Mary Chiulli (ne Mingolelli); Wins Game of Life passed away at home on Thursday, 9 May after a brief illness, at 101. Born December 17, 1911, exactly eight years after the Wright Brothers took to the air, she was a lifelong resident of Somerville. The eldest of four, she never let the fact that she was the only female, or her diminutive stature get in her way. She was the first in the family to attend college, and graduated from Salem Normal School (now Salem State) in 1930. She drove across the country and back, and took a cruise to Europe in the the 30's, when few single women traveled. Music was a passion, and she was somewhat of a natural artist, playing the violin, accordion and piano by ear. There are several newspaper records of her concerts. She taught in the Somerville Public school System for 35 years, and helped shape the lives of over 1,000 Somerville kids. Almost everyone knows someone who had 'Mrs Julie' as a teacher. In some cases, she had an entire family of six or seven children - in others, she had the same child 2 or 3 times as she moved between grades. Several of her students corresponded with her to the end of her life. She was dedicated to the profession and to making learning fun. Our family has an enduring memory of her preparing lessons plans at the kitchen table, even after 35 years, on the eve of her retirement. She truly believed that there were no unreachable children - and that teachers were meant to find the key to unlock and stimulate their interest and potential. Her efforts often went way beyond classroom dictates. She brought an element of teaching to everything - endless word and rhyming games when we were young, scheduled trips to the library to explore the magic of books, all the way through to sending back lovingly edited college letters. She instilled her love of reading, music and travel in her children. Word games were an addiction - all types. She didn't eat breakfast until she had finished the daily crossword, but would also do the cryptoquotes and anagrams. She was the hands-down spelling bee champ at the VNA Assisted Living facility in Somerville. And no one dared to call at 7 while Wheel of Fortune was on! While lying on a gurney in the ER at 2 AM only two weeks ago, my brother read her the letters of the Word Jumble, which she quickly solved. The secret of this incredible longevity? We think it's the RedSox. Having seen them win the Series in 1918, she was always sure that they would do it again. After 86 patient years, she got her wish - not once but twice, and in spectacular fashion, and so she was convinced we were now 'on a roll'. At the 100th Anniversary Fenway Park game last April (see pic of Mary and daughter on the Jumbotron), her favorite part was the opening ceremony where she got to see so many of her favorites again. And of course, we visited on Mother's Day, too - one time only 2 weeks after surgery. Wife of the late Anthony Chiulli, she is survived by two children, Dr Robert Chiulli of Lancaster, MA, Mary Ann (Mac) Chiulli and her husband, Robert Moore of New York City, one grandchild, Lisa Chiulli-Lay, her husband, Richard and their three beautiful daughters, Sofia, Alexandra and Sara. Mary and the youngest one are 100 years apart. Ever the teacher, she showed us all how to live and how to die. We wish that everyone could have a mother like her. Donations could be made to the Robert C. Chiulli Memorial Scholarship Fund, C/O Nashoba Regional Scholarship Fund, NRSF PO Box 523, Bolton, MA 01740 or the Dana Faber Cancer Reseach, PO Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284. www.dana-faber.org/gift.
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Published in The Somerville Journal from June 11 to June 18, 2013