Mary Louise Cona
February 6, 1927 – June 6, 2021
Our loss was Heaven’s gain. Mary Louise (Cirabisi) Cona, 94, passed peacefully at the Kansas City Hospice House on Sunday, June 6th, Two Thousand Twenty One surrounded by her family.
Mary was a first-generation American born on February 6th, 1927 to Sicilian immigrants, Mariano and Anna (Mulé) Cirabisi, in the neighborhood known as “Little Italy” of Kansas City, Missouri. Mary overcame very serious childhood illnesses, surviving Typhoid Fever at age 10 and Tuberculosis at the age of 14 where she spent 3 years at the Leeds Sanatorium being cured of the disease. She went on to lead a vibrant life.
She graduated from Manuel High School/Vocational Academy. One of the few Italian-American women from “Little Italy” to further her education, she earned a four-year degree from the Kansas City Art Institute in Fashion Design and Illustration. Upon graduation, she began her professional career designing dresses for the upscale store, Jessie’s on the Plaza and opened her own bridal shop designing custom-made clothing called “To-Maria” which means Mary’s Design. Mary’s lifelong love of designing fashion and of creating an impressive doll collection led her to be affectionately known as “The Doll Lady”.
Mary took many trips to Italy and Sicily in search of extended family she never knew. She was very proud of her heritage and enjoyed promoting the contributions made by all Italian immigrants that came to America in search of a better life.
Although Mary experienced prejudice in her own life, as a devout Christian, she was one of the first to help organize the Kansas City Ethnic Festival, a collaborative effort among many ethnic groups to bring understanding and appreciation between people of different backgrounds. The festival has continued over 40 years and has grown to include more than 50 ethnicities. This is one of Mary’s greatest legacies to the community, drawing thousands of attendants each year.
Mary’s philanthropy did not stop there. With her vast collection of vintage clothing, she had hosted dozens of fashion shows and raised money for children’s homes, breast cancer research, and church restorations.
Mary has always had a pet as a companion. Therefore, in her endeavor to help homeless animals, donated many of her original artworks to raise money for no-kill pet shelters.
Mary’s final achievement, “Destino: From Italy to Kansas City”, written by Mary (Cirabisi) Cona with Becky Brinkley, was published just before she passed. The book chronicles the history of her family in Sicily, Italy and in America, remembering the struggles they encountered, the prejudices that they faced, and their accomplishments.
Mary was known for her warmth, profound generosity and thoughtfulness, her practical intelligence and deep wisdom – a devoted and beloved mother, grandmother, sister-in-law and friend; a mentor, inspiration and constant model of grace, and cheerful kindness to all who knew her.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Mariano and Anna Cirabisi, her brother Francesco and her husband, Carl Cona. She is survived by her daughter JoAnna (Ron) Cooper, daughter, Carla Cona, son, Mark Cona (Desiree Morgan), granddaughter, Abigail Cona, her sisters-in-law, Fana (Ken) Vogelbaugh, Margaret Reese and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Visitation is to be held Friday, June 18th, 5 to 9 p.m. at McGilley State Line Chapel, 12301 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO 64145.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, June 19th, 2:00 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, 16808 Holmes Road, Belton, MO 64012. The service will be streamed live.
Burial following service at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 7601 Blue Ridge Blvd., Raytown, MO 64138.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Do Good Co., 413 East 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108 (a 501c3, nonprofit resale store with all proceeds going to children and no-kill animal shelters), and/or to Kansas City Hospice House, 12000 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64145.
- JoAnna Cooper (Ron), Daughter
- Carla Cona, Daughter
- Mark Cona (Desiree Morgan), Son
- Abigail Cona, Granddaughter
- Fana Vogelbaugh (Ken), Sister-in-Law
- Margaret Reese, Sister-in-Law
- Carl Cona, Husband (deceased)
- Mariano Cirabisi, Father (deceased)
- Anna [Mulé] Cirabisi, Mother (deceased)
- Francesco Cirabisi, Brother (deceased)
- Tom Cona
- Rob Vogelbaugh
- Mark Molle
- Dan Greathouse
- Sergei Shapoval
- J.C. Ganote
- Angelo Bellassai, Honorary
- Serge Bellassai, Honorary
- Jeff Frey, Honorary
- Aram Salih, Honorary
- Ron Cooper, Honorary
- Mark Cona, Honorary
Do Good Co.
413 East 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108
Kansas City Hospice House
12000 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64145
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
McGilley State Line Chapel
Celebration of Life
St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church
Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Mary Louise Cona
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
June 15, 2021
We are deeply saddened by your loss. Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Harry and Linda DeFeo
June 14, 2021
To the Cona Family: My condolences to you. I pray for peace and strength during these difficult times. Sam and Chareda White.
June 12, 2021
Dear Cona Family,
I was sorry to hear about your Mom's death. She was a perfect example of beauty, grace, generosity and talent; plus she was a very nice lady. I'm so thankful to have known her.
Please know that she and all of her family are in my thoughts and prayers.
June 10, 2021
Mary, my sister-in-law was a beautiful talented woman who touched the lives of many people. She overcame many obstacles in her life and will always be an inspiration to me . I will miss her dearly . Prayers, love and sympathy to Joanna, Carla and Mark. A wonderful mother who will always be remembered in my daily prayers, Love, Aunt Fana
June 9, 2021
June 9, 2021
to the cona family i want to express my sadnes of the loss of your mom she was a very wonderful lady she will be miss but she is in a better place now again iknow of your sorrow and i will keep you in my thoughts and prayers