BOARDMAN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Carmela G. (Altomare) Cassese was born on June 6, 1933, at 28 Pine Street in Leetonia, the oldest child of Calabrian immigrants Mike and Theresa (Fuoco) Altomare. The eldest of four, she and her siblings established bonds that withstood both time and distance throughout their lives.

After graduating from Leetonia High School, she completed nurse’s training at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, a profession for which she displayed an endless dedication and pride.

While in nurse’s training, she met her husband, Joseph Cassese and they married on August 12, 1954, at St. Patrick’s Church in Leetonia. Together, they raised five children in their home on Rush Boulevard on the city’s south side. Carmela and Joe were married for 67 years and were lifelong parishioners of St. Dominic Parish.

After her husband took over the MVR (Mahoning Valley Restaurant) in Youngstown’s Smoky Hollow in 1960, Carmela helped lay the foundation for transforming the former pool hall into a popular family restaurant. Her sauce and recipes were the basis for many Italian favorites including eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, wedding soup and pasta fagioli.

As the family grew, Carmela by nature assumed the role of the family’s matriarch. She established their homes at Rush Blvd. and subsequently 50 Fieldstone, as the family’s weekly gathering place. Her regular Sunday dinners reflected a pride in her Italian heritage and more importantly a love for and a commitment to keeping the family together. Through Carmela’s dedication and tireless effort, four generations of extended family and friends gathered to enjoy her holiday meals on Easter Sunday and the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

Carmela was devoted to her Catholic faith and the Blessed Mother throughout her entire life. A strong advocate for Catholic education, she proudly saw all her children and grandchildren graduate from Cardinal Mooney High School. A passionate fan at any Mooney sporting event, she lived up to her son’s nickname, “The Bear,” by alternately cheering on her grandchildren, praying the rosary to the Queen of Victory, and badgering the referees.

Carmela treasured her family, speaking fondly of memories of her own maternal grandparents and great-aunt. In much the same way, she endeared herself to her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews, to whom she was known as MaMa and Aunt Mamie.

Her family will always remember how MaMa enjoyed playing her daily crossword, reading on the steps outside their Ft. Myers condo, talking on the phone, playing volleyball, cheering on any Catholic school, stashing Snickers in her nightstand and bantering with PaPa Joe. Even as her mind slipped in later years, her family delighted in MaMa’s ever-present wit and her sharp eye for cleanliness, crisply made beds, and warmly dressed children.

In addition to her husband, MaMa will be happily reunited with others that she has dearly missed, including her son, Carmine; granddaughter, Jaclyn Cassese; sister, Roseelia DiVincenzo and son-in-law, Mike Coristin.

Her memory will be cherished by her daughters, Theresa (Tony) Provenzale, Carla Coristin, Gina (Pat) Kiraly, and Lia (Bill) Stana; daughter-in-law, Patty Cassese; grandchildren, Joe, Kristin, Laura, Michelle, Michael, Frank, Dena, Carmela, Maria, Angela, Patrick, Billy and Mia; 21 great-grandchildren; brothers, Lou (Linda) and Michael (Marcy) Altomare; brother-in-law, Gene DiVincenzo; lifelong friend, Irene (Joe) Santon and numerous nieces and nephews.

Carmela’s family would like to thank Ed and Diane Reese, the entire staff of the Inn at Walker Mill, and Ohio Living Hospice agency for their compassionate care.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Wednesday, December 14 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Rossi Brothers and Lellio Funeral Home, 4442 South Avenue, Boardman.

Prayers will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 15 at the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Dominic Church, Youngstown.

She will be laid to rest in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Leetonia.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in MaMa’s memory to the Carmine L. Cassese Scholarship at Cardinal Mooney High School, 2545 Erie Street, Youngstown, OH 44507 or the Joe and Carmela Cassese Scholarship at Youngstown State University, c/o YSU Foundation, 655 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44502.

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