Nancy Ludovico Smith
Portsville—Nancy Ludovico Smith, beloved Eastern Shore seamstress and longtime resident of Portsville, Del., died Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. She was 95.
Known throughout the Delmarva Peninsula for her stylish sewing and creativity, Nancy will be remembered most for the nearly 200 wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses she
fashioned from pictures. She especially liked working with brides she said in a 1974 interview because "They're so radiant — and I can give then some motherly advice and a few Italian recipes."
Discarded ties, costume jewelry, scraps of material, lace, buttons and trims all became works of art in Nancy's hands. She created handbags, totes, Christmas stockings and tree skirts and wine holders with her heirloom sewing machine, obtained when the Seaford Shirt Factory closed. Her days often started before sunrise on her sewing porch and ended at dinnertime.
Nancy was born Annunziata Ludovico on March 25, 1917, in Gioia del Colle, a small peasant village in southern Italy. The seventh child of Maria Benedetto and Pasquale Ludovico, she was born the day her mother learned her father had been killed in World War 1.
As a young widow, her mother immigrated to America with Nancy and her siblings in 1921 and settled in New York City. Nancy's commercial sewing career began when she was 15, fitting mannequins with academic robes in Manhattan. Early on, she learned the value of hard work and shared her paycheck to help support the family.
After a visit to Delaware in 1940, Nancy met her future husband, James Lee Smith, a merchant marine from Portsville, on the return train to New York. They wed in 1941
and moved to Portsville two years later. Lee Smith, the third generation of seafaring men in his family, was lost at sea off a tanker in 1958.
Nancy elected to stay in Portsville with her two small children and build her sewing business in the sunroom her husband had built for her. Although she never advertised, word of her talents spread quickly and she soon was working full-time. Her zest for life and infectious personality brought much return business over the next several decades.
Stranger to few and friend to many, Nancy also enjoyed cooking and hosted many dinner parties. She was a member of several organizations, including the American Legion Auxillary. Nancy also was active in Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Seaford and the Portsville United Methodist Church, organizing bazaars, May fairs and fashion shows
and lending her talents by sewing altar curtains and christening bibs.
In addition to her parents and husband, Nancy was also predeceased by her brothers, Pete, Louis, and Tony Ludovico, and sisters, Rose Procino, Ana Ludovico, and Julia Caputo. She is survived by a son, Robert L. of Fort Pierce, Fla., and a daughter, Starrie Thomas and her husband, David, of Portsville; grandchildren Justina Sapna and husband, George, of Seaford, Mamie Otero and her husband, John, of Greenwood, and David and his wife, Karen, of Delmar; great-grandchildren Isabella and George Sapna, Kristin Otero, Alissa Thomas, Alison Weeg, and Jackson and Lucy Thomas. Several nieces and nephews also survive her.
A viewing will be held at Hannigan, Short, Disharoon Funeral Home at 700 West St. in Laurel on Monday, Feb. 11, from 6-8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be held Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 28 Stein Hwy. in Seaford. Interment will follow in Portsville Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 28 Stein Hwy., Seaford, Del. 19973 or Portsville United Methodist Church, 6985 Shell Bridge Road, Laurel, Del. 19956.
Online condolences can be made to the family by visiting, www.hsdfuneralhome.com