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Memories & Candles

“Prayers to the entire Ciaramitaro family. I have great childhood memories of one of the wonderful moms in our neighborhood, Mrs. Ciaramitaro .The...Read More »
1 of 2 | Posted by: Cyndi Griffith Raymon - FL

“I love my Aunt Bella. I have such wonderful memories of her. When I was a child, I spent a week or so of my summer vacation with her and her family....Read More »
2 of 2 | Posted by: Rose Ann Chippi - harbor springs, MI


Bella Theresa Martines Ciaramitaro came into this world on very late summer's day in 1922 in Detroit. Henry Ford's $5-a-day wage had brought scores of immigrants to Detroit, including a couple from Sicily, Bella's parents, Steve and Stella (Virga) Martines, . Bella was one of their 5 children.

Bella grew up in Detroit and had the unfortunate experience of breaking her ankle the first day of school at Cass Tech. That didn't stop Bella's love of dancing, however. It was that passion that led her to be at the Graystone Ballroom one evening when she met the love of her life, Sam Ciaramitaro. World War II interrupted their romance; Sam joined the Army and was sent to Italy. He took part in Operation Shingle, the Allied landing on Anzio Beach, Italy in January 1944 (six months before Normandy). Even so occupied, he continue to write Bella faithfully. He survived the war and came home to be married to his Bella on September 8, 1945 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Detroit.

Sam became a truck driver and Bella a homemaker. They settled on the west side of Detroit, in the Greenfield and Grand River area, to be close to her parents, while raising their children. Greenfield and Grand River turned out to be ground zero for the 1967 Detroit riots, however. So the families moved to the east side, eventually to Harrison Township.

Bella loved being with her family. Holidays were especially important, a time when food and company were overflowing. A great cook, Bella was known for her meatballs, stuffed artichokes and other culinary masterpieces, her family shared. Her first words to anyone entering her home were "Are you hungry?" Lucky were those who said yes.

Bella also loved her grandchildren. When her daughter Mary Anne became a single mom, Bella stepped in and became their caregiver, while Mary Anne worked.

A religious woman, Bella prayed the rosary every day. Wherever she lived, she was a member of a church parish. When she could no longer attend Mass, she worshiped via Catholic television.

Bella left this world just shy of her 92nd birthday, on August 18, 2014. She was fortunate to enjoy good health until almost the end.

Bella is survived by her loving children: Peter (Janet) Ciaramitaro and Mary Anne (Mark) Boccaccio; her eight beloved grandchildren: Sam (Amber) Ciaramitaro, Stephanie (Steve) Chapel, Alex Ciaramitaro, Jennifer (Jarrett) Dygas, Joseph (Melissa) Giambruno, Andrea Giambruno, William (Samantha) Meyer and Matthew (Tara) Meyer; and her darling nine great-grandchildren: Megan, Andrew, Sam, Isabella, Ryan, Benjamin, Max, Emma and Jacob.

Bella was predeceased by all her siblings, Catherine Lopiccola, Dominic, Nicholas and James Martines. She lost her husband, Sam, after 57 years of marriage and her three children, Joey as an infant and Grace and Gerard as adults. A fan of Big Band music, Bella has joined Sam and the two are dancing to the Lawrence Welk Orchestra once more.