Dr. Marciene Mattleman, education and literacy trailblazer, dies at 89

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A major advocate and trailblazer of children’s literacy in Philadelphia died Friday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

For years, Dr. Marciene Mattleman worked as KYW Newsradio’s education reporter, but that was just one part of her legacy.

“My mom was probably the most passionate, persistent person anyone will ever know. When she saw that kids needed after school activities, she created after school activities, partnerships to make that happen,” said daughter Ellen Mattleman Kaplan.

She says her mother was always willing to work with and help people.

“Wherever she went, people would stop her on the street and said, ‘you taught me to read,'” she added. 

Mattleman started five nonprofits, including Philadelphia Futures, a program that’s been replicated across the country.

She was honored at the White House by President Bill Clinton for that work.

She also worked to improve education with Ed Rendell when he was mayor of Philadelphia.

“She was as caring a person as I’ve ever met in my long life of politics and government. She cared about our kids, and she cared about education, and she cared about kids that couldn’t read. She dedicated her life improving the opportunities those kids had,” Rendell said. 

As a teacher, she taught sixth-graders, then went on to become a professor of English education at Temple University.

She died Friday night at the age of 89.

This comes after a four-year fight with Parkinson’s disease, something KYW Newsradio’s medical contributor Dr. Brian McDonough says is ever-increasing with the country’s aging population.

“It slows people down, and some of the symptoms include muscular rigidity. Their faces overtime will have less expression, and there’s also issues as far as hand movement,” McDonough said. 

Mattleman Kaplan says her mom fought Parkinson’s to the end.

Mattleman leaves behind three kids, six grandkids and her husband Herman, who she was married to for 69 years.

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