OBITUARY

Margherita Battaglia

December 8, 1929March 29, 2021
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Margherita was born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1929, in Aspra, commune di Bagheria, provincia di Palermo, Sicilia. The second daughter of Domenico and Margherita Balistreri, she was born in the home she shared with her Mother and her Sister Chiaramaria, as well as her maternal Grandmother, Margherita LaLicata, and her maternal Uncle, Pietro. Her Father was in America, having returned there earlier in the year unaware that another child was on the way. Margherita grew up in the company of a large Family that included not only those living in her household, but the many cousins and children of her Parents cousins who lived in this small coastal town. In time, many of these cousins would, like her, emigrate to the USA. Her childhood was a simple one, where she occupied time playing in the town’s main square and swimming in the tranquil and crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Palermo, just steps from her front door. In June 1939, together with her paternal Uncle Francesco, Aunt Giuseppina, four cousins, her Mother, and her Sister, she set sail for the port of Naples to board the Conte di Savoia Ocean Liner for its 36th trip across the Atlantic to America. The voyage provided her and her cousin Gian Batista plenty of time for exploring the various common rooms abord the ship, including a few episodes of sneaking into the First-Class areas of the ship and mingling with the members of high society. Called to the deck by an official “ships announcement”, she watched the Statue of Liberty go by as they sailed into New York Harbor, marveling as well at the tall buildings that were unlike anything she had ever imagined. After a short visit to the home of her paternal Aunt Rosalia and Uncle Giovanni Sardina in Buffalo,NY, they began the cross-country train ride to Los Angeles, where for the first time she met her Father.

Her life in San Diego began in Little Italy where the familiar names of Balistreri and Mangiapane, her immediate Family, mingled with Tarantino, Sardina, LaLicata, Brunetto, and Pecoraro, the Families of her Parents cousins, creating both a sense of unity and continuity with the home she had left in Sicily. Here she was also immersed into her new world, beginning with her enrollment at Washington Elementary School where she would quickly learn to speak English, followed by Roosevelt Junior High School and San Diego High School where she would graduate with the Class of 1948.

Like many other Sicilian Families from coastal towns, the men in the family gravitated towards the fishing industry in San Diego, where multiple tuna canneries existed at the time. Her Parents bought a home in Logan Heights, down the street from her Aunts & Uncles, and walking distance to the canneries. Although she worked at Marston’s Dept Store for a period, like her sister Clara before her and many other relatives & friends, she gravitated to the fishing industry and began working at Westgate Cannery. Her social life revolved around both her Family and her Faith. With a very large Italian population to serve, many of them fishermen Families, Our Lady of the Rosary Church was a central point for gatherings and even communication for many Families. There was hardly a month without a “festa” of some sort, and coupled with all the baptisms, weddings, and other religious celebrations, going to Church was not just a Sunday occasion. The Fall Season celebrated several Marian feast days including La Madonna del Rosario, her hometown Patron La Madonna Addolorata, La Madonna del Lume, and La Madonna del Paradiso. Most of these Festi included not only the “High Mass” on Sunday, but a Dinner-Dance on Saturday and a Procession on Sunday afternoon. The last Marian feast of the pre-Christmas season of course falling on her own birthday for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1957, at the Madonna del Lume dinner dance, Margherita began her year-long courtship with the man who would become her husband, Antonino Battaglia. Born in Porticello, less than 6km from Aspra, he had recently emigrated from Sicily to join his Parents in San Diego. One year later, on October 18th, 1958, the weekend of the Madonna del Lume Festa, they were married at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. They moved into a small cottage behind Margherita’s Parents new home on Columbia Street, where they lived until a year later, when the building of Interstate 5 split the Italian Community in half literally, displacing many Families including hers. Moving about a mile north, they again moved into a duplex above her Parents, and it was there, in January 1960, that their first child, Filippo, was born. Almost three years later in late 1962 came daughter Dorotea and their Family was complete. In 1966, they purchased their own home in the South Clairemont area above Mission Bay and so began the “American” phase of their lives. Although physically removed from the daily life of Little Italy, emotionally, spiritually, and socially, they still maintained their “weekend” connection to their now scattered friends and Family. This same year, Margherita’s Family grew yet again as her sister Clara gave birth first to Angela, then Margherita two years later. The four cousins would become closer than many siblings, creating as well a tighter than normal bond between nieces/nephew and their aunts/uncles.

As her children & nieces grew up in the 1970’s, Margherita spent many days driving all four kids to school, after-school activities, planning birthday parties & other celebrations, and during the summer months, enjoying the Family’s summer ritual of gathering on the sands of Mission Bay at Bahia Point with other Sicilian Families. There every generation of the Families gathered, from Grand Parents down to newborns, kept alive the spirit and joy of their native culture and to share it with the generation that would grow up in the “new country”.

After her Husband’s passing in 1981, Margherita returned to the work force as a school cafeteria worker, spending over a decade working at Pacific Beach Middle School until her retirement. During this time, she also joined various organizations at Our Lady of the Rosary, including the ICF, volunteering at numerous OLR events, including the OLR Spaghetti Dinner and the ICF Fish Fry. In 1993, the Family grew yet again with the birth of her only Grandchild, Catherine, then a few years later came the children of her niece Margherita, providing her with plenty of babysitting opportunities and the joy that she received, and gave, to the four members of this new generation of her Family. Settling in with her daughter and back in the Mission Hills home she lived in after marriage, she found her joy in the interactions she had with her “picciriddi”, especially on play-date Thursdays and visits to her niece’s home for dinners and other events. In the last year, her Granddaughter moved to San Diego, allowing Margherita opportunities to share time with Catherine as well, even during the Covid quarantine life we all experienced.

Her passing into Eternal Life leaves a hole in the human hearts of her Family, but the faith she passed down to each of us fills that same hole with hope founded on the promise made by the Son of God in whom Margherita had complete faith: Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (Jn 11:25). In loving remembrance, from her Family Phillip & Marylea Battaglia, Catherine Battaglia, Dorothy Battaglia, Margherita & David Cianflone, Domenico, Nicholas & Giovanni Cianflone.

Services

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021

  • Rosary Service

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Memories

Margherita Battaglia

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Patrizia Vigili

April 8, 2021

Many Blessings and Prayers so sorry for your loss Margherita, such a beautifully kind and special lady who will always be in my prayers.

Sincere Condolences for your loss.
Patrizia Vigili

Salvatore Corona

April 1, 2021

Mr. Phil sorry about your Mom. My Condolences to you and family. Sal Corona

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita's home town of Aspra, Sicily painted by her Uncle Pietro LaLicata

FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita's Father & Mother, Domenico Balistreri and Margherita LaLicata

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita at eight years old in Sicily

FROM THE FAMILY

First photo from her new home in America

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

First Communion picture with friends

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita's home town of Aspra, Sicily painted by her Uncle Pietro LaLicata

FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita's Father & Mother, Domenico Balistreri and Margherita LaLicata

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita at eight years old in Sicily

FROM THE FAMILY

First photo from her new home in America

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

First Communion picture with friends

FROM THE FAMILY

First Communion group photo at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Margherita third from the left in the back row

FROM THE FAMILY

Margherita with her Sister Clara