Emma (Stringari) Feiccabrino
12/31/1920 ~ 9/18/2013
Emma (Stringari) Feiccabrino, whose unfailing good cheer brightened the counter of a Main Street Walsenburg shop for more than 30 years and enlivened countless family gatherings for many more years than that, died at her home Wednesday, September 18, with family members at her side. She was 92.
Emma was most widely known in Walsenburg as a friendly face who greeted customers at J&L Electric in the 500 block of Main Street, where she and her husband Joe operated an appliance store and repair center for all things electrical for more than 50 years. He survives.
Emma often worked side by side with Joe in the store, a spot which also served as a source for popular music for the generation of Walsenburg youth who purchased vinyl 45 rpm discs from the J&L display case.
Joe and Emma often went on after-hours service calls together. Emma would pack coffee and sandwiches for a trip to repair commercial refrigeration installations on ranches and dairies in the far reaches of Huerfano County – sometimes including one or more the couple’s three children – to make the trip a family picnic as much as a repair mission.
Improvised family picnics were Emma’s specialty. For years she packed coolers of food into one of the J&L work vans for a family occasion. Using a metal milk crate over an open fire she would serve pasta in the Sand Dunes, at a Blue Lake fishing trip or mushroom hunting ventures on the Greenhorn to an appreciative group sitting on old quilts spread over the ground.
She never tired of the beauty of southern Colorado. When given a 35 mm camera, she took dozens of photographs of the Spanish Peaks from every angle, under every kind of light. Her children learned to count on an update on the Spanish Peaks when catching up on hometown news over the phone – new snow, lots of snow, not much snow and so on.
Born Emma Stringari on December 31, 1920, in Lester, CO, she was the sixth among nine children born to coal miner Vigilio Stringari, and his wife Rose Dalfior. She attended elementary and high school in Canon City.
She graduated from St. Mary’s College of Nursing in San Francisco in 1942 and served as a naval nurse in Mare Island Naval Hospital in Vallejo, CA, and at Camp Parks in Shoemaker, CA, from 1942-1944. She and Joe married on September 5, 1944, in St. Mary’s Church. They met on a blind date arranged by her sister Irene and her husband, Chuck Rino. Joe proposed marriage to Emma on Valentine’s Day 1942.
Emma’s polenta parties and pies earned her a reputation as a superior cook but she liked to confess that she had little instruction in cooking before she married. Her mother had taught her only how to cook a rabbit, so she served rabbit every day for weeks, until Joe finally protested.
She learned fast. She cooked as many 40 pies in a day to supply her close friends Nick and Mary Tessitorre when they owned the restaurant that is now known as Corrine’s.
Emma worked as a nurse in the Lamme Hospital and as a school nurse in Walsenburg schools. She went to work at J&L Electric in 1961 and retired in 1993.
She took delight in gardening, and was scrupulous about updating friends and family with a Christmas newsletter that noted, without fail that, “We still haven’t won the Lotto.”
Nothing in her hardscrabble youth in depression-era Colorado, attending to gravely wounded battle veterans in World War II or navigating the challenges of running a small business hardened her view of the world. She greeted life with joy, wonder, a sense of discovery and open affection she has passed along to generations of her family. Emma liked to close notes to love ones with, “I love you more than there are stars in the sky, and then some,” or similar sentiment.
Emma was preceded in death by her brothers Henry, Larry, Leo and Anthony; and her sisters Irene and Regina.
She is survived by her sister MaryAnn Nardini and brother Virgil (Barbara) Stringari; children, Joseph (Barbara) Feiccabrino, Arleen Feiccabrino, Marla (Luke) Clarke; grandchildren Joseph Feiccabrino, Barbara George, Shawn Feiccabrino, and James Feiccabrino; Aaron Wagner, Nathan (Jennifer Vierthaler) Wagner and Rebecca (Adam) Garcia; Patrick Clarke and Antonina Clarke; great grandchildren Cyndi George; Makenna Garcia, Emma Garcia and Avery Wagner; great-great grandson Draven Morton; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Rosary will be recited at Saturday, Sept. 28 at10 am., followed by Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church. A reception will follow at the Walsenburg Golf Course.
Boies-Ortega is in charge of arrangements.
Donations are suggested to Sangre de Cristo Hospice and Palliative Care, 1207 Pueblo Blvd., Pueblo, CO 81005 or Sister Sr. Carol Tlach, Senior Outreach, P.O. Box 86, Walsenburg, CO 81089.
Emma (Stringari) Feiccabrino