YOUNGSTOWN — Yolanda “Yola” Ricci, 100, passed away Thursday afternoon, Sept. 15, 2022, at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, surrounded by her loving family.
Yola was born April 5, 1922, to Pietro “Pete” and Adelina Mariani, in Castelverrino, Italy.The family immigrated to America in 1936 and eventually took up residence in Oak Park in Youngstown’s Smokey Hollow neighborhood. A few houses down the road lived the man who would eventually become her husband. On Nov.15, 1947, she married the love of her life, James J. Ricci Sr. and they celebrated 46 wonderful years of wedded bliss until Jim passed away in 1994.
Yola worked for 10 years at Park Vista Retirement Home in the dietary department until her retirement in 1987.
Yola’s house served as an epicenter for family gatherings and parties. The long family table spanned the length of the basement for holidays, as endless plates of pastas and meats lined the top, and the scent of Sunday sauce wafted through the air. The food was always homemade; there was always enough to feed more than double the number of people present, and endless cries of “eat, eat!” could be heard throughout the house. But if you dared to sneak a bite before dinner was ready, like any good Italian mother, she knew how to wield the world’s most dangerous weapon, a wooden spoon.
As she aged, Mrs. Ricci maintained a rigorous phone call schedule, with specific times she would place or receive calls from various family members. Each morning she would take up residence in her wooden chair, strategically placed under the wall-mounted phone, to complete her daily ritual. Even as her hearing declined over the years, she never missed a call.
The simple things made Yola happy — a new picture of a grandchild to adorn her fridge, a plain Wendy’s hamburger, or winning a game of Scopa or Briscola. She never complained, except perhaps about the groundhog that briefly took up residence in her backyard. Her husband may have jokingly called her “Shorty,” but her favorite name was “Grandma.”
Yola took immense pride in her grandchildren, always keeping their favorite items well stocked in case they came for a visit. She never lacked a bottle of Snapple, can of soda or bag of homemade goodies, and delighted when they walked through the door.
She is survived by her son, Nick (Judy) Ricci of Pittsburgh; her daughter, Diane (Tim) Garthwaite of Youngstown; her six grandchildren; as well as her sister, Rena Ripple; and extended family and friends. She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.
Besides her parents and husband, she was also preceded in death by her son, James J. Ricci Jr.
Calling hours for Yola will be held from 1 to 1:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica, 343 Via Mount Carmel, Youngstown, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 2 p.m. Yola will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband, Jim, in Calvary Cemetery on Youngstown’s west side.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Rossi Brothers And Lellio Funeral Home in Youngstown. Visit www.rossifunerals.com to view and share this obituary and to send condolences to Yola’s family.