1930 - 2020
Resident of San Jose
Delores Riccitiello – mother, wife, grandmother, career woman, beloved friend – died in her sleep on December 27, 2020 in San Jose. Delores was an exuberant person who took great joy in her children, her grandchildren, the San Francisco Giants, her garden, traveling and Christmas shopping and celebration. She was an inspiration to many in her 90 years.
Delores was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1930, to Ralph and Sylvia Switzer, who adored her and her sister Phyllis. She learned the value of hard work from her father, who usually held down two jobs, and her mother, who worked her whole life. Her love of family and dedication to her children, she got from her father. Delores learned her playful mischievousness from her mother. The two of them would play practical jokes on neighbors, especially on May Day, when they would drop an old boot filled with flowers and popcorn and cow pies on someone's doorstep. She loved having fun and eating her favorite foods, like watermelon and cherries. As a child, she once "accidentally" dropped a watermelon on the floor, so it would have to be eaten right away. Being from Iowa, she had so many stories about working on a farm, with stories of corn and chickens.
Delores attended Iowa State in Ames where she met a dashing young New Yorker studying chemistry, Salvatore Riccitiello, who became her husband. The two lived in Tallahassee, Florida, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Creve Couer, Missouri, before settling in San Jose in 1967 with their five children: Mike, John, David, Kim and Tracy. The Riccitiello household was a busy place, with football players over for dinner, cars being rebuilt in the driveway by David, extra friends welcome any time – even on Christmas Eve, the family's most special night of the year, when Sal and his sons would compete to see who could make the best lasagna. In December (Christmas) 1983, Delores hosted her son John's friends from Spain and even helped officiate a tag football game at the local high school. Delores reveled in every element of Christmas, but especially in seeing her grandkids open the presents she showered on them.
Delores worked at a Leigh High School before starting a career in real estate in 1975, working hard to find just the right house for young couples, and many early transplants to the Bay Area coming to work in technology. She would reduce her commission to help young people afford their new home.
Always ready for an adventure, Delores went on safari and rode on a camel in Kenya, climbed thousands of stairs in Italy, swam in the ocean on her 80th birthday in Hawaii with her entire family and went hot air ballooning in Napa Valley for her 70th birthday. (That trip almost wiped out all the Riccitiellos, as the balloon had a rocky landing, skidded and tipped over. She just laughed and enjoyed the ride!) In her late 30s, Delores decided to try riding one of David's motorcycles and ended up wiping out and breaking her foot. She was ready for most anything.
Delores always believed in her family and fought for their success. Her children and many of her grandchildren called her "Ma". Ma was there to help Mike as he worked through UCLA and became a lawyer after graduating from Hastings. When John got rejected from UC Berkeley, Ma sat with him to help write a letter that got him accepted. Ma was always there for David, whenever he needed her. When Kim became a single Mom with her daughter Sally, Ma stepped in to help raise her, and was there as an advocate and cheerleader for her. And, Tracy, the youngest had a handful of years as the last child at home, and during these years Ma and Tracy talked, and supported each other like sisters. Ma was Tracy's best friend. With her children and grandchildren, Ma attended plays and concerts and football games and graduations for all -– always proud of every accomplishment.
Delores had a severe case of sepsis in 2011 and almost died. After six weeks in the ICU, she fought for months to get her life back. She recovered for nine more years of Christmas celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners, corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day, summer birthday barbeques. She danced, even when in a wheel chair, hands in the air, twirling and spinning. One highlight of her recovery was seeing her beloved Giants play in the World Series at AT&T Park.
The passing of Delores leaves a giant hole in the Riccitiello family. She was such a joyful, loving, remarkable woman. She will be missed and celebrated for the rest of our lives. Delores leaves behind her husband Sal, her son John and his fiancée, Elizabeth, son David and his wife Megan, daughter Kim, and daughter Tracy and her husband Mike. Delores grieved every day the loss of her son, Mike, and her grandson, Nick. Her grandchildren, Sally Riccitiello, Michael and Connor LeDeit, Kelly and David Riccitiello, Kate and Kristen Riccitiello, and Robina Heft, miss her light and her love and will keep her memory alive through stories and practical jokes and a shared love of lasagna and Christmas.
Delores will be remembered at a family service in January. If you wish to honor her memory, eat an extra piece of birthday cake or a slice of watermelon, and smile. She'll surely be smiling back at you. View the online memorial for Delores Riccitiello