Andigoni "Andi" Steffa
Andigoni T. “Andi” (nee Ticco) Steffa, 92, of Warminster, a chocolatier who personalized Easter eggs for Wanamakers and Strawbridge & Clothier department stores in center city Philadelphia each Easter for more than twenty years, died Saturday, February 18, 2017 at her home surrounded by family.
Mrs. Steffa, loving wife of the late Peter L. Steffa, M.D. and mother of Patricia L. Orphanos, Peter L., Jr., and Paulette M., grandmother of Anastasia Noll and Nicholas Orphanos, and great-grandmother of three, was born and raised in Jenkins, KY.
Popular and active in high school, Andi played the trumpet in the Jenkins High School Marching Band and also took piano lessons from an early age. She was active in theater productions, played tennis, and also won a sewing competition by designing a fashionable evening gown. Her love of the town of Jenkins was captured in a recent taping of her life story for the University of Kentucky historical archives. Her amazing start from this premier coal mining town was the basis for her lifelong interests in classical and big band music, piano, theater, basketball, ice skating and dance. She loved Greek folk dancing, line dancing, and jitterbugging. Whenever she heard the first few notes of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”, she would be up and dancing — she even danced to it with her walker a few days before her passing. Jenkins was also where she developed her passion for baking and cooking. Her Southern hospitality was evident in the joy she took in entertaining and cooking for others.
Mrs. Steffa graduated from Virginia Intermont College in June 1943. She worked in Bristol, Virginia before moving with her family to Philadelphia in December 1944, after the death of her father. Soon after, she became engaged to Capt. Peter L. Steffa, of the U.S. Army Medical Corp. They were married in September 1945, upon his return from serving in the European theater of operations (North Africa, Sicily and Italy) during World War II.
Andi, a loving homemaker, lived an exemplary life of service, grace and determination. She was a caring and compassionate, vibrant person who always had a beautiful smile for everyone.
Her insatiable curiosity led her to be a lifelong learner. She loved to take classes in a plethora of subjects, travel and read non-fiction. Her creativity was evident in her home design, fashion accessorizing and her culinary creations. A woman with a generous and caring heart, she had a beautiful way of accepting the gift of each moment.
In addition to supporting her husband in his endeavors and making a home for him and their three children, Mrs. Steffa served as president of the Junior Board of the John B. Stetson Hospital, was a member of the Mt. Moriah Chapter #19 of the Order of the Eastern Star, a member of the Philadelphia Calligrapher’s Society, and a member in good standing of the Order of Kentucky Colonels. Mrs. Steffa, when younger, had also been active in the Ladies Philoptochos Society 'Nausica’ of Annunciation/Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church and the Ladies Society of Saints Peter and Paul Albanian Orthodox Church.
Mrs. Steffa was a life-long aficionado of dance — especially tap dancing. She shepherded her two daughters through years of dancing lessons. Truth be told — she had more talent than either of them. Each August she and her daughter, Paulette, would travel to Macys in New York City to participate in Macys annual tap dancing Tap-O-Mania along with more than 6,000 other tap dancers from around the world, tapping the world’s largest tap dancing routine on 42nd Street, in front of Macys flagship store. Mrs. Steffa served and tapped as a group captain for several years, until the event was discontinued for public safety reasons in the aftermath of 9/11.
Mrs. Steffa was a superb cook and baker, particularly of ethnic Albanian and Greek dishes and pastries, using recipes brought over from the old country, and taught to her by her grandmother and mother. She also learned cake decorating, and how to work with chocolate and marzipan, selling her fancy wares under the “Andi’s Candies” private label. She was particularly known for her large chocolate pizzas that were decorated with white chocolate, pieces of maraschino cherries, and other delectable items, making them appear to be real pizzas, only sweeter and more decadent. They were even delivered to customers in standard pizza boxes.
As an outgrowth of being a chocolatier, Mrs. Steffa was employed by Asher’s Candies to personalize their Easter eggs in the weeks before Easter, first at Wanamaker’s in center city, and then for more than twenty years at Strawbridge & Clothier’s Food Court in their center city store. Parents would bring their children, and then their grandchildren to visit “the Easter egg lady” to watch her write their names using calligraphy on their very own Easter eggs with white chocolate, a pastry bag and pastry decorating tip. For some families the trip became an annual event. Throughout the year children, recognizing her as “the Easter egg lady,” often stopped Mrs. Steffa on the street to say ‘hello.’ Mrs. Steffa often joked that while most people worked 50 weeks a year and had two weeks vacation, she worked two weeks a year personalizing Easter eggs, followed by 50 weeks of ‘vacation’ as a homemaker.
Andi was a testimony to her faith in God and love for people of all walks of life. She expressed her gratitude often and easily. She could be counted on to help those in need and always put herself last.
On one of her last days, her daughter asked her if she wanted anything — meaning something to eat or drink. Andi’s reply was, “I’ve always had everything I’ve ever wanted, I am truly blessed — and — you are blessed too, remember that!”
When asked if there was something more she wanted to share, she said, “Be kind to everyone. We are all God’s people — black, white, gay, straight, Christian, Jew, Muslim — we are all God’s people! We are all equal, no one is better than anyone else. Be kind to everyone.”
On Saturday morning, while she was slipping away, her last words were, “Be kind to everyone.”
Mrs. Steffa was predeceased in death by her parents Michael G. and Polixeni Paphingi Ticco and siblings, John M., Milton M., and Martha W. Tzetzo.
Mrs. Steffa’s funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, February 27th, at Annunciation/Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, 7921 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027, preceded by a viewing at the church beginning at 9:30 a.m. Interment will follow at Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, PA.
Memorial donations may be made to the “Orthodox Christian Mission Center - Albania,” Orthodox Christian Mission Center, 220 Mason Manatee Way, St Augustine, FL 32086-9908 and/or the Kiwanis Club of Jenkins, KY, Inc., PO Box 509, Jenkins, KY 41537.