• Gabriel Donio

Margie Pullia: Life of service

‘Nice Going’ Award recipient, philanthropist & volunteer dies at 87



HAMMONTON—Marjorie “Margie” R. Pullia ( née Ruberton), 87, whose dedication to her family, community and faith was coupled with an incredible devotion to philanthropy and volunteerism, and whose commitment to various causes resulted in her receiving the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce “Nice Going” Award in 1998, died peacefully in her home on May 10, her obituary said.


Pullia was born on April 30,1935 in Hammonton, where she was a lifelong resident. She was a 1953 graduate of St. Joseph High School, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Immaculata College in 1957, her obituary said.


In 1960, Margie married the late Paul Pullia; they were married for 48 years until his death in 2008. The couple raised four children together and owned the M.L. Ruberton Agency, an insurance and real estate firm now operated by their sons, according to Pullia’s obituary. 


Margie Pullia was known for her quick wit, unwavering faith, and devotion to her children and her large and loving family. Perhaps she will be most remembered for her long-standing service to the community and many small acts of kindness over the years, her obituary said.


She volunteered extensively for local civic, religious and educational organizations and non-profit organizations, including Kessler Memorial Hospital and the March of Dimes, and she was an active member of St. Martin de Porres Church and St. Joseph Church. She served on the Board of the Hammonton Library and eventually became Commissioner of the Atlantic County Library Commission, according to the obituary.


She was awarded the Woman of Distinction from the Soroptimist Club, and she received the “Nice Going” Award from the Hammonton Chamber of Commerce in 1998. 


Margie Pullia was most passionate about her work on behalf of her alma mater, St. Joseph High School, where she was a member of the Booster Club and the PTA. In 2018, St. Joe honored Margie with the Generosity Award at a celebration in Atlantic City. 


Margie is predeceased by her husband, Paul Pullia; her father, Michael L. Ruberton; mother, Gilda (née Falciani) Ruberton; and sister, Dorothy Berenato. Margie will be deeply missed by her friends and family members. She is survived by her sons, Paul Pullia Jr. and his wife, Joanne, of Hammonton; Michael Pullia and his wife, Cherie, of Hammonton; daughters, Michele Pullia Turk and her husband, Russell of Cos Cob, Conn., and Maryann McKeown and her husband, Michael of Shamong. Also surviving are nine grandchildren: Gabrielle, Danielle and Paul Pullia, Michael and Katherine Turk, Sophia and Olivia Pullia and Michael and Melina McKeown. 


A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish-St. Joseph Church in Hammonton on May 16 followed by entombment at Greenmount Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, 226 French St. Hammonton, NJ 08037 or the Hammonton Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 1066, Hammonton, NJ 08037. 


Arrangements were made by the Marinella Funeral Home.


Margie Pullia’s four children spoke with The Gazette about their mother and her dedication to giving to others.


“She used to say that Grandpop [M.L.] Ruberton used to say, ‘you have to give ‘til it hurts.’ And that was her,” her son PJ Pullia said.


Her dedication to volunteerism and philanthropy was passed down to her children and grandchildren, PJ Pullia said.


“I think that her legacy was that sometimes people get caught up in material things, and that wasn’t her thing. It was always an open door at her house. She told us to be involved in our communities, and we all are involved. Her legacy is that it’s not about herself, it’s about everybody else. My mother was extremely generous, to a fault. When we were young, she would have us clip coupons and she would buy groceries just to give away. She said ‘I can give away twice as much with the coupons,’” PJ Pullia said.


Margie Pullia’s daughter Michele Turk recalled how her mother always welcomed others into their family’s home—either in Hammonton or in Ocean City.


“When we were young, we had a fenced-in playground with a swing set and trampoline; we called it the play yard and the neighborhood congregated there. Mothers rang dinner bells when it was time to go home. Later, when my parents bought a home in Ocean City, it was more of the same with family and friends there all the time. There were always so many people, coming off the beach, eating, telling stories, laughing. It was just the right mix of chaos and love,” Turk said.


Turk said her mother’s parents were the ones who instilled the charitable values in Margie Pullia, values that she would carry with her throughout her long life.


“To understand my mother’s legacy, you have to understand the enormous influence of her parents. Her father, Mike Ruberton died some 40 years ago, but he left his mark on all of us. Mom absorbed his values (and his wife Gilda’s), assimilated them into her life and made them a part of her legacy. He gave mom a roadmap to a life that matters, and to her that meant faith in God, service to your community and devotion to family. She lived the Biblical saying, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Turk said.


Michael “Mickey” Pullia recalled a specific memory that he said showed his mother’s concern for other people.


“There’s an older memory that I always think of when I think of her. She was working at the Funnel Cake Stand during the carnival. I wasn’t in high school yet. I walked up to the stand and saw her talking with a younger guy who had gone to work with the carnival, and it wasn’t working out for him. He was crying. She told me to get my father, who was shucking clams at another stand. When he came, she said that the young guy was to meet my father the next day at the stationery store downtown and he would buy him a bus ticket to wherever he wanted to go. She explained it to me this way: ‘That’s what we do.’ Service is her legacy. It’s a generational thing. She loved doing it. She thought it was her calling. There were three things she committed her life to: service to her family, service to her community and service to her God,” Michael Pullia said.


Humor was a large part of Margie Pullia’s life, her son Michael Pullia said.


“She got her point across with her wit … I always said she would speak softly but she carried a wooden spoon,” Michael Pullia said.


Maryann “Mindy” McKeown also commented on her mother’s humor—and giving nature.

“She was so important to me words cannot describe it. She was kind, generous, and quick-witted. When she was in the hospital and the nurse asked her who I was she replied, ‘A pain in my ass.’ I took it as the best compliment ever. She taught me to always do the right thing—even when it’s hard and always help others. She taught me by example by being so involved with everything the four of us kids did and everything she could for the church, the hospital, the town and all the people she cared about.


“In late February she was diagnosed with lung cancer and she was able to go before she experienced any real pain. I am happy for her and will always have her in my heart. I will remember the good times, and funny moments, and I can ease my mind knowing she did not suffer in the end. Eighty-seven gifted years, filled with a loving family, amazing friends, and a community that she loved. With that I say, cheers to Margie!” McKeown said.


McKeown said she plans to return to volunteer work as a way of honoring her mother’s memory.


“I did so much volunteer work when I was growing up in Hammonton and later in life. Then I had kids and couldn’t do it as much. I want to make sure I keep the tradition going of giving to the community by giving more,” McKeown said.


In 1998, when Margie Pullia won the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce’s “Nice Going” Award, the writeup in the Chamber Guide about her included the following: “As you can see, her interests have been many, but helping others has been paramount in her thoughts and efforts. She mainly volunteers by two simple guidelines. If Margie thinks she can do the job, she just does it … (pardon us, Nike) … quietly and efficiently. The other is something her father told the family: ‘If you feel you are lucky, then help those who aren’t.’ Marjorie Pullia has been helping people all her life.”


“We’ve lost another pillar of our community. She was never one to self-promote, but always there to support so many great causes. We will miss her,” Chamber Executive Director John Runfolo said on May 16.


“Volunteering is a family tradition,” Margie Pullia said when she accepted the Chamber’s “Nice Going” Award in 1998.


Based on what her children said after her death, volunteering and service is a tradition and a legacy Margie Pullia has handed down to future generations of her family through her example.