was hired to work for city treasurer Richardson Dilworth.

She was hired by her father, William Cibotti, when he was elected to the 2nd district seat in 1967. She succeeded him when he died in 1975.

She was married to Severino Verna, and they lived at his funeral home on the 1200 block of S. Broad St. They later moved to Packer Park. Severino Verna died in 2009.

Severino Verna co-founded the Columbus Day Parade in 1957, and his wife served as chairwoman for many years.

Among her other accomplishments were helping finance the Cascia Center at the National Shrine of St. Rita, 1166 S. Broad St.; promoting property tax freezes and affordable housing for the elderly; and expanding Philadelphia International Airport and the Philadelphia Naval Business Center.

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke succeeded Verna as head of Council. He issued the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and former colleague Anna Verna. Mrs. Verna’s family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers. Council President Verna served this legislative body with distinction for 36 years. She made history as the first woman President of Council, and served the people of her Second Council District in South and Southwest Philadelphia and Center City with professionalism, dignity and resolve for all those years.

“On a personal level, President Verna taught me the importance of patience and confidentiality in dealing with our colleagues, and her genuine concern for any issues or challenges you had as an elected official. You knew that she was always there for you. Rest in power, my good friend.”

Anna C. Verna was joined by 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and the City Lights String Band on the day the 1200 block of S. Broad St. was renamed Anna Cibotti Verna Way. SPR file photo

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson succeeded Verna in the 2nd district. He introduced a resolution in 2017 naming Broad Street, between Federal Street and Wharton Street, “Anna Cibotti Verna Way.”

“Former Philadelphia City Council President and Second District Councilperson Anna Cibotti Verna is a legend in Philadelphia politics and a pioneer and trailblazer for women in politics in Philadelphia,” Johnson said in a statement. “Her mark in the political, civic and cultural affairs of Philadelphia is undeniable and Philadelphia is a better city today because of her service to all Philadelphians.”