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Mary Caligari Russo

1926 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Mary Caligari Russo

Virginia Beach - Mary Caligari Russo departed this life on March 19, 2014 at her home in Atlantic Shores. Born June 2, 1926 in Norfolk, Virginia, she was the daughter of Eugene and Cecelia Caligari.

Mary attended Holy Trinity High School in Norfolk, graduating in 1944. She attended Dunbarton College and then Richmond Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) where she studied interior design. Mary began her career working for her father at E. Caligari & Son as an interior designer. She later served as President of E. Caligari & Co. in Norfolk. While running her business, Mary continued the volunteer efforts she began as a child.

From an early age Mary was imbued with the spirit that each individual can have a great impact on the world. Her first volunteer effort was as a little girl when she ran a lemonade stand for the children's hospital. From there she embarked on a career of service to her community. Just some of her volunteer efforts focused on contributing to the betterment of the lives of children, including the Virginia Drug Abuse Advisory Council, Pendleton Child Service Center, the United Way Family Center, the Advisory Board of Virginia Beach Vocational Technical School, First Steps Virginia and implementation of Driver Education in schools. Mary's many other activities included chairing the Citizens' Corp Counsel of Virginia Beach.

Among the many honors bestowed upon Mary were the 1970 First Citizen of Virginia Beach, University of Notre Dame Exemplar Award, the Virginia Beach Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Volunteer Award and the Virginia Beach Rotary Club Outstanding Volunteer Award.

In 1976 the Virginia Beach City Council appointed Mary as the first head of the Office of Volunteer Resources for the city. Overseeing volunteer programs for the city's libraries, museums and emergency medical services, among other activities, the office saved over $20 million each year for the city.

Mary was married for nearly 55 years to Judge Philip L. Russo who predeceased her. She is survived by her three children, Mary R. Riley (Morgan), Lee Ann Russo (Kevin Miller) and Philip L. Russo, Jr. (Jane Tucker) and her six grandchildren, John Philip Riley, Eli Miller, Ezra Miller, Sarah Russo, Andrew Russo and Ben Russo. She is also survived by her sister Cecelia Caligari Gerloff.

A Memorial Mass in celebration of Mary's life here on earth will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 11:00 AM at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 712 Little Neck Road, in Virginia Beach. The Reverend Venancio "June" Balarote will officiate. Memorial donations can be made to Freda H. Gordon Hospice @ Palliative Care of Tidewater or the .

Online condolences may be sent to the family at hdoliver.com

H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Laskin Road Chapel is handling arrangements.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 21, 2014
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