Elizabeth J. "Betty" Pirone

May 22, 1923March 9, 2018

94 years young, fortified with the sacraments of Holy Mother Church, passed peacefully into eternal life on 9 March 2018 at Laclede Groves. Beloved daughter of the late Thomas Matthew Fivecoat and the late Loyola Van Rhein. She was the baby and the last survivor of their four children: Eleanor (Fivecoat) (the late Frank) Roe, Thomas Matthew (the late Edith) Fivecoat Jr. and William (Jean) Fivecoat. She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, George B. Pirone, Jr. (31 August 2015). They met on The Admiral and it was love at first sight for her. That night she told her mother “I just met the man I’m going to marry.” When she found out he worked at Pirone’s Bar & Grill at Hampton & Arsenal, (across the street from the Velvet Freeze Ice Cream Store), she would sit at the bar and stare at him. After about 10 minutes of this he informed her that “unescorted ladies are not allowed in here” and that she could come back anytime but she must have an escort. And that’s exactly what she did. All of her dates ended up at Pirone’s. Time passed and they went on dates and met each other’s families and friends. Things were moving along but not fast enough for her. She decided to test the waters with a beautiful handmade Valentine “quiz” for him: “If for me your love is true, send me back this bow of blue.”; “If for me there is no hope, send me back this piece of rope.”; and finally “If you want me for your wife, send me back this bow of white.” The white bow was returned, and the rest, as they say, is history. She got her engagement ring during a party at the Chase Hotel. That night’s featured performer was the famous comedian, Billy De Wolfe. They were married by Monsignor Lupo on Sunday 1 February 1948 at St. Ambrose Church.

If she had a theme song, it would have been “Look on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, look on the sunny side of life.” Always seeing the positive and never the negative made her a joy to be around. Being a child of The Great Depression, she embodied the idea “Use It Up, Wear it out, Make do or do Without.” She saved everything: plastic bags, pill bottles, even the elastic waist bands from my father’s tighty whities. Don’t laugh. They are great for tying up tomato plants. She was a stay-at-home mom for my sister and I until Dad asked her to help out at the tavern “for just a few weeks” until he could hire someone. A few weeks became 30+ years as she cleaned, cooked and even tended bar. She always said that she was perfect for the job because she had “a strong back and a weak mind.” She loved going to the casino, sometimes with her church group and sometimes with her two friends from “The Block”: Florence Re and Wilma Puricelli. She played the nickle slots until her $30 stake was gone but more often than not she came home a little bit ahead She had a soft spot in her heart for “The Elderly”—even though they were often only a few years older than she was. After she retired she would often take anyone who needed a ride to church or to the doctor. Winter was especially fun for her because she could suit up in her snow shoveling outfit, rev up the snow blower and clean one whole side of the street. She never wanted to come in! She loved cutting the grass even more and was very sad when we made her give up one of her greatest pleasures. She was a parishioner of St. Ambrose Church for 70 years and belonged to the Christian Mothers, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society, Catholic Daughters, Hill 2000 and the St. Ambrose Senior Citizens. One of her special projects involved helping decorate the Corpus Christi altar at Marconi and Botanical. She maintained and stored the beautiful, incredibly fragile cut work altar cloths. She loved to dress up for the Senior Citizens monthly meetings. Her hat collection was famous: the turkey-in-the-pan-hat, her many Santa hats, wiggly shamrocks, and fluffy bunny ears. There was a hat for every occasion. She also loved to dress up. Her favorites were her jazzy clown suit with the fright wig, big red nose and giant floppy shoes and her pirate outfit complete with hat, moustache and sword. But her best one was her witches costume. The big black pointed hat, gnarled walking stick and the huge wart that perched on the tip of her sickly green nose sent my Father over the edge. He said he never wanted to see her dressed like that again. And she made sure he never did by getting in costume after she left the house and changing before she came home. She was also adept at sewing all of Patty’s and my clothes all through grade school. She also crocheted blankets, made quilts, stuffed Italian rabbits, sewed Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls, and created many beautiful macramé projects. Her pineapple upside down cakes were the highlight of many a bake sale. Her hair was long, dark brown and very thick. During WWII the Army Air Corps asked ladies to send their hair for use in bomb sights. Her hair was rejected because it was so thick it obscured the sight. For many years she wore her hair in a tall bun. It really was an eye-catcher. People would stop and stare, it was that beautiful. When Mom, Patty and I visited Disney World we were not allowed to go on the Space Mountain ride because the attendant was afraid her hair would come apart and the hairpins would fly out. We had to walk down the back way and, between you and me, I’m glad we got to skip it. She loved doing “The Jumble” every morning, watching Tom Selleck in “Blue Bloods” and Steve Harvey on “Family Feud.” “Cash Cab”, “The Chase” and “Chain Reaction” were her favorite game shows and she knew many, many answers.

Surviving are two daughters: Mary Ann Pirone and Patty (Michael) Opfer (nee Pirone); Grandaughter Abigail (Kyle) Gally (nee Opfer); nieces Mary Margaret (Jim) Sertl (nee Roe), Debbie (Ken) Lever (nee Pirone), Donna (Dave) Cooper (nee Pirone); sisters-in-law Jean (the late William Fivecoat) Crawley, Judy (the late Richard) Pirone (nee Rice); cousins Eleanor Oldani and Rickie Oldani; other family members and many, many friends. The family would like to thank the following: Dr. Brett Foesterling and his staff for all their care and kindness to Mother; Dr. Kulikowski and the great staff at St. Mary’s Hospital who took care of her during her last two bouts of pneumonia; Dr. Abbott, the staff of Laclede Groves and SSM Hospice who helped her and our family as she transitioned from this world to the next. .

Services: She had always wanted to donate her body to science, hoping that “maybe they could find something that would help others.” Unfortunately, this was not possible due to a medical condition. She was cremated and buried with our beloved father at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. A memorial mass will be celebrated on 19 May 2018 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Ambrose Church, 5130 Wilson Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110. In lieu of flowers, masses are preferred. Donations can also be made to The Sick and Elderly Program of The Hill, 2315 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110.


  • The Sick and Elderly Program of The Hill


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Elizabeth J. "Betty" Pirone

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