Rose (Mangieri) Ross. Rosie lived and loved for 103 years, a devoted wife to Mario (her "Muddeo" as she called him in an affectionate if imperfect Italian accent), a wonderful mother to David and Maddy and her daughter-in-law Joanne, and a proud grandma to her especially loved Peter.
She died peacefully at her Brighton Heights home in the arms of her loving daughter who was privileged to care for her through the years.
A rare beauty with a precious gift for accepting everyone without judgment or prejudice, Rosie was the rock when trouble loomed or sickness struck. She gave wise advice to the young and stayed bedside during any hospitalizations in the extended family. When a teenaged nephew was hospitalized, she remained with him holding his hand, then brought him home to nurse back to health while his parents worked. Many years later, as she approached 100 years old, she was at his bedside holding his hand again in his final illness. He said "I knew you'd be here Aunt Rosie." Everyone did. Her steadfastness and loyalty were legendary.
In her travels with family, she would befriend everyone she saw while others were appreciating the landmarks. She let little Chinese girls stroke her hair and face when she became one of the first Westerners to enter that country; when she met a Maasai warrior in Kenya, she embraced him as if he were her old neighbor from Manchester, his towering two-foot advantage and spear notwithstanding. In photo after photo, she could be seen hugging and being hugged in all languages and cultures. Connecting and embracing, she had the hug felt round the world.
She was a late-in-life traveler, at the insistence of her daughter. Her modest North Side life had kept her local for much of it. She and Muddeo took their children as far as Lake Erie and they considered crossing the McKees Rocks Bridge for Mancini bread going overseas. But once she tasted the world's bread, she could not be stopped.
Rosie was an even later adventure-seeker: parasailing at age 80, hot air ballooning over the Maasai Mara at 78, riding a camel in Morocco, an elephant in Thailand, a donkey up the steep slopes of Santorini. At each moment, a look of wonder and a "Who would have thought?" For her 90th birthday, she and her family cruised many ports in Europe. But the family couldn't keep up.
Rosie was born in Pittsburgh in 1916 to John Baptiste Mangieri and Madalena Ippolito Mangieri, both hailing from Sant' Arsenio, south of Naples. She was one of six girls and a boy whose childhood was joyous and rambunctious, especially with dozens of cousins in the picture, even though money was tight and her by-then widowed mother took in laundry and boarders to put food on the table. Rosie was so petite, the family thought she was frail. She spent the next hundred years proving them wrong.
In high school, she met Muddeo, and although they went to two different schools together, he found a way: meeting her at Allegheny High every morning with a doughnut and then sprinting a mile to Oliver High to make his own classes. They were married at Regina Coeli Church months before he was drafted into World War II and assigned as a medic to Walter Reed Hospital, assisting with amputations in the OR and then helping to rehabilitate the patients. On each leave home, he would bring several amputees who couldn't home for the holidays home to Rose. So began her personal wounded warrior work. Even so, she and Muddeo were alone sometimes. Son David was born before the war ended, Maddy came four years later The Rosie-Muddeo household was full of laughter. . Rose had a mischievous wit that age would not diminish.
When her children began school, she started work as a medical assistant, alongside her sister Louise, to Dr. F. J. Santora and then his son, Dr. Jim Santora. She was beloved by the patients for her trademark compassion and affection.
After Muddeo's death in 1988, she became an integral part of her daughter's newspaper family, attending conferences and banquets and patiently listening to story after story. At home, she would re-edit the newspaper brilliantly. She also attended Mass daily with three of her sisters (the Golden Girls, the altar servers called them) before heading to a senior program where she sang in a choir and danced in a line.
When son David married Joanne, Rosie finally got her blond daughter, who she loved mightily and a grandson who gave her continuous joy. After David's death, Joanne introduced her to Paul Varnum, who she immediately embraced and grew to love.
In addition to Muddeo and David, she was predeceased by her parents and sisters, Libby Maloy, Elizabeth Cammarata, , Mary Bilovesky, Margaret Mullaugh and Louise Mangieri, and her brother, John Mangieri.
Surviving are her daughter, Maddy, Joanne, Peter and Paul and many loving nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, and special caregiver Hilda Ramsey.
Because of the coronavirus restrictions, funeral services were held for immediate family only. But we ask the extended family and friends to recall the celebrations of her life we shared at numerous birthdays, including her 100th, when 200 guests from 14 states joined her here.
We will always cherish and try to emulate her humor and hugs, loyalty and love, serenity, peace, faith and hope. Especially now.
Memorial contributions may be made the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 1 N. Linden Street. Duquesne, PA 15110 or on line. Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home, Inc., handled the funeral arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rose (Mangieri) Ross, please visit our floral store.