Mary Ann Gamba
October 13, 1929 – September 2, 2020
A first generation native of San Francisco, Mary passed away peacefully with her children at her home in Brentwood on September 2, 2020. Mary was born October 13, 1929 at the family home on Athens Street. Her parents, Carmelo and Angelina Cosentino, both from the Calabria region in Italy, kept a traditional Italian-American household for Mary and her three brothers: Pat (Pasquale), Louis (deceased) and Gee (Giglio). The extended family included aunts, uncles and many cousins in Gustine where Mary and her family would often visit. Mary's first language was Italian and she learned to speak English at Cleveland Elementary School. She graduated from Balboa High School (Class of Fall 1946) and started her long and varied working life at Bank Of America, where she would proudly recount that she had met the legendary founder, A.P Giannini.
Mary met the love of her life, Salvatore Gamba (deceased) literally across the street from her home at the corner grocery store. They married on April 27th, 1952 at Epiphany Catholic Church. They moved to the Westlake district of Daly City to start their family, Angela (Moreci) and Therese. After her husband passed away in 1975, Mary focused her attention on raising her daughters as a single working mother, christening the new trio as the Gamba Girls.
Mary's career path took many turns, here are a few highlights. She was the first lecturer in Northern California for Weight Watchers in the 1960's. Secretary to Burl Toler, the Principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School where they worked together to start a breakfast program for the students. An assistant at Williams Diamond Shipping Company where during her tenure, she taught herself to greet clients in several languages including Greek, French, Russian, Spanish and Japanese, feeling it was important to put people at ease by being able to say such pleasantries as hello, thank you, you're welcome and good bye.
Mary's final and favorite job was that of Executive Assistant to Charles B. Johnson, who at that time was the Chairman and CEO of Franklin Templeton. Mary worked there for over 23 years, retiring at 82, only to return weeks later to work part time for Mr. Johnson for another year before moving to Brentwood.
For several years, Mary volunteered on Saturdays at the Mills Hospital Breast Care Center believing it was important to give back after her successful recovery from Thyroid cancer. In 2016, Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease which slowed her body but not her spirit.
Mary's greatest joy were her two grandchildren, Nicholas Moreci and Lauren Moreci Collins (Kenton). She reveled in being Nannie Mary and was blessed again in 2019 when she became a great grandmother to twin girls, Camilla and Quinn Collins.
Known as Mama Gamba to her friends and family, Mary always had an open door policy at her home where you would find her singing while she was cooking. A lifelong movie lover, Mary had an encyclopedic mind for the films and stars of the Golden Age. She loved all types of music, including opera and attended the SF Opera on a regular basis. Proud of her Italian heritage, Mary was an active member of NIAF (National Italian American Foundation) and for years attended the annual gala in Washington DC. Mary was a strong woman of faith and was thrilled to be part of the Lourdes Pilgrimage with the Western Association, Order of Malta, in Spring of 1999.
Mary's interment at Holy Cross in Colma will be private. The family will be hosting a celebration of life for Mary at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in her name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research. Please visit her tribute page at https://tribute.michaeljfox.org/tribute-page.php?id=1614&np=true. The family wishes to thank all those who lovingly contributed to Mary's care including Angela's fiance Frank Hull, her caregivers Maata Laione and Carolina Moncada as well as American Hospice in Brentwood.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Mary Ann Gamba
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September 21, 2020
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Mary. I first want to give my condolences to Angela, Therese and all their families, I met Mary at Williams Dimond in 1973, I was just 20 years old. Losing my mom at the age of 17, she became very special to me over the years. So grateful to have her in my life. Unfortunately the last few years we drifted apart, , but she was always and will remain in my heart ♥️ Love, Toni Penelli Sherman