Melinda Kurkian Gaffney, MS society director

Melinda Kurkian Gaffney, 71, of Pennsauken, who retired in the late 1990s as director of patient services for the Greater Delaware Valley chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, died of heart failure Sunday, Oct. 13, at Virtua Voorhees hospital. Mrs. Gaffney had a 25-year career with the chapter, her son, Christopher, said. Born in Merchantville, she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature at Lycoming College in 1964

and pursued graduate studies at Rutgers-Camden. Mrs. Gaffney had a second career as president of the Mozart and Friends Opera Company, which she organized in her home in 1988. With a membership of about 100 and an orchestra of 60 to 80 members, her son said, it staged one opera each year at Pennsauken High School until disbanding in 2000."For its last four or five years," her son said, the company also staged a series of concerts and conducted an educational outreach program for fourth and fifth graders in Pennsauken schools."Essentially," he said, "she didn't think there was enough classical music in the school system."She never had any musical training; she played piano a little bit," he said. "But she was a classical and opera lover, and wanted to show everyone that opera could be fun and that it was accessible to just about everyone, not just the elite."


Besides her son, Mrs. Gaffney is survived by husband James and a brother. A viewing was set from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Trinity Room of Grace Episcopal Church, 7 E. Maple Ave., Merchantville, N.J. 08109, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass there. Donations may be made to the church. Condolences may be offered to the family at

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Last modified on 09/23/2018

Published in Milestones
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