Theresa was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, the middle child of Italian immigrants. “The Hill” was a typical Italian neighborhood, where the baker on the corner regularly let Theresa’s mother bring her fresh bread dough to be baked in their oven, as the loaf was much too large to be baked at home. When the huge loaf was brought home, family, friends, and neighbors would all stop by to enjoy a slice. Theresa’s grandfather would make homemade wine, which he liked to offer to her girlfriends, much to her chagrin.
Theresa lived at home until she married Carl at the age of 31. She enjoyed taking the train to her office job in Chicago, and defying her mother’s wishes to wear galoshes in the winter. She went to many
USO dances and her dance card was always full. Her father, who worked the night shift, insisted that she not stay out too late, but she got around that by jumping into bed fully clothed and pretending to be asleep when he got home. She did live for a brief time in Long Beach during WWII, where she was named Miss Smaller War Plant. She worked in an office on the Naval base and enjoyed taking her lunch outside on the lawn by the docks, until she was told that she had to stop because the ships were listing to one side because all the sailors went to the side of the boat to look at her. Her future husband, Carl, happened to be stationed at the Naval base on Treasure Island with Theresa’s brother, Nick, which is how Carl saw a picture of Theresa and started writing to her. They corresponded for 10 years, meeting in person a few times along the way, until Carl finally went to Chicago Heights and asked her to marry him.
Theresa and Carl returned to California, living in the East Bay area, and then the North Bay, where Carl was a teacher and coach for several different schools. Their son, Mark, began playing ice hockey as a teenager in Santa Rosa, and Theresa was the one who drove him to the 5am practices on a weekly basis. Theresa and Carl enjoyed trips to Tahoe, the Italian-American dances at the Vets Hall, and visits to the beach. Theresa attended mass most Sundays at St. Eugene’s. Every summer, they packed Mark into the car and drove to Chicago Heights to visit her family.
After Carl passed in 2010, Theresa went to live with Mark, Rebecca, and her granddaughter Melissa in their granny-unit, affectionately known as The Sugar Shack. Theresa soon became very popular amongst their friends and she enjoyed many Sunday Suppers, backyard barbeques, and cocktails at Mack’s Bar & Grill, where she discovered her favorite drink – Sex on the Beach. Theresa was also always happy to go to the casino with her dear friend and caregiver Jackie, and to the barn with Rebecca to watch the horses, and to lunch at In-N-Out with her longtime friend Laurie. Theresa also learned the pleasure the of mani-pedi and brightly colored nail polish.
Theresa always had a smile on her face and her humor was quick and funny. She always perked up if a cute boy came into the room, or if Tom Selleck was on TV. Theresa’s Facebook posts were always numerously Liked.
Theresa passed away peacefully at home, with her beloved son Mark by her side. We were all so lucky to have her for so long, and she will truly be missed.
A service for Theresa will be held at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery Chapel on Friday, December 14th at 1:00pm. Donations to Council on Aging in lieu of flowers are encouraged.