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Yetta Fields, was born Yetta (Ita in Yiddish) Metcoff in 1923, to Louis and Lena Metcoff.
Louis had emigrated to the U.S. (working at Wanamakers and living in Manayunk, Philadelphia)— leaving Lena back in Russia (actually near Kiev) to fend for herself and her 3 boys (Ben, Leon and Sam). But he sent money back to her and 10 years later (World War I had ensued), the family was reunited. Leon had died—so only 2 boys were left. The reunion of Louis and Lena produced their daughter, Yetta. They all moved to the Philadelphia area soon after she was born, first to South Philly, then to Kensington and then to West Philly.
Louis, being very industrious and savvy, had a tailor shop, bought some real estate, and opened a grocery and candy store as well.
Yetta went to Girls’ High School. She married Max Fields in 1948.
And we are the 2 children, Jack and Phyllis. Jack married Iris Lipsitz in 1978. Phyllis married Mark Chapell—he died in 2012. She is currently engaged to Steve Jewett.
Max had graduated veterinary school (at Penn) but never got to practice—because his father died young and Max had to run his father’s coat factory on Lehigh Avenue in Philadelphia. In 1971, when there was a recession, the business went under and he had to file for bankruptcy. They received by surprise a small amount of refund money from the IRS and bought an animal hospital on Lansdowne Avenue near Township Line in Upper Darby, PA.
So Max had to learn veterinary medicine practically from scratch and our mom, a little Jewish housewife, had to learn to be his assistant, nurse, manager and peacemaker. Max, Yetta and Jack worked in the practice, 7 days a week. It was quite a challenging pursuit, to say the least.
Max and Yetta retired in 1990 and spent their retirement as snow birds—going to Florida for the winter season. Our dad died in December of 2008.
What an inspiration our mother was—not for her intellectual capabilities or her talents (though she loved the arts)—but for her steadfastness and devotion and her toughness. She was never swayed by adversity nor by success. She just kept going, straight as an arrow… something which really helped her family with all our ups and downs.
Our mom was never warm and fuzzy. She didn’t emote and she didn’t want to have long meaningful discussions. But there was no question that she supported and loved her immediate and extended family and her friends. She had a quiet dignity, humility and grace about her—something that we all admire and aspire to.
Comments by Phyllis: Mom never really realized that she became my best friend. She went with me to many of my performances and helped me load in and break down. She was my roadie—up to her mid-90’s—pretty darn amazing! Mom welcomed Jack’s wife, Iris, into our family with open arms. Eventually she warmed up to my fiancee Steve, especially because of his cooking :-)
Comments by Jack: My mother was a person who always saw the best in people. Even though she didn’t give me advice or words to live by, she was always there to support and lift me up. We worked together at the Upper Darby Animal Hospital for 15 years. She was dedicated, hardworking and always kept everything organized.
Yetta loved being with family and friends. She always tried to make everyone happy and kept a smile on her face. She loved going to the casino, was an avid Rummikub player and absolutely adored her chocolate treats! She was a loving, caring, brave, strong and understanding woman. We will never forget you Mom!
Yetta Fields died on January 14th, 2023, at The Hearth at Drexel, in Bala Cynwyd, where she had been residing for 6 months.
She is a part of all of us now and forever.
Jack Fields and Phyllis Chapell
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