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Maria Russo

Maria A. Russo

December 19th, 1928 - September 8th, 2019
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday September 10th, 2019 | 2:00pm - 4:00pm
    When
    Tuesday September 10th, 2019 2:00pm - 4:00pm
    Location
    Giove Funeral Home
    Address
    1000 Middle Country Rd
    Selden, NY
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Second Visitation

    Tuesday September 10th, 2019 | 7:00pm - 9:00pm
    When
    Tuesday September 10th, 2019 7:00pm - 9:00pm
    Location
    Giove Funeral Home
    Address
    1000 Middle Country Rd
    Selden, NY
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Wednesday September 11th, 2019 | 9:45am
    When
    Wednesday September 11th, 2019 9:45am
    Location
    St Margaret’s Church
    Address
    81 College Rd
    Selden, NY
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Location
    Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
    Address
    3442 Route 112
    CORAM, NY 11727
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Notes
    September 11, 2019 Following Mass

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Private Condolence
NC

Nicola chrzanowski

Posted at 05:36pm
Maria Angelina Mansi Russo was born on 19 December 1928 in London, England. The oldest daughter of an Italian immigrant (Alfonso) and his wife (Lucia), Maria grew up in a small apartment atop her father’s barber shop in southeast London together with her sisters, Toni and Trify, both of whom predeceased Maria.

The three sisters were separated from their parents when they were among the children who were evacuated from London during the German aerial bombardment of 1940-41, commonly known as the “Blitz”. They were moved several times from British home to British home as many families viewed the Mansi sisters as “enemy” children and did not want to care for them during the wartime crisis. For Maria, who was born and attended elementary school in London, this childhood experience was painful, and resulted in lifelong trauma from an ever-present sense of exclusion.

Maria returned to London after the Blitz and continued her education, receiving her “O” level in dressmaking. Until she lost complete use of her sight in her late 60s, Maria made most of her own gowns for formal events, as well as sewing dresses for her oldest daughter, Anna Maria. Maria was a wiz with a Simplicity Pattern and a Singer sewing machine. It seemed she could fix any patch or tear in a pair of trousers until the garment looked new again.

At 15 years old, Maria met her future husband, Nicola "Nick" Russo. Nicola was an Italian prisoner of war, captured by the English Army in Ethiopia, and sent to a work camp in Bricklayers’ Arms, London, after having spent about 3 years in a prison camp in Kenya. After a traditional and parentally approved and supervised courtship, Maria and Nick were engaged. There was a brief estrangement after the war when Nick returned to his hometown of Mola di Bari, but they reconciled by letter, and were married on 31 October 1948. (Halloween was not a holiday in England at that time but after moving to America, and for the rest of her life, Maria joked that her anniversary date proved that she really was a witch.) Their daughter, Anna Maria Russo Rutigliano, was born on 30 August 1949.

With encouragement from several of Nicola’s brothers, the family of three moved to Brooklyn in late summer of 1958. Son Gianvito Antonio (John Anthony) Russo was born soon thereafter on 6 February 1959. Alfonso Lucio Russo, the youngest of Maria’s children, was born on 20 August 1964.

Maria lived in Brooklyn for 33 years in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood. She charmed shoppers with her English accent as a sales clerk at Martin’s, a higher end clothing emporium in Downtown Brooklyn, and, later on, at Jelly Beanz, a small neighborhood storefront specializing in children’s wear. After Nick’s sudden death in 1985, Maria became a classroom teacher’s assistant at a nearby public elementary school in the nearby Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Always deeply religious, Maria was very involved in the St. Mary, Star of the Sea parish in Brooklyn. As a Eucharistic Minister, she brought the Holy Eucharist to the homebound and bedridden in hospitals and nursing homes and gave out communion during Mass. She led a weekly Catholic Charismatic prayer group that met in her small apartment. She attended Mass daily on her way to work. She even wrote songs of praise for her church choir.

Although she was devastated by her husband’s early passing, and never truly stopped mourning Nick’s loss, Maria began a new chapter in her life in which she became a dedicated world traveler. She toured many exotic locations, including India (where she was thrilled to meet Mother Theresa), the Holy Land, Egypt, the former Yugoslavia (where she prayed with several young Catholics who claimed to have had a vision from the Virgin Mary), Germany (where she saw the Passion Play performed once each decade at Oberammergau), Spain, and many other locations. She was often accompanied on these trips by one or both of her sisters, or her dear friend, Father John Punnakkunnell. Her travels often took her to California where she visited with her son, John, and her twin grandsons, Samaritan and Gabriel.

In 1991, Maria moved to Selden, NY, to be closer to her daughter and her son-in-law, Sabino Rutigliano as well as her granddaughters, Rosemarie Rutigliano Buckley and Nicola Rutigliano Chrzanowski. She soon became a fixture at St. Margaret of Scotland church where she continued her involvement in prayer groups, bible study and the Eucharistic Ministry. She was also a catechist and especially loved preparing children for their First Holy Communion.

Maria managed to live independently and on her own until just after her 86th Birthday. The passing of her youngest sister, Trify, who had been her best friend, (her sister Toni had passed away several years earlier) and a bad fall while walking, threw her into accelerating dementia. She reunited with all her lost loved ones on the early morning of 8 September 2019. She is survived by her two sons, her four grandchildren and her five great grandchildren, Anna, Dennis, Matthew, Annabelle, and Olivia. She will be remembered as a woman who loved God, was curious about the world He created and all His children, and had an epic life filled with war, peace, joy and loss. A life that was as full as any of us could want.


In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that those who feel the need to make a gift of remembrance do so by giving to Lighthouse/Helen Keller Foundation. The good work of this organization helped Maria to live a full life in the years after her sight was compromised. Or Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk
www.visitingnurseservice.org; Hospice House 101 Laurel Road, East Northport, NY 11731.



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