When Lucy Fiandaca walked in to the Winthrop Marketplace to do her shopping, this elegant lady from East Boston lit up the whole store with her kindness, her warmth, and her optimism.
“She was the most positive person I’ve ever met,” said owner Marc Wallerce. “She was a wonderful, wonderful lady who got to know all my staff, and they loved her. She brightened everybody’s day.”
From her shopping trips to Winthrop, to her work at the Dante Alighieri School in East Boston, to her baking and cooking at the family home where she and her husband, Joe, raised a beautiful, successful family of five daughters and two sons, Mrs. Fiandaca was a woman of many talents.
But what Mrs. Fiandaca did best was immeasurable, and greatly appreciated by all who had the honor of her company: She made people feel good about themselves and left them with a positive, uplifting experience every time.
Mrs. Fiandaca, a lifelong East Boston resident, died on July 2 at her home following an illness. She was 94.
East Boston residents, along with her many friends and neighbors at the Jack Satter House in Revere, where she lived for the past three years in what represented a new beginning for her, paid tribute this week to Mrs. Fiandaca at memorial observances. She had quickly become part of the Satter House community who welcomed her giving personality. Back in her Eastie neighborhood in which she took great pride, some lovingly called Mrs. Fiandaca the “First Lady of East Boston.”
Rita Sorrento, chair of the board at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and former principal at the Dante Alighieri School, said the entire staff appreciated Mrs. Fiandaca’s daily efforts at the school where she would greet students, teachers, and parents upon their arrival.
“We worked together at the Alighieri School on Gove Street, and she would be the first person everyone would meet at the door,’ said Sorrento. “She was the perfect person for that position. She was professional, caring, and very kind, especially to the students. She had a winning way with the students and often brought them clothes, toys, and whatever she felt they needed. And she did it without any fanfare. She did it out of the goodness in her heart. She often brought us freshly baked cookies and donuts and I still to this day use her recipes.”
Joseph Faretra, clerk magistrate of the East Boston District Court, had the opportunity to get to know and admire Mrs. Fiandaca when her husband, Joe, began working at the court and later became a first assistant clerk magistrate.
“She was an old-fashioned mom who loved cooking and baking and spent a lot of time with her family,” said Faretra. “When she met you, she met you with a smile and a kind word. She was a very sincere, delightful person to be around. She brought up five daughters and two sons and as it turned out, they were a very successful family and well regarded for their public service. A lot can be said about the impact that their mother had on their careers. She was very humble.”
Faretra recalled when Joe and Lucy Fiandaca’s son, Kenneth, was appointed a judge in the Massachusetts judicial system, he called Mr. Fiandaca on the telephone and left a message congratulating him on his son’s achievement.
“I said, ‘I can just see your father, so, so proud of you for becoming a judge – he would have been delighted to be here to see you reach this prestigious position in your career,” said Faretra.
Faretra said he and his colleagues were often the beneficiaries of Mrs. Fiandaca’s finely tuned baking skills.
“Every Christmas, without fail, she brought a box of her delicious cookies to the courthouse,” recalled Faretra. “And she brought me another box to take home for Christmas Eve. She was so generous. She kept that tradition and that connection going forever.”
Cheryl Fiandaca, a highly respected Boston television reporter held in high regard by her peers, said her mother was “an amazing woman.”
“My mother was incredible. We were very, very lucky – we won the parent lottery. We had two wonderful parents,” said Cheryl. “She was just a wonderful woman who was incredibly selfless and wanted a big family and had a house that was filled with love and laughter and friends. Anybody was welcomed at any time.”
Gina Fiandaca, transportation commissioner for the City of Boston, like her sisters and brothers, symbolized the family’s commitment to public service and the importance of education.
“My mother imparted in us public service and service in general I would say,’ said Gina. “She instilled in us a sense of being the best you could be. My mother had the ability to make everybody feel special. She stressed how important it is to make connections to people. It’s so important to listen and empathize and she never lost that. Even in her final days, she would talk about how important it was for us to always take care of each other and that’s what she wanted most, that we would always be there for each other and isn’t that what life is really all about.”
Gina recalled the many, happy gatherings around the holidays at their home in Orient Heights.
“Those celebrations were legendary,” said Gina. “It wasn’t just the immediate family and the siblings, the grandchildren, and cousins. Whoever happened to be in town, whether it was one of colleagues who couldn’t get home, they were part of the family. Nobody was left out.”
Gina Fiandaca added that she and her siblings “were really lucky with two greats parents, and hopefully we do them proud.”