Day of Remembrance for the Exeter Five

This June 28th marks the 80th Anniversary of one of the saddest days in Exeter Borough history; as five young girls lost their lives in a drowning accident near Mariani’s Farm. 

The girls who perished were 

Verna Galli; age 8; daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Galli, Mason St.

Geraldine Smith, age 10; daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Smith, Lincoln St

Teckla Janiszewski, age 10, daughter of Mr and Mrs. Leonard Janiszewski,, Lincoln St

Theresa Modlesky, age 13, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Modlesky, Ash Court

Delores Gadello, age 15; daughter of Anthony Gadello, Battle Ave.

The girls were trying to balance on a log on a sweltering Wednesday Afternoon at 4:30;  when they slipped off and were overcome by the strong currents of the Susquehanna River. The eldest; Ms. Gadello actually found her way to safety but went back into the river to try and save Ms. Galli.  When the girls were pulled from the river that evening, Ms Galli’s arms were around Ms. Gadello’s neck.  

A girl that was onshore at the time; Bernadine Padziorko; daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Padziorko; of Orchard St; ran to the Gadello home to seek help.  As word of the trouble spread; the community and surrounding communities mobilized to race against time and loss of daylight to recover the girls.  Police and Fire Department Officials from Forty Fort, Wyoming, West Pittston, among others brought personnel and equipment promptly to the scene. 

All of the bodies were recovered by Paul Ripple, aged 17, of Penn Avenue,  an Exeter High School Senior and an expert swimmer.   He was assisted by friends Elmo Begliomini, 17, of Valley Street, Thomas Peach, 17, of Penn Avenue, and Edward Carozza, 17, of Valley Street.  Rescue attempts were made for over an hour on the girls; but sadly none survived.  The Reverend Samuel Anzalone, O.S.J; St. Anthony’s parish, administered the last rites to the five girls as they were brought to shore. 

On Saturday July 1st; all five were buried, Galli and Gadello at St. Anthony’s and Smith, Modlesky, and Janiszewski were buried at St; Johns, as the Borough shut down to mourn the losses and comfort the families.

At the end of this month, the Mayor and the Exeter Borough Council declare Friday, June 28th, 2024 as a day of remembrance for the Exeter Five; and the heroic acts that took place that day to try and save them and eventually recover them; particularly Ms. Gadello and Mr. Ripple. 

On that day; they represented the bravest call of humanity and of their love for their fellow sisters of our borough, and an act which Ms. Gadello paid for with her own life. We recognize and remember those lost that day as beloved daughters of this Borough and Community.


Mayor Denise Adams

Exeter Borough