Obituary of Maria Ranalletta
March 7, 2019. Maria is predeceased by her husband Felice Ranalletta; son Guido Ranalletta & sister Costanzina Rosati. She is survived by her daughter Gabriella (Andrew) Melia; daughter-in-law, Nancy Ranalletta; grandchildren, Joanna (Peter) Morreale, Andrew Melia, Jr., Daniel Melia, Cherie (Tony) Gugliotta; 9 great-grandchildren; sister Rina Malizia; several nieces, nephews, cousins & dear friends.
Maria's life story will be shared during her visitation, Monday, March 11th, 4-8 PM at the funeral home, 1411 Vintage Lane (Between 390 & Long Pond Rd.) Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, March 12th, 11 AM at St. Lawrence Church, 1000 N. Greece Rd., immediately followed by her entombment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to Hildebrandt Hospice, 2652 Ridgeway Ave., Rochester, NY 14626 in her memory.
Born: March 8th, 1917
(but registered at the town hall on March 11th)
In her family home in the mountain town of Celano, Italy
First of 4 children to Ottorina and Pasquale Ciaccia
Father died at age 48.
Mother died at age 98 and 10 months.
Maria was a teenager when her father died. Her mother was stricken with grief and became very depressed and weak, missing her young husband and worrying about how she would raise four children without a father especially since she had been a homemaker all her life.
Young Maria began an apprenticeship with a very talented and well-known seamstress in town, Augusta, who quickly became a dear friend and would one day become her sister-in-law.
Maria’s two sisters, Rina and Costanzina, helped their mother at home with the arduous tasks of cleaning, doing laundry in a mountain stream and cultivating, preparing and storing food stuffs for all the seasons as well as cooking daily meals while the youngest of the family, Mario, grew up to learn the trade of masonry.
Their home was very modest but they always had food for the body and the soul. They were raised in a loving and faith-filled home. The church and prayers were very much their main sustenance.
Maria loved participating in all church functions. As a child, she acted in religious plays and often would be missing from home at all hours, only to be found at the nearby tiny church, helping to organize some function or simply spending time with Jesus. She had a spiritual advisor as a young woman and a couple of her dear friends became nuns. For a time, Maria, also contemplated entering the convent.
Sometime during her youth, however, she met Felice and they fell in love, slowly and deeply. As teenagers, they promised to one day marry each other, but Maria’s devotion to her struggling family and the start of World War II delayed their plans for 15 years.
Maria and Felice were separated for five years during the war. Felice became a prisoner of war in South Africa with the British and wrote to Maria when he could but mail coming through was sporadic at best.
Upon his return home, they did finally reconcile, after years of each thinking that one had forgotten about the other. They married and had two children. Felice experienced some health issues and the stress of a growing town and his mail delivery tasks becoming overwhelming, they decided to request entry into the United States to search for opportunities for work and a better future. Italy was devasted by the war but it held family and tradition. Those ties would always remain dear no matter where Maria and Felice would live.
Maria’s sister, Rina, was already in the States with her American born husband, Gaetano Malizia, and their children, Nicolina, Pasquale, and eventually a new baby, Domenic. The visa request was accepted and in 1955, Maria and Felice and their two children (Guido and Gabriella) arrived by boat in New York City with legal residency due to Maria’s guarantee of work with Michaelstern’s Tailor Factory as a seamstress.
Rochester, New York, became the home of the two sisters and their families.
Felice took on several part-time odd jobs until he perfected the English he had picked up as a prisoner/cook in the British war camp. Eventually, with the recommendation of a kind friend of the family, he was hired at RG&E as a janitor, maintenance and security guard on the evening shift.
Maria worked during the day, taking the Crosstown bus every day to and from the tailor factory and Felice worked evenings til midnight. They provided a modest but loving home for their children and saved constantly to send them to catholic schools (Holy Apostles, Nazareth Academy and Aquinas) and catholic colleges (Nazareth College and St. John Fisher College).
Their homes were three houses apart and so the two families were raised almost as one, helping through bad times and celebrating and grateful through good. All the while maintaining a very strong bond with their home town family in Italy and sending money to help out.
