Maria S. Patti
March 24, 1932 – January 8, 2020
Maria Patti, 87, of Pensacola, peacefully passed from this life on January 8, 2020. Maria Patti Vann (Vicenza Maria Santa Patti) born in March 1932 was the oldest daughter of Joe Patti Seafood founders, Joe and Anna Patti. She is preceded in death by her parents, Joe and Anna Patti, brothers Sam and Joey, and sister Josie.
An accomplished pianist and singer at a young age, Maria embodied a strong love of country and our military. She joined the U.S. Army’s Women’s Army Corps and was stationed in Germany where, among her other duties, she travelled across Germany, performing as the “lovely southern songstress” with the Green Mountain Rangers. Upon leaving the Army, Maria thought of becoming a nun and briefly entered the Benedictine Catholic Convent in Cullman, Ala. Although she loved her time at Cullman, she so missed the excitement of performing that she decided to embark on a professional singing career. While performing at the Trophy Club in Saint Simon’s Island, Georgia, she met and married James Linwood Vann of Waycross, Georgia. The couple decided to raise a family and chose to settle in Maria’s hometown of Pensacola.
Back home in Pensacola, Maria was the Chapel Choir Director at Corry Station and was eventually asked to teach at her children’s elementary school. She would later remark that the classroom was the perfect stage to entertain while doing what she would learn to love the most – teaching. Teaching would become her life’s passion. She began teaching full time at Saint Benedict’s in Elberta, Alabama, and later at Saint Thomas More, St. Stephen’s, Saint Michael’s, Saint John’s, and Pensacola Catholic High. Always looking for new challenges, she decided to run for political office for the State Legislature in the 1984. With humor, she would often comment that the best thing that happened to her was not getting elected. After the campaign, she decided to again pursue teaching, this time with the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Germany. Maria returned to Pensacola to be close to her mother Anna and family and entered the Escambia County elementary school system, teaching at Allie Yniestra Elementary until retiring.
Maria, just like her parents and brothers and sisters, never took retirement seriously. As a veteran, she was a staunch supporter of our men and women in uniform and was a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Her strong sense of service led her to volunteer at Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum where she guided the Flight Deck Adventure tours for many years. She would remark that, along with thrill of teaching, it was the camaraderie with her friends and colleagues and their sense of service that motivated her the most.
Maria is survived by her brothers Frank and Gerard Patti, and her four children and their spouses, James and Carla Jabre Vann, Joseph and Pascale Dupuydupin Vann, Michael Vann, and Patricia and Brad Imel; grandsons Alexandre, Christopher, Andrew, and Michael Vann, granddaughter Kaitlin Vann Purvis and Christopher Purvis; and more than twenty beloved nieces and nephews.
Maria was a vivacious, beautiful, loving and talented woman. Those who knew her appreciated her grace, and elegance. She was rightfully a feminist before her time, but she would characterize her convictions as, “One should be judged on what they contribute to the greater good—not by the vehicle they were gifted to deliver it.” Maria lived an extraordinary life. From musician to a scuba diver, from military service to teacher, her talents, and passion for adventure and knowledge were endless. She had a lust for life and lived her life very deliberately. She will be missed by all who knew her. _________________
A memorial service is planned at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 3295 Barrancas Ave, Pensacola, Thursday 10:00AM, with a reception following at Heritage Hall, Seville Quarter. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting any donations be sent to Benedictine Sisters, Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL (www.shmon.org) or the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation (www.vfw.org).
- Memorial Service Thursday, January 16, 2020
- Reception Thursday, January 16, 2020
Maria S. Patti
January 15, 2020
I am a member of the Twin Oaks Wives Club & that is where I met Maria! She was always so friendly & outgoing! Loved hearing all her stories of her travels & adventures! She always greeted all of us with lots of hugs & loving compliments! She will be truly missed by me & all our members!
Michelle (Cecil) Warren
January 13, 2020
I was in Mrs. Vann's first class at St. Benedict's and can vividly remember the laughter and enthusiasm she brought to teaching. With her we learned through songs that she devised for everything from math to history; I think we sang through the entire year! She was a dynamic person and made a lasting memory.