Filomena Runco (96) passed away at ~01:06 on March 15, 2019 under hospice care in Pasadena, Texas, having left her Yonkers home of 51 years to live in Texas with her son, Mario, after she was widowed in 2016.
Filomena was born in Carolei, Province of Cosenza, Calabria, Italy on January 3, 1923 to Carlo Antonio Ragusa (11/21/1890-5/5/1928, interred 5/8/1928 as “Charles”, Mt. Olivet, Detroit MI) and Rosa Ragusa (12/24/1893-1/7/1982, nee: Pulicicchio). Christened Filomena, but one of her parents or grandparents preferred the name “Vanda” and had hoped that would be her given name, called her that anyway. The name stuck until it later became “Wanda” after she emigrated to America where she quickly learned English and continued her education through junior high school. She arrived in America at the age of 16 traveling alone aboard the SS Conte di Savoia, where she was taken under the wing of a kindly Italian woman who was traveling with a similarly aged daughter, arriving in New York City on February 3, 1939 to live the American dream. She initially resided with her Aunt Bombina Maria Broccoli (12/24/1893-4/2/1972, nee Pulicicchio) and her first cousin Louis Dominic (4/5/1929-10/16/2003) on St. Nicholas Terrace in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan near the City College of New York campus, where coincidentally her younger son would later attend college. She was naturalized as a U.S. Citizen on August 29, 1944 (U.S. District Court NY Petition #485436).
Soon after her arrival in America Wanda met the love of her life of almost 77 years, Mario Runco (aka Mario Ernesto Runco). After he returned from the war, they were married at Sacred Heart Church, Bronx, NY on a rainy Mother’s Day Sunday, May 12, 1946, honeymooning in Atlantic City, NJ and setting up residence in an apartment at 1215 Nelson Avenue in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, where they lived until April of 1965 when they purchased and moved into their first and only home in Yonkers, NY. Wanda loved to cook and provided the most delicious southern Italian fare to all who entered her home, which she meticulously kept with pride. After almost 71 years of marriage, she was widowed.
Wanda’s earliest recollection of work was helping her beloved maternal grandfather, Giovanni Pulicicchio (10/20/1855-11/20/1940), make wine in the traditional Italian way and taking care of the neighborhood dog, Monica, with the help of her maternal grandmother Rachela (4/11/1881-2/8/1935, nee Principe) and her paternal grandparents Serafino and Filomena Ragusa (nee Porco). At about the time she met Mario, she began her U.S. working career at an F.W. Woolworth’s in Times Square and after three years then took a job at a Walgreen’s luncheonette near Wall Street for about seven years and only left there after 3 months into her first pregnancy in June 1948. A hard and diligent worker, she earned the favor of managers and was able to garner the prize wait stations where she could earn the most. In later years she would fondly recount stories to her children of the sometimes odd and quirky characters who frequented the place.
Wanda was always very good with arithmetic and by default became the family’s budget analyst and financial planner. Living frugally but not austerely she saw to it that the family saved enough to pay for the future education of their children and amass a nest egg for their retirement years, all without any advice or financial assistance from any source and with only what the family earned. She was a model of self-reliance and courage. When her children were about
five to seven years old, Wanda decided to return to work to supplement the family’s income, taking such positions as a coat checker at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC and as a hostess at the now defunct Patricia Murphy’s Candlelight and Howard Johnson’s restaurants in Yonkers.
A loving, caring, and dedicated wife, mother, and loyal American she is survived by her sons, A.M. (70) and Mario Jr. (67), and her grandchildren, Anthony Mario Jr. (29) and John Joseph (27) by A.M. and Maria Margaret (30) and Carl Christopher (28) by Mario Jr. She was predeceased by her husband and her lone younger sibling (Candida Casini, nee Ragusa, 3/6/1925-3/6/2013).
Visitations will be held on Friday, April 5, 2019, 4:00-8:00 pm and Saturday, April 6, 2019, 9:15-11:15 am at F. Ruggiero & Sons Funeral Home, 732 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, NY, followed by a funeral Mass to be held at 12:00 noon, April 6, 2019 at Sacred Heart Church, 1253 Shakespeare Avenue, Bronx, NY, the church where she and Mario were married and where her children were christened/baptized/confirmed. Entombment will be with her husband after the mass at Woodlawn Cemetery, 517 E. 233rd St, Bronx, NY.
Friends and family are invited to celebrate Wanda’s life and offer stories and anecdotes about Wanda at the visitations and during the Mass. Refreshments will be available at the visitations and a hosted reception at the F&J Pine Restaurant, 1913 Bronxdale Avenue, Bronx, NY will follow entombment. Attendees of the visitations and/or the Mass and other friends and family are most welcome to join the family for the repast. Please RSVP for the reception to email@example.com.
PLEASE NOTE: The venue for the Funeral Mass has changed from Saint John the Baptist in Yonkers to Sacred Heart Church in the Bronx.