Wednesday, June 29, 2011


IVANO SAYS: The above photo (mostly Furlans) was taken on the Del Piero Ranch in Watsonville, circa 1948 at Rita's sister's (Aurora) wedding. Unfortunatly, Rita does not appear in the photo, however, members of the Del Piero and Comelli famlies do.


Rita was the daughter of Timo and Caterina Del Piero who were very close family friends to my parents Valentina and Gervasio (Bronco) Comelli. The Del Piero's who were originally from Nimis, Udine Italy (same birth place as my parents)owned and Apple Orchard in Watsonville near Pinto Lake. Timo originally began his farming career on the North Coast of Santa Cruz, CA ('su per la costa'). ADDIO RITA - UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN - ACROSS 'IL ULTIMO PONTE'.


With profound loss, we share with you the passing of Rita Del Piero Stringari. Rita was a passionate advocate for literacy and the language arts. For over sixty years she was a beloved teacher who inspired and enriched generations of families in the Pajaro Valley. Rita's childhood experience as an immigrant struggling with two languages gave her a personal perspective and a deep concern for the bilingual children she taught. She believed in the potential for success in every child and felt that learning to read and write well was the basis for achieving that success. Rita's passion for books and her dedication to the children of this Valley have had a lasting effect on the community.

Rita was born in the village of Nimis, Udine, in northeastern Italy, the first child of Caterina Comelli and Timoleone Del Piero. In 1921, still in her mother's arms, she immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. She traveled by land across country to join her father, Timo, in Davenport, CA where he had settled the previous year. In time, her sister, Aurora, and brother, Richard, were born and the family moved to Castroville and then to Moss Landing and Watsonville where they farmed coastal acreage.

Rita attended Moss Landing School, Monterey High School and Hartnell College. In 1942 she graduated with an elementary teaching credential from San Jose State University and married Lawrence S. Stringari, a graduate of the University of Santa Clara, and a resident of Colorado. After the war ended, they moved with their children, Lorita and Tim, to Watsonville to be near family.

In the late 1940's, Rita began as a teacher at Moss Landing School and Pajaro Union Elementary School. She taught the primary grades and art [for all levels] until she retired in 1985. Following retirement, Rita continued to teach as a "preferred' substitute in part time and long term assignments and as a volunteer at T.S. McQuiddy School until 2008.

In 1976 Rita and a small group of professional educators founded the Asilomar Regional Reading Conference [ARRC] for the Santa Cruz, Monterey, and surrounding counties. The conference annually invited vendors and authors of children's literature to provide educators from local counties a weekend of ideas and speakers on language arts teaching materials. She continuously served on the board and as the Coordinator for Vendors through the final conference held in 2009.

The T.S. McQuiddy Elementary School teachers and parents honored Rita by naming the school library in her honor in 2006. Rita was appointed to the Watsonville City Council Library Board of Trustees and served as Board President the year that the newly constructed Watsonville Library was dedicated. She was a member of the Santa Cruz County Reading Association for almost forty years, served as President for two years, received the Gold Medal honor as Member of the Year. She was honored again in 2010 for her years of service.

Other organizations in which Rita was a long term active member include American Association of University Women, Y.L.I, Watsonville Women's Club, International Reading Association, California Reading Association, Pajaro Valley Arts Council, Delta Kappa Gamma.

Rita Del Piero Stringari is survived with loving memories by her family: Lorita Winfield [daughter] of Scottsdale, Az; Tim [son] and Kay Stringari of Truckee; Aurora [sister] and Clyde Mitchell of San Mateo; Richard [brother] Del Piero of Watsonville. She will be dearly missed by her nieces and nephews and their families: Kathy and Michael Ladra, Dr. Matthew Ladra, Jeff Ladra, Michael Mitchell, Marc and Tina Del Piero, Paul Del Piero, John Del Piero, Dr. Eric and Teresa Del Piero, Kris Del Piero. She has the love of her Winfield step grandchildren and step great grandchildren, the Virgil and Barbara Stringari Family, the Ileene Ericson Family and Rita's Italian cousins, the Comellis and Del Pieros of Nimis, Italy.A Memorial Mass will be held at Our Lady Help of Christians Church [The Valley Church] 2401 East Lake Avenue, Watsonville, California, 95076 on Saturday, July 9, 2011, at 2:15 pm. A reception will follow at the Church Community Hall for Rita's family, friends and former students. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Rita's memory to: The Cabrillo College Foundation, [memo: The AAUW Watsonville Branch Endowed Scholarship Fund] 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos CA 95003; Hospice of Santa Cruz County, 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066; or to the Watsonville City Library.

Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on June 29, 2011