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Dilva Ferrari

Dilva Ferrari
  • February 15, 1930 - September 28, 2014
  • Sterling Heights, Michigan
  • Dilva's family suggests memorial contributions be made in her name to the McLaren Hospice. Thank you.
  • McLaren Hospice

Pause Looking Back by Bruce H. Zimmerman (ASCAP)
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Dilva Ferrari, age 84 of Sterling Heights, passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones on September 28, 2014. Dilva was a loving wife to the late Ferdinando Ferrari; dearest Mother to Mary Theresa (Dennis) DePestel, Joann (Steve) Lancucki and Luisa (Rick) Zalenski; dear Nonna to Steve (Lauren), Sarah (Ryan), Lauren, Kayla, Jenna, Noah, Jacob and Grant; beloved Bisnonna to Isabella, Hannah, Haley, Avery and Adam; cherished sister to eight siblings (two deceased) and is survived by many extended loved ones and friends.

Dilva was also preceded in death by her parents, Giovanni and Fenisia Ferrari (née Farneti).

Our mother, Dilva Ferrari, was born on February 15, 1930 in Rochetta Sundri, Commune di Sestola, Provincia di Modena, Italy to Fenisia (Farnetti) and Giovanni Ferrari. She was the oldest of nine children: Iole (Zacchi) Luigi, Natalina (Parrini), Luisa (Strappazon), Isolina( Cristoni), Liliana (Bompani), Pina (Delcarlo), and Virgilio.

Dilva spent most of her younger years working on the farm and helping care for her younger brothers and sisters. She also lived for a short time with her Aunt & Uncle (Zia Maria and Zio Augusto) at the Costello di Seravalle working in their vineyard and winery. If that wasn't enough, she also worked in the city as a seamstress where she perfected her sewing skills by tailoring suits and dresses.

In 1945, she met the man of her dreams, Ferdinando Ferrari. During their courtship, he traveled to the United States on the Ship Andrea Doria to visit with his mother and brothers with hopes and dreams in his heart. In 1954 he returned to Italy to marry our Mother on July 10th. In August of that same year he returned to the U.S. to begin preparing for Dilva's future arrival.

In April of 1955, Dilva packed all of her belongings in a big black trunk and sadly said goodbye to her parents and family. She insisted her family not follow her to Genoa since she could not bear to wave goodbye to them. However, she did share with us the saddest experience of her life was when the ship Columba pulled from the port in Genoa and she watched everyone bidding farewell to their loved ones. Words cannot express the sadness we feel when we think of her having to depart all alone far from her family not knowing how long it would be before she would be able to see them again.

The ship Columba set sail traveling eight days from Genoa to Ellis Island. She always spoke of how sick she and others were the entire trip. Regardless, she managed to establish friendships with families she tried to nurture and help on the way. She oftentimes spoke of setting her sights on "that lady", the Statue of Liberty; and how grateful she was to finally lay eyes on her as this was the sign her trip was almost complete. Processing at Ellis Island was somewhat stressful and hectic but she successfully managed to complete the necessary paperwork. She then traveled to the train station where she quickly departed for Detroit to be lovingly greeted by her new family. The stories my mother would tell describing her journey were bitter sweet. While she was excited for her new life with the love of her life, she longed for her parents, brothers, and sisters in Italy.

The early years in Detroit were somewhat of a struggle as she worked very hard to learn the English language. She spoke very often about how she would sit quietly at family and friend gatherings because it was very difficult not understanding what people were saying. It didn't take long before everyone realized what a warm, loving, and big-hearted person she was. Everyone that walked through her doors knew they were home! Not only was she the greatest homemaker, she was a great gardener and fantastic cook making Italian delicacies like gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli, tortellini, and sauce for C&F Market -- a little Italian store in the "old neighborhood" of Detroit.

She outlived so many of her family and friends and oftentimes questioned why she was still here. She longed for them and all the wonderful get-togethers she and my Dad loved to host! Almost every picture we have is one of smiling family and friends seated at long tables filled with food and wine!
There was nothing more important to our Mother than her family. Everything she did and lived for was for Dad and all of us. She truly was the "wind beneath our wings" she soared if we soared; she was happy if we were happy; and if we were sad, she would find a way to make us smile! She touched many lives as a wife, mother, nonna, bisnonna, sister, aunt and friend. She wasn't just a Nonna to her eight grandchildren; she was a Nonna to so very many. We have all been truly blessed with her spirit and love of life. When our family visited Italy we oftentimes expressed to our relatives how jealous we were of the fact they were all in Italy together. They quickly remarked the only time they would get together was when we were there to visit; a true testament of my Mom's love of family! Our Mother's infamous expression was to "always keep peace in the family". No matter how many difficulties life would present; there was nothing more important than family -- true words of wisdom coming from someone who spent most of her life so far away from her family.

We are so very blessed that we and our children have been able to benefit from her words of wisdom and learn from her life-long experiences. You have truly inspired us Mom, Nonna and Bisnonna! She frequented many, if not all, sporting events for each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren over the past 30 years; attending baseball, soccer, football, swimming, tennis, volleyball, diving, gymnastics, track and her most beloved hockey. She was the greatest Hockey Nonni ever!!! As we begin the next leg of life's