Mary Elizabeth Gasperini Paterniani 

Mary Elizabeth (Gasperini) Paterniani, 104, of Ridgefield, died on Monday, September 7, 2015.
Mrs. Paterniani was the first surviving child born on April 4, 1911 to Teresa Bedini and Nazzareno Gasperini, immigrants from Le Marche, Italy.  The family, which also included Ida and Lena, two younger sisters, was living at the Port of Missing Men in North Salem, NY, where her father was the foreman for the Anderson estate.  With her clear mind she recalled many interesting stories of those pioneer, horse and buggy days.  Mary had such fond memories of those childhood days, and truly enjoyed taking anyone who might be interested for a tour of the Port of Missing Men. She would tell them stories such as: walking with her sisters for miles to school in the winter, picking up bottled milk at the bottom of the long hill and carrying it up the icy hill. Once she accidentally dropped the milk can and watched it slide back down the hill and had to go back down to get it and start all over again. She also recalled being chased by a horse while she was flying a kite which she had made and decorated with a huge bright red tomato drawing, etc.

In 1922 the Gasperini family moved to Ridgefield.  As a young adult, Mary enjoyed being a violinist as well as working in her father’s grocery store, Brunetti and Gasperini’s, on Prospect street.  In 1931, Mary married Primo Paterniani.   Mary was a very respected, hard worker.  During the depression with its many known hardships she worked 3 jobs a day to help “make ends meet”  for her young family.  During WWII, Mary, with her caring and generous spirit, not only found time to be a Red Cross worker, but would also feed Italian Prisoners of War in a prison camp in New Jersey on Sundays with many chickens she had roasted.  Family trips to the prison camp were memorable outings.   

Mary was an amazing cook and baker.  Her Christmas cookies were  legendary among those who were lucky enough to receive them.  In fact, she had been urged by many to open a bakery in town, but was too humble to do so. Mary was a dignified woman of great strength, courage, integrity, and deep faith.  She lived her faith through her amazing kindness and generosity, and as a dedicated and active member of St Mary’s Catholic Church.  Mary was an active participant in numerous events over the years, including the Rosary Society, the Adoration Society, Sr. Joan’s Monthly Lunches, and many others.  

Mary was deeply moved by being honored on her 100th birthday by personal Proclamations from the President of the United States, the Governor of the State of Connecticut and the Selectman of the Town of Ridgefield.  On April 4th, 2015, her 104th birthday, the  Ridgefield Board of Selectmen honored Mary by declaring the day as “Mary Paterniani Day”.  In all ways, Mary Paterniani was a member of “The Greatest Generation”.

Mary was predeceased by her husband, Primo, and her two sisters Ida Mazzi and Lena Franchino.

Mary’s legacy lives on through her three daughters: Lucille Paterniani of New York, Teresa and her husband Neil Cooper from California,  and Christina and her husband Bruce of Ridgefield.  She also lives on through her six grandchildren and their spouses: Paul Cooper, James Cooper and wife Rita, Mark Cooper and wife Diana, Mary Elizabeth Johnson and husband Carl; Kathy Ranck and by Sharon Ranck and husband Georg.  Mary also lives on through her 12 great-grandchildren: Paul Primo Johnson, Teresa L. Cooper, Anabelle Cooper, Christian Cooper, Grace Cooper, Teresa Johnson, Isabella Cooper, Angelina Cooper, Christopher Cooper, Emma Johnson, Alina Ranck and Breann Ranck.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 10:15 a.m. in St. Mary Church, Ridgefield with Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz officiating.

Interment will follow in St. Mary Cemetery, Ridgefield.

The family will receive friends in the Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield on Thursday, September 10, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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Jowdy Kane and Kane Funeral Homes