Our beautiful mother Maria (as she liked to be called more recently) enjoyed a very long and fruitful life. She was born in Boston on November 7, 1919 to Concetta and Guiseppe Stoppolone, Sicilian immigrants. Her father was a baker and Maria was the second of four siblings, three girls and a boy. Concetta unexpectedly passed from tuberculosis when Mom was only four. At the age of seven, her Dad remarried and Maria gained a new stepmom and two siblings. She was educated in the East Boston public school system where she received vocational training as a seamstress and later found employment in one of Boston’s clothing factories. On April 25, 1941, she married Anthony (Tony) Della Grotte. They settled in East Boston where their first child, Joyce Ann, was born in February 1942. Next came Joseph Anthony in July 1943. In 1946, the family moved to Arlington, MA and in December 1948, Mary Jane was born. As the years passed, Maria worked hard at being the best mother and homemaker she could be – always cooking, cleaning and gardening. She was the consummate homemaker and fabulous cook and Dad was a hard working machinist often working two jobs to support the growing family.
During the summer of 1956, the family moved to Nahant where Dad built a lovely home on a hill just walking distance to the beach. There, the couple enjoyed Saturday night dances at the Knights of Columbus Hall. (They were great on the dance floor and had been since the day they met when Dad would take her to see the “big band” orchestras of the day.) In the late sixties, Mom began working at T.W. Rogers styling wigs for patrons and later using her artistic ability setting up displays in the fine china department. Around 1980, she and Dad retired and moved to Naples, Florida. Mom’s sister, Josie, and husband Tony followed and moved into a home just down the street. The couples enjoyed each other’s company and often went for long walks on the beach to collect beautiful shells and sand dollars. They joined the local Italian American Club where they performed in musical productions. Mom took the lead making costumes, singing solos, and choreographing dance routines. Amazing!
During the twenty years they lived in Naples, Dad fell ill and passed in August 2000. Mom sold the house, donated the car to charity and moved to California to live with Mary Jane and family for a while. Being a very independent and strong women of 80+ years, she later decided to move to Connecticut where she bought a home just two miles from her son. She joined the Red Hatters and participated in lots of activities, exercise programs and events at the Senior Center there. Wherever Mom went she made such good friends who really loved her. Even as she aged, her persona remained very youthful and she could converse with anyone, no matter how old.
In September 2014, her son, our beloved brother passed away. The following April, Mom sold her home in Connecticut and moved back to California to be with her daughters. She moved into independent living in San Jose not far from Joyce and Mary Jane. There, she loved her chair yoga and exercise classes as well as Sunday services at the Chapel located on grounds. Again, she made great friends with staff and residents alike.
In May 2022, at 102 years of age and still able to use her walker, she moved into Villa Siena, a very warm and welcoming skilled nursing facility operated by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The day she moved in her top priority was to make sure her TV was connected to the internet so she could watch her favorite program, CNN News. At Villa Siena, she enjoyed daily mass and communion, bingo (often winning), short walks and saying the rosary with one of the Sisters. The staff got to know and love her very quickly. They told us how much they enjoyed her and how “vocal” and participatory she was in the activities – not shy and certainly not giving up!
All too soon, on July 9, 2022, Mom passed rather suddenly. In retrospect, she spent a lifetime loving her family, children, grandchildren and life itself. She left behind many: daughters, Mary Jane and Joyce, sister Josephine (now 104), nine grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, five great great grandchildren and more relatives and friends too numerous to mention.
Our hearts are broken. Mom, we love you so much! We wish you peace and joy on the other side and envision you dancing and singing in the light and love of those who have passed before you. Until we meet again...
Villa Siena Foundation
1855 Miramonte Ave, Mountain View CA 94040