Maria suffered through hip pain all her life. No one knows exactly how, but she had one leg shorter than the other and always walked with a limp. One story is that she was playing in a drawer of a china cabinet when she was little and the entire cabinet fell on her leg, hence the scar and maybe damage to the hip that never got resolved properly. Another story is that she had a motor-bike accident when riding behind someone and that caused a problem with the hip. Doctors in America thought maybe it could have been congenital. No way to know how it came to be but Maria never let that slow her down. Even with her limp, she would walk fast and move fast because she had to do, do, do.
In the early 60’s Maria had her first hip replacement at St. Mary’s hospital. The benefits from that surgery lasted many years but had to be redone in 1991. Then in 2005, at age 87, she had to have the “good” hip done. That surgery did not give her any relief from her pain and she suffered continually to the end.
When Michaelstern’s closed and Maria had recovered from her hip surgery in the 60’s, she did alterations and dress making in a tiny room off the garage. Her small business brought many attractive and gracious ladies who appreciated Maria’s expertise. Little children needing dance outfits or communion dresses and brides wanting adjustments or outfits for family members heard of Maria through friends and so the lights in her tiny sewing room stayed on frequently into the night.
Maria and Felice loved children and enjoyed spending time and doing things with their grand-daughter (Joanna), nephews (Richie and William) and nieces (Andrea, Renee, Julia, Laura and Natalie). They had a swing in the back yard to enjoy and always some cookie or candy to help the children make it til dinner. As the children grew, their wonderful spouses were welcomed: Peter Morreale, Gregg Espach, Matt Condon, Matt Folkes, Angela LeBlanc and Tom Sheffield.
The spouses of her sister, Rina’s, children also became a huge part of the family “village” in Rochester. Paul Olewnik, Angelina Gabriele and Lynette DeLuca became like Maria’s children too.
When possible, Maria and Felice travelled back to their family in Italy. The first trips also comprised pilgrimages to holy places and reuniting with good friends from their youth. But, as the years passed, navigating the cobblestone streets and tiny homestead quarters where they preferred to stay when in Celano, became physically impossible. Friends and relatives passed away and fewer people recognized them and their contribution to the former residents. Felice’s family handled the only Post Office in Celano and Maria sewed for so many brides in town, making her first wedding gown at the ate of 14.
After the death of her husband, Felice, in 1998, Maria had a stroke and went to live with her daughter, Gabriella, and son-in-law, Andy Melia. After her recovery from the stroke, Maria insisted on taking charge of cooking and helping out in any way that she could. As time went on and her health failed, she had to accept others doing for her.
She still kept doing for others through her prayers and through her crocheting skills. Scarves and blankets for ALL, young and not so young. She loved people and needed to show that love, if not by food, then by other means.
Her son, Guido, lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2004 at the age of 55. This was devasting for his wife, Nancy, and his daughter, Joanna, and of course, his mother, Maria. Guido had been born premature and Maria, in the small mountain town, had to give him up to a nursemaid for breast feeding for several months immediately after his miraculous birth/survival. Losing him again as an adult was unbearable.
Maria was blessed with more grandchildren (Andy Jr., Danny and Cherie) and spouses (Catherine Valente, Catherine DiPisa and Tony Gugliotta) and 9 Great-grandchildren (Andrew, Nicholas, Mary, Antonio, Elizabeth, Ava, Elaina, Ella and Lucas). They all had to learn to respond to her Italian remarks and questions about if they had a girlfriend or boyfriend or how beautiful they were in her eyes.
Upon the sad loss of Catherine DiPisa-Melia to cancer, Maria prayed and offered in every way she could to help her young family and loving husband, Danny. Catherine had been Maria’s translator and gentle aid in many situations and was dearly missed.
As Maria’s own health declined further, professionals came to the house in continuing frequency. She sometimes thought she was in a hospital and would asked when she would be going home. Maybe she was asking about her “eternal” home.
When her care at home became too challenging, Maria and her family received end of life comfort and guidance from the gentle and excellent staff at the Hildebrandt Hospice House.
She went to join her loved ones in heaven on March 7, 2019. Her passing was peaceful, loving and four hours prior to her 102nd birthday.
Since Italy is 6 hours ahead of Rochester time, Maria did complete 102 years.