89, Prince Frederick, Maryland
Born: 04/13/1923, Died: 06/26/2012
On June 26, 2012, Ermenegilda (Nini), Dreossi-Shapira, wife of the late (Col.) Norman I Shapira. Born in Attimis, an alpine village in the Friuli Region of NE Italy. In 1917, six years before her birth, 11,000 soldiers were killed less than 18 miles from her home, in Caporetto, a town Hemingway made famous in his novel A Farewell to Arms. This was akin to being born in Emmitsburg, Md., just south of Gettysburg. In other words war and the military would etch the arc of her long life.
She survived Allied bombing raids on Turin, SS officers who tried bribing a starving girl with chocolate bars to disclose the location of her Partisan brother Cian and suffering the loss of 2 brothers and a sister who perished during the war. At just 23 years old, she saw her Partisan brother ultimately decorated for his loyalty and her older sister survive and prosper.
Two years after the war, in 1947, at the age of 24, she met and married an American soldier; our father, Col, Norman I. Shapira. Jewish by birth and although an entire Nazi campaign of discrimination and murder had distorted perception during those tumultuous years, she never gave his religion a second thought. Her tremendous spirit brought her to the United States where she raised ten children, nurtured 12 grandchildren and 7 great grand-children. She was proud to be an American Citizen, taking her new country to heart.
On the outside an Italian beauty, those that came to know her well understood that her beauty rested in her heart. They understood the meaning of friendship as they felt the warmth of her trust and company. Others, well, she could be gracious or quite deliberate. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf: Women have served centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic power of reflecting men at twice their normal size. Nini did this to everyone. She had strength of will that sustained her throughout her lifetime, and the courage to undertake the improbable direction of her life. But most of all, she was unconditionally steadfast in her devotion to her family.
Loving mother of Frank, Carla, Albert, Lee, V.Charles, E.Susan, Frederick, David, Paula, their families, and preceded by her son Donald (1956-2009).