Frances T Di Salvo
February 12, 1919 – June 2, 2019
Frances Theresa Di Salvo February 12, 1919-June 2, 2019
This is a beautiful American immigration story. The story continues…
Vincente Giuffre’ and Josephina Viso, the parents of Frances, emigrated from Sicily. They faithfully boarded ships to America for a better life about 1914. They met and married in New York and began a family.
Frances was born in Albany, New York on February 12, 1919. At age 3 her parents boarded a train bound for California with Frances and her older sister Margaret in toe. Their destination was The Valley of Hearts Delight, San Jose, California. They had learned that San Jose’s weather and topography was similar to Sicily with boundless opportunities for a prosperous and healthy life.
While Frances was attending Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose she was working after school at her father’s shoe cobbler shop on E. Santa Clara St. One afternoon she was behind the counter at her dad’s shop when her future husband (Louis Albert Di Salvo) came in to sell imported Italian leather. The rest is our family’s living history.
Frances and Louis (1915-2006) were married 70 years and raised four sons: Richard (1937-1995), Jerry, Jim, and Joseph. During the Great Depression they barely had enough money to put food on the family table and pay the hospital bill for the birth of their son. Eventually by working hard together they saved enough to afford to purchase a two-bedroom and 1 bath home near downtown San Jose. They raised their four sons in that house on the corner of Balbach and Vine Streets. In 1962 they moved to their dream ranch style house in western Willow Glen.
Louis graduated Bellarmine in1933 and with Frances worked tirelessly to put their sons through the college preparatory school. Together, their values of integrity, generosity, compassion and hard work helped them build a thriving real estate business, Fortune Realty on Willow Street by Sacred Heart Church and another by the then new San Jose City Hall, built in 1958, on No. First Streets.
During the 1960’s through the 1990’s they bought and sold several investment properties. As landlords they rented to others, always keeping the rent considerably below market rates. They remembered their personal struggles to make ends meet in life and never, never wanted to take advantage of another person. These life’s lessons were passed down to their children and 10 grandchildren every opportunity they had to model them.
Frances was the first feminist her children knew, always holding the family business together while seated at the front desk, acting as the CFO, keeping track of all financial records on handwritten ledgers. Frances typed all business correspondence on Royal & IBM Selectric typewriters and eventually on floppy disks with the first MacIntosh computer that still sits on her desk today. Frances was always dressed in stylish clothes while wearing high heels and nylons. She advocated for equal pay for women to men doing the same jobs. She drove to her office and worked daily in that First Street Office until she was 96.
In her domestic role Frances planned Sunday family dinners while making a slow-cooked pot of sugo and delicious meatballs. One or two Sundays a month she invited her sisters and brothers over with their children for a formal dinner and friendly family poker game where her mother, Josephina, had a seat with the men at the table.
Her Christmas dinners with children and grandchildren were sit down Italian feasts served with her silver and china while a crackling wood-fire burned in the family room. These dinners from 1962 were cooked at their new family home where Frances lived 57 years until recently events led to her needing more professional care. The family wishes to thank our mom’s care providers during these last few years. Many cared for her with respect, love and affection. Frances will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. She now leaves her mortal “tent” behind to join in a spiritual reunion with her family and friends.
Frances was the quintessential generous Italian grandmother to her 6 grandsons: David, John, Todd, Robert, Shawn and Zachary Di Salvo and 4 granddaughters Theresa Segarini, Danielle Di Salvo, Jennifer Pascual and Gabriella Collins. Frances was a loving mother-in-law to Barbara, Phyllis (1939-2010), Janell and Christine Di Salvo. Frances is survived by her youngest sister, Mary Ann Carlstroem, 18 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson.
A celebration of life and Catholic mass will be convened in her honor at Leontyne Chapel on the Bellarmine College Preparatory Campus on 960 West Hedding St. San Jose, CA 95126 at 11:30 A.M. Father Jerry Wade S.J. will preside and Father Paolo Gobbo will be concelebrant.
In lieu of flowers please send a donation in Frances T. Di Salvo’s honor to the Bellarmine College Preparatory BUILD (Bellarmine United in Learning and Diversity) Program that serves low-income middle school students in Silicon Valley.