Albert ‘Bart’ and Phyllis ‘Babe’ Corricelli get ready to lead the Peabody Retirement Community’s Tulip Festival Parade April 26 in North Manchester. Photo Provided
Albert ‘Bart’ and Phyllis ‘Babe’ Corricelli get ready to lead the Peabody Retirement Community’s Tulip Festival Parade April 26 in North Manchester. Photo Provided
NORTH MANCHESTER – To be selected as grand marshals for Peabody Retirement Community’s Tulip Festival Parade is a pretty special honor.
According to a press release from Peabody, this year’s selection, Bart and Phyllis Corricelli, was no exception.  
The Tulip Festival is now in its 16th year and North Manchester’s unofficial heralding of spring,.
Albert “Bart” Corricelli, 92, and his 90-year-old wife, Phyllis, have always felt their life together was special, ever since saying “I do” over 65 years ago.
Bart grew up with nine siblings in Boston and enlisted as a young man in the Marines to serve in the Pacific arena of World War II.
Phyllis won a “pinup girl” contest in North Manchester and also won the adoration of many sailors, causing them to pen love letters from the USS Wabash, but it was Bart that she married just a year and a half after meeting at the Moose Club in Huntington.  
The strength and beauty of their relationship is even more evident today, as witnessed through Bart’s unending devotion to Phyllis (whom he lovingly nicknamed “Babe” early in this relationship) when he leaves their home in North Manchester each day to visit her in the Smock Memory Enhancement Center of Peabody Retirement Community, the release states.
The Corricellis married during World War II and settled in North Manchester after the war ended.  
“Babe loves this town; she felt it was the greatest place in the world and never wanted to leave,” Bart shared.
So, the young and faithful husband went to work at Peabody Factory to support his “absolutely beautiful knockout wife” and young family of three – Angie, now in California; Mike, in Tennessee; and Patrick, in Illinois. That is where Phyllis’s father and brother worked, as did she for many years.  Bart racked up 37 years at the factory.
For Phyllis, the love of family has been her greatest blessing, and as Bart, also a self-proclaimed extrovert, notes, everything worked out as it was supposed to.
“This is what happens.  You find good people and stay in a community,” he says.
Along with his devotion to Phyllis, Bart’s service during the war and his championing of veteran causes led to the duo being named grand marshals for the festival. The festival sponsors the Tulip Two-Mile Classic Run/Walk with proceeds going to Disabled American Veterans. Bart spent seven years raising funds for the war memorial in North Manchester, and has connected to several other veterans at Peabody,  one with whom he served. He recalls with contemplative pride that many of the best memories were with his “band of brothers” in Maui, despite the unimaginable loss of fallen comrades.  
Many might ask Bart how he copes with the love of his life being struck with dementia, yet continues to be the optimistic, fun-loving person who loves to talk, dance and sing. How does he muster the strength and courage to be without his life partner in the home they shared in their beloved North Manchester neighborhood for so many years?
His response is equal parts common sense, optimism and humility. First, he claims to live a normal life, keeping his body and mind well by possibly “eating the same breakfast for 25 years – two waffles and a bowl of blueberries and strawberries.” Next, while facing the transition of Phyllis’s dementia has been very hard, Bart understands it’s the “mechanics” that fail her, and not so much her mind. He then credits the team at Peabody’s memory enhancement center as the “greatest caregivers around who take care of my wife beautifully.”  
Finally, when asked why he visits his “Babe” every day, Bart plainly states, “I lived with her for 66 years.  I cannot remember when she didn’t have a meal or our home prepared.  She made sure I was taken care of, and now it is payback time.”
Yes, the Corricelli’s were a perfect match as grand marshals for a tradition that welcomes the warmth and optimism of spring to North Manchester. And, yes, they have been a perfect match for each other.  Because for Bart and Phyllis “Babe”, life is always grand, and very special, too.  
Located on 33 acres of tranquil and pristine beauty in North Manchester, Peabody is a continuing care retirement community offering a range of residential and healthcare lifestyle options including independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing and memory care.  Here, the lives of senior adults are enriched through recreation, education and culture in an atmosphere of grace, compassion and respect, according to the press release.
To learn more, call 260-982-8616, toll-free 800-545-6220 or visit www.peabodyrc.org