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Raffaella Sacco

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Raffaella Sacco Obituary
Raffaella "Lena" Sacco (nee Mazzella), born August 15, 1917, beloved wife (Joseph Sacco) and mother (Nancy Anne and Marie Sacco), an extraordinary woman, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family in Gurnee, IL on Tuesday Dec 11, 2012. Affectionately known as "Nonna" by her grandchildren (Michael Joseph, Marisa Faith, Matthew Holt, Dominic Eduardo and Vincent Gabriel) and by many family friends, she shared all the wonders of well-lived life through her faith and family with good friends and good food. Her strength of spirit and faith were indomitable as she battled various health issues, most especially surmounting a battle with Burkitt's lymphoma more than a decade ago and recovering from a stroke more than a year and half ago. Driven by her dreams, Lena left her mother's home in Naples, Italy to immigrate to the United States in 1950. She arrived in Long Island, NY where she became recognized for her skills as a seamstress. She went to night school to learn English, worked to become an American citizen, took great pride in being the only of five sisters to learn to drive and to live on her own (four sisters married and remained in Italy - Carmela Zorzetti, Rosa Russo, Margherita Saggese, America Califano). She returned to Italy in 1955 and became a favorite aunt to her nieces and nephews who were enthralled by her spirit and independence. The family "rebel," she married late in life to Joseph, 9 years her junior, in March 1957 with the understanding that they would leave Italy and raise a family in the US. Regardless of not having a higher education herself, she listened to and learned from those around her at work and in the community, was an avid reader, and in an unassuming manner humbled bankers, teachers, professors, priests, lawyers and doctors, many who became close family friends. She always reminded her daughters that education and hard work were the way forward and the dreams she had for them were the reasons she could leave her own behind. As a doting grandmother, her guiding hand and focus on family and education has not been lost. She and Joseph lived for more than 40 years together in Fairfield County, Connecticut where they were active and well-known in the community of St Raphael?s School and Parish, Bridgeport. In the last decade to be closer to grandchildren, they lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, then Ann Arbor, MI and finally the Chicago area. Lena is survived by Joseph, her husband of 55 years, her daughters Nancy Anne and Marie, and five grandchildren all presently residing in the Chicago area. She is also survived by her youngest sister America, and brother-in-law Tommaso Califano of Melita, Italy. She is lovingly remembered as the "favorite aunt" of more than 25 nieces and nephews, and as the "adventuresome aunt" for 20+ great-nieces and nephews, all of whom live in Italy. She will be dearly missed by family and friends, all of whom are a bit "richer" for having known her in life. Visitation will be at the McMurrough Funeral Chapel, 101 Park Place LIBERTYVILLE, IL on Thursday Dec 13 between 4 and 8 PM . Mass will be celebrated at St Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 6401 Gages Lake Rd, Gurnee on Friday Dec 14 at 10 AM. Entombment will follow at Ascension Cemetery on Buckley Road in Libertyville. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent in Raffaella "Lena" Sacco's memory to either the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, or to The University of Michigan Cancer Center, Hematology/Oncology Dept (Attention of Dr. Mark Kaminski), Ann Arbor MI. Funeral info 847-362-2626. Sign guest book at www.libertyvillefuneralhome.com.
Published in Chicago Tribune on Dec. 13, 2012
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