Maria Nigro was taken by the angels on August 16, 2021. She was one month shy of her 91st birthday. Born Mariangela Elvira Ferrari in Giubiasco, Switzerland on September 13, 1930 to Paolo and Ines (Margaritelli) Ferrari Visca.
At the age of 20, Mariangela immigrated to the United States with her 16-year-old sister Giuseppina (Joy). They departed Le Havre, France on October 26, 1950 and arrived in New York on November 1, 1950, traveling on the SS America. They were among the last wave of immigrants to come through Ellis Island. After traveling by train to California, she settled in Santa Maria and quickly found a job as an au pair in San Luis Obispo where she first learned English from her young clients.
On October 3rd 1959, she married Joseph Nigro and moved to Salinas, where they raised three sons. They were married for nearly 62 years.
Maria worked hard in the food service industry for many years and sent two of her sons to college doing so. She enjoyed meeting people in her work and had the opportunity to serve many celebrities and politicians over the years including Clark Gable, David Jansen, Tab Hunter, Red Skelton, Roy Rogers, Harry Morgan, James Caan, Tom Petty and Moshe Dayan.
Before her retirement in the 1990s Maria worked at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey as an instructor's aide teaching Italian culture, language and dialects to Federal field intelligence agents.
Above all, Maria was a supportive wife and mother of three sons. In raising her son Kim, she became a highly effective advocate for the treatment, education and rights of the developmentally disabled. She remained grateful to the Salinas Adult Literacy Program for its involvement in her son's cause.
She was also an avid gardener and lover of fine art, photography and music—especially opera.
Maria was predeceased by her parents, Paolo & Ines Ferrari. She is survived by her husband Joseph and their sons Raymond, Kim and Kelly Nigro and his wife Robin Frasca, sisters Nelda Pedrazzoli, Joy Phillips and many nieces and nephews.
Maria will be interred at the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside, CA. In lieu of flowers, please consider sending a donation to the Special Olympics of Northern California.