November 2, 1955 – December 1, 2018
Lois A. Mazzitelli, 63, of Manhattan, a retired urban designer and native Staten Islander, died Saturday at N.Y. Presbyterian Cornell-Weill Medical Center, Manhattan, after a long and courageous battle.
Ms. Mazzitelli, whose maternal and paternal grandparents settled in the borough nearly 100 years ago, was born in New Brighton and raised in West Brighton, the first-born daughter of Evelyn and Louis. After graduating from St. Joseph Hill Academy in Arrochar, she received a Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning at City College. She was employed as a planner by the Department of City Planning, charged with negotiating construction projects in lower Manhattan. Her role in the complicated design and approval process involved meetings and hearings with entities that were often combative: community boards, civic associations, residents, municipal agencies, neighborhood businesses and religious interests, architects, planners, contractors, banks, and developers. In 1986, she joined Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, long considered one the of the country’s premier architectural firms. She was with SOM for nearly 20 years, having attained the position of Associate Director and Senior Urban Designer.
Her kidneys failed in 1995 and afterwards, she survived on dialysis, administered three or four times weekly, for 23 years.
Even after she had stopped reporting to her office, colleagues sought her input. A cousin recalled visiting her in 2005 during one of many hospitalizations to find her poring over plans for a new World Trade Center. Blueprints and drawings were spread out over her hospital bed.
A committed Manhattanite, she lived in Hell’s Kitchen long before it re-gentrified. She bought an apartment on the Upper West Side 25 years ago. Few of the advantages of city living eluded her. She caught 20 plays every season and had a New York City Ballet subscription for many years (orchestra, slightly left of center).
She liked restaurants and shopping. About her fierce affection for jewelry, she conceded: “I am a woman who is addicted to jewelry.” It may have helped her mitigate challenges that would have been fatally disheartening otherwise. For a hospital stay, she might have a serious 18K Florentine bangle on one wrist and a cheery, less expensive charm bracelet on the other. In the early 1990s, a close friend ill with HIV/AIDS was virtually abandoned by his family. She took care of him until he died. She was a resolute Roman Catholic. When she couldn’t make her way to Mass at Holy Trinity Church, the late Monsignor Thomas Leonard faithfully brought Communion to her at home.
As a young woman, she travelled as often as her work allowed, almost always to places of architectural significance. Even after her health constrained her, she managed to get out of town as long as dialysis was available nearby.
Just last month, for an obituary of longtime iconoclast architect/builder Charlie Azzue, she recalled knocking on the door of his aggressively modern house – the family home at the time -- on Todt Hill. As a 20-yearold architecture undergrad, she was irresistibly curious about his mindset. He recognized her enthusiasm and invited her in. It was an important face-to-face. “I learned two lessons that day,” she said: “One about architecture and one about the importance of sharing one’s knowledge and educating the next generation coming up.”
Ms. Mazzitelli was predeceased by her beloved father, Louis, who died suddenly in 1987. She is survived by her beloved mother and friend, Evelyn Fressola Mazzitelli, her loving and devoted sister, Eva Lynn M. Hayko, her brother-in-law, John, a niece Emily Rose, and a nephew, Benjamin Louis, both of whom she adored and of whom she was so proud, Godparents Louise Sucillon and Michael Fressola, dear aunts, uncles and cousins, countless dedicated and loving friends, and her loyal and cherished Schnauzer companion Ecco-Lo.
Her family wishes to thank the nurses at the dialysis unit at NYPH and her nephrology team of doctors, physicians assistants, and social workers. Special love and thanks to our dear Quindrella Woods who became Lois’ caretaker and protector, and a member of our family.
Calling hours will be at Casey Funeral Home at 350 Slosson Ave., Staten Island from 4 to 8 PM on Tuesday December 4. A Mass of the Resurrection will be held Wednesday December 5 at St.Charles Church, 200 Penn Ave., Staten Island.
A memorial service in Manhattan will follow in the coming months.
Donations may be made to St.Jude’s Children’s Hospital, an animal rescue organization of your choice, or the Dialysis Center at NYPH.
- Visitation Tuesday, December 4, 2018
- Mass Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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December 4, 2018
Her mentoring, but more importantly her love remains borderless. A woman who's physical pain could never bend her contagious joy. Saddened from Belize, but ever grateful to have known you, Lois.
Lance Jay Brown
December 4, 2018
I met Lois when she was still a teenager. She was a Staten Is. CC student who articulated at the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at CCNY. It was then located in a garage on Broadway and 133 St. She traveled far to get there. And she went far after receiving two degrees there. She was my student in the Thesis studio, a year long close encounter. She was terrific. We stayed in touch ever since. I have witnessed her heroics as a professional with NYC and SOM and, moreover, as a unique and brave individual. I have always held her in highest regard. I never saw enough of her. I am saddened by her passing and grateful for having known her. I am among those who loved her. My deepest condolences to her friends and family.
Lance Jay Brown
December 3, 2018
I had the pleasure of working with Lois at SOM.
Sharp wit, no nonsense, great style, unforgettable.
Rest in peace dear Lois - we will miss you.
Judy and Mike Tanur
December 3, 2018
We knew Lois through her friendship with Rachel and her loving presence throughout Rachel's last illness. She was wonderful. And we were able to stay in touch over the years since Rachel's death. Our hearts go out to her family and especially to her mother -- we know how heartbreaking it is to lose a child.
Rashne and Brian Baetz
December 3, 2018
Dearest Mrs. Mazzitelli, EvaLynn and family, we are so very saddened by your loss of dearest Lois. She was a sweetheart and we trust she is at peace now. We know you will miss her more than words can say and we are holding you in our hearts. Much much love, Rashne, Brian and family.
December 3, 2018
In Remembrance of our dear Lois Mazzitelli
Lois was a force to be reckoned with! She was sharp, demanding, thorough, and experienced. She was the anchor of the Urban Design department at SOM in New York and was a conduit to getting things done there. She knew everyone and everyone knew her. Lois helped establish and maintain an environment that was tireless, inquisitive, and challenging…she was tough. On her desk was a great black and white photo of her father (I think at his desk in the Department of City Planning and like something straight out of Mad Men – his sleeves rolled up, tie loosened but not about to come off, and half-smoked cigar in hand). It was an image that inspired hard work and dedication and she lived up to it.
I sat across from Lois and it wasn’t long after I started there that she was calling me either “Buster” or “Kiddo.” We were no more than four in addition to Lois when I started and she helped build the group to more than 30 strong in just a few years. She was both the glue that held us together and the grease that kept us running smoothly.
Lois set a high bar for doing great work for the firm, and she helped us create and nurture lifelong friendships that were built on honesty, trust, respect, and above all, love. The Urban Design group at SOM between 2003 and 2010 was, and in many ways remains a family. She saw us through trip-ups and triumphs, lay-offs and relocations, marriages, and many new births as our own families have come to be…she never missed even the smallest detail. She provided what seemed like unconditional tough love as we grew up together under her wing…she was empowering, and balanced care and support with high expectations.
Lois was so strong, so smart, so dedicated, so caring, and so much fun! Like few other people I have known, I will miss her every day that I live without her.
Thank you Lois for the lessons learned, the laughter, and the shape/spice you have given to so many of our lives.