Marie Maddaloni Cafiero passed away peacefully at home in Suisun City, California, on March 10, 2019, where she lived with her son and daughter-in-law, Anthony and Irene Cafiero. Marie was predeceased by her spouse of 67 years, Anthony (Sonny) Cafiero. Marie was 96 years old.
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Born in New York City in 1922, Marie was the daughter of Giuseppe Maddaloni and Angelina Scorcia, immigrants from Naples and Bari, Italy. She grew up in the Bronx in a large extended family. Marie attended Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School on scholarship and worked as a secretary at M. Lowenstein & Sons in Manhattan. In 1943, Marie married Anthony (Sonny) Cafiero, and they built a life together with Marie working as a secretary for the family contracting business. Marie and Sonny lived in Nutley, Fairfield, and Waretown, New Jersey, before retiring to Vero Beach, Florida, where they enjoyed time with their daughter Jane and her family.
Marie was a formidable presence in the family; she was a complex mix of glamour and grit. Although an Italian American woman, Marie was fiercely independent and outspoken (without apology), whether it was to her family or her boss. Marie realized her dream of becoming a 2nd grade teacher, graduating from William Paterson University, magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Children’s Literature. Although her peers were 30 years her junior, she was embraced as an equal colleague. When Marie was 54 years old, she secured her first teaching job as a second grade teacher at Beach Haven Elementary School. Parents clamored for their children to be in Mrs. Cafiero’s class; her students consistently outscoring their peers in reading and math. During Marie’s career as an educator, she artfully juggled her work of being an involved grandmother, (sharing the latest Caldecott books), and attending many of her grandchildren’s First Communions, Confirmations and Graduations, often traveling miles to do so. The home she created was a meeting place for the entire family during the summer and holidays. Marie, or “Grammy,” had a special relationship with each of her grandchildren, and her support ranged from wrestling the “wild ones” to the ground to being a nurturing mother figure and mentor.
After her husband, Sonny, died, Marie lived with her daughter Joanne in Rockville, Maryland, spending summers with daughter Janine in MInocqua, Wisconsin. In spite of the trauma of so many moves as a married woman and later as an elder, she handled these transitions with an unusual grace. In 2016, Marie moved, once again, to California to live with her son Anthony and his wife.
Marie was also predeceased by her son, Dennis and his wife Linda Keyes Cafiero, and is survived by her children, Joanne Cafiero of Brookfield, CT; Janine (Vernon) Myers of Minocqua, WI; Jane Sendrovich of Vero Beach, FL, and Anthony (Irene) Cafiero of Suisun City, CA; 11 grandchildren, Peter, Christopher, Angela, Dennis, Jason, Danielle, Christy, Bucky, Elizabeth, Raisa and Jorene and 10 great-grandchildren, Justin, Ryan, Camryn, Matteo, Sydney, Brandon, Layla, Mina, Vern and Jacob.
Viewing will be at Purcell Chapel and Funeral Home in Bushnell, FL, from 6-8 PM on Wednesday, March 20, with a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Lawrence Church in Bushnell, FL, at 8:30 AM. Burial will follow at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to Reading Partners, a non-profit that trains volunteers to support struggling readers. (https://readingpartners.org/).