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Latrobe baking sensation Lucy Pollock, 98, dies | TribLIVE.com – TribLIVE

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Nov 23, 2020

Lucy Pollock loved her fans.

As star of the popular “Baking With Lucy” Facebook page, the 98-year-old from Latrobe would spend hours reading and re-reading messages from her supporters.

Because her eyesight wasn’t the best, her daughter would sometimes have to read stuff to her.

“She would read it and then she would call me over and she’d say, ‘Mary, you got to read this,’ ” her daughter, Mary Ellen Raneri, said. “And I’d read it again. I’d read it just like I read it the first time.”

Lucy Pollock died unexpectedly over the weekend from lung infections. She also had tested positive for covid-19, her daughter said.

“It’s quite an eye-opener for us and for everybody, and so ironic that what she struggled so hard to help people with eventually ended up hurting her,” Mary Ellen Raneri said.

“Baking With Lucy” began in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Mary Ellen Raneri started sharing Pollock’s baking skills on live Facebook sessions as a way to offer connection and encouragement to others during quarantine.

Since then the page has taken off — with close to 40,000 followers — earning Pollock worldwide recognition, an upcoming cookbook and a national television appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Nov. 18.

The baking sessions were normally held on Sundays. Mary Ellen’s husband, Phil Raneri, would capture the lessons on his cellphone.

Mary Ellen Raneri said her mom was by no means camera shy, and told her daughter not worry if she ever made a mistake on camera.

Once, when canning sandwich spread during a show, Mary Ellen Raneri realized she had forgotten to add an ingredient before sealing the cans. Her mother good-naturedly said, “Well, take it out. We’ll do it again.”

“That was my mom — she could fix anything,” she said. “Build anything, fix anything, sew anything, make anything.”

The Raneris shared the news about Pollock’s passing in a video posted to the Facebook page on Sunday.

The roughly 10-minute long video had more than 3,000 likes, more than 2,500 comments and close to 40,000 views as of early Sunday afternoon.

It begins with a display of photos of Pollock from when she was younger before switching to the Raneris.

“I can’t believe that I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning doing this,” Mary Ellen Raneri said. “Because at this point we’d all be scurrying around, yelling at each other ‘Who’s going to get the flour?’ and ‘Where are we going to put it?’ But life has twists and turns.”

“I appreciate you guys listening to me,” she continued. ”I feel like I’m with my family right now and I can tell you how I feel, and you can understand that she ‘s a wonderful, remarkable person and she went out with a blast.”

Mary Ellen Raneri said she is grateful to her mother’s fans, who she said made a huge impact on her mother’s life.

After Mary Ellen’s father died, Pollock was in a dark place for a while. The baking page changed all that.

“You guys gave her a second chance to feel useful and to feel like a contributing person to society,” Mary Ellen Raneri said.

Pollock was admitted to the hospital on Friday, Nov. 20, for a lung infection, according to a post on the Facebook page. On Saturday, Nov. 21, they received a call that Pollock was doing better, and they thought she would be coming home.

Then, later Saturday, the hospital called again.

Mary Ellen Raneri said she was able to go to the hospital in order to say goodbye.

She sang the song “You Are My Sunshine” to her mother. She seemed happy and at peace, Mary Ellen Raneri said. She died at 3 a.m. Sunday.

“I feel like my heart is breaking right now,” Mary Ellen Raneri said. “But I wanted to tell everybody that I think right now she’s in a really good place, and I’m going to go with that.”

The Raneris will go ahead with the cookbook, as planned.

“They’re actually coming tomorrow, but unfortunately it’s going to be delayed a little bit longer,” Phil Raneri said.

Mary Ellen Raneri said she and her mother would go back and forth, sometimes for up to 10 hours a day, about what should go in the cookbook.

They would argue about every recipe. Sometimes it would be over something as simple as adding nutmeg, or what a baking time should be.

After her mother would storm off, she would come back and tell her daughter they needed to make whatever it was they had been arguing about, even if it was late at night. So at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. they’d be getting out ingredients for pumpkin rolls or sugar cookies.

“My mother was true to whatever she was committed to,” Mary Ellen Raneri said.

Mary Ellen Raneri said she never really knew how much she admired her mom until they started working together on the cookbook.

“I don’t think I knew how much I loved my mom until we started to do this project together,” she said. “I loved her, but I don’t think I knew how much I admired her. She was an amazing person.”

Mary Ellen Raneri said she will continue to post her mother’s recipes on the page, but she acknowledged that she’s not her mother and will not try to be.

“We’re going to do everything that Lucy wanted,” Mary Ellen Raneri said.

Madasyn Lee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, mlee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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