Cover photo for Rose "Rosie" Colaizzi Tonti's Obituary
Rose "Rosie" Colaizzi Tonti Profile Photo
1921 Rose "Rosie" 2023

Rose "Rosie" Colaizzi Tonti

September 2, 1921 — August 18, 2023

La Dolce Vita!  (The Sweet Life!) 

A centennial mother, grandmother “Nonna”, great-grandmother “Nonina”, and friend to everyone she met. Rosie was born in a small mountain town outside of Rome, Italy called San Pietro Avellana. She was the daughter of Giuseppe “Joseph” Colaizzi and Loreta Sozio Colaizzi. They grew up poor but had their faith and they were happy and worked hard. When she was about two years old, her father moved to America to make more money for the family. Rosie and her little brother, Michael, enjoyed growing up in the town and their walks through the forest to a special Catholic Church, which the town was named after. She met her future husband Domenic Tonti at a young age.

 

WWII broke out in Italy and soon her town was bombed and they became refugees. Michael was drafted into the war and passed away from pneumonia since they were unable to obtain antibiotics. When the American Soldiers came and liberated Italy, the town’s people celebrated the soldiers on the streets. On March 31, 1950, Rosie’s boat reached New York; Domenic and Rosie took a train to Mansfield, Ohio to a glorious feast filled with friends and other distant relatives. After a few months, Rosie made the final trek to reconnect with her father on April 3, 1950, where she tells the scary tale of getting off the train with just a small suitcase and a picture of her father. Her train was early; she only spoke Italian and was waiting at the Ogden Union Train Station without any way to connect with her father. “Will he even remember what I looked like?”, she wondered after 28 years apart. Of course, he did. Domenic Tonti moved to Ogden, Utah and married Rosie on March 31, 1951 at St. Joseph Catholic Church. 

 

Domenic began working for the Union Pacific Railroad. Rosie started working at Utah Tailoring Mills in 1953 as a seamstress. Rosie’s parents along with Domenic and Rosie began a new life on Monroe Blvd. For several months, they could not afford a refrigerator. Rosie remembered she had a piggy bank filled with $60 which helped speed up the purchase of this necessity. 

 

Domenic and Rose were eager to learn English and become US citizens. They took English classes and vowed their children would lead American lives. When Rosie went to take her citizenship test, she said the person interviewing her scared her and she flunked the test three times, however she never gave up, and became a citizen in 1956. Rosie’s motto from that day forward was: “God Bless America!”.   

 

They had three daughters, and each grew up attending Saint Joseph Catholic School which at the time was out of budget for them, however, they sacrificed in order to pay for their tuition because they believed in a good education since they did not have one. They were welcomed into the wonderful St. Joseph School Community and became part of the original athletic Booster’s Club where she found her love watching basketball. 

 

Rosie was an avid Jazz fan and rarely missed a game. Before every game was televised she would listen in on an old transistor radio. She would not answer her phone if the Jazz were on. At a school fundraiser she won the bid to go to a Jazz game, watch practice from the court before the game and met Jerry Sloan, Hot Rod Huntley and Ron Boone. She was about 4 ft 10 in when she looked up at Jerry, waving her finger at him and said in her thick Italian voice, “listen, you no swear at the referee and get kicked out, you no do any good if you can’t coach!” When she was 100 the Utah Jazz invited her and celebrated her at a game. Her dear friend Kay Crawford shared her love for the Jazz and the two would call each other after every game to critique them. 

 

After Domenic’s death in 1982, Rosie and her mother built a home on the mountain foothills. Rosie would walk to St. James Catholic Church every day for daily Rosary, Mass, Adoration, and socialization with coffee and cookies after Mass with friends. Father Erik Richtsteig offered to put a gate in her backyard so it would be a shorter walk for her, however, she said she would be fine. After she no longer could drive, many friends would pick her up so she could still go to pray daily at the church she so dearly loved and was involved in many ministries over the years. Rosie was an active member of the Council of Catholic Women, Promoters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Catholic Business Women’s Luncheon. Every month she looked forward to going to the meetings, but mostly the socialization.  

 

In the 1980s, Rosie became a Grandmother to four grandchildren, who also attended Saint Joseph’s School. Shortly thereafter, Rosie’s mother passed away and she became the main matriarch. Her home was filled with love, not material things. There was hardly a day without cooking in the kitchen. On the side of the refrigerator was a decades-old board to make pasta and gnocchi, the floor always had lightly white-flour dust, and the smells, oh the smells of the freshest foods. She would constantly be telling everyone she made the best of something in her thick Italian accent, “I bake the best-a bread I ever make-a.” Food, cooking, and canning brought her family and friends together. So many foods made from scratch like lasagna, gnocchi, spaghetti, meatballs, rolls, fried zucchini, focaccia, pizza, apple pie, frites, banana bread, twist cookies and her signature anise-fueled pizzelles pressed on a custom iron received as a wedding gift with their initials. Every year we looked forward to peeling tomatoes in the garage and basement to make her signature homemade spaghetti sauce. Within a month before her death she made 5 loaves of bread, 6 dozen Italian cookies and 24 dozen Pizzelles.  

 

Rosie’s passions were clear and simple: God first, family, friends, cooking and hard work. She had forza (the force of life). She remembered everyone she met and they remembered her making her feel, “like a movie starrr,” as she said. At Utah Tailoring, she lived out her passion for being a fashion designer. She made patterns, did hand-finishing work on the clothing, and created her signature rose made out of material for celebrities and rodeo queens. She said it didn’t matter how much money you make, you have to love what you do. When Rosie came home, she would retreat after dinner to the basement and sew all the clothing for her and her girls. After 45 years she retired in 1999 at age 78 only because she was stricken with macular degeneration and was no longer able to see to thread a needle. 

 

To great surprise, the family expanded again in the 2010s when she became a great-grandmother to four more great-grandchildren, who, you guessed it, also attend Saint Joseph’s School. At the age of 101, she had a cameo in the movie, “Devil’s Men”, about the Byrne family and the American Soldier Black Devil’s Brigade who helped liberate her town during WWII. She loved going to the premieres, being interviewed by the Director Dave Bresnahan, and feeling like a movie star. She said, “See you’re never too old to do what you want”. 

 

She lived for everyone and had infinite care for those she met. She offered 101 years and 11.75 months of love and everyone that met her forever remembers and shares stories they created together. Her secret to a long life was, “Keep a go-a, love God, pray, work hard, be of service to others, make people smile, be grateful for everything you have, forgive, and surround yourself with many friends and family. God Bless you! God Bless America! Go Utah Jazz!

 

Rosie was blessed with an abundance of friends which was evident at her 100th birthday which included over 300 guests. She loved a good party with dancing! While we are unable to mention each of you who played such an important part in Rosie’s life, please know each of you was loved by Rosie.  A special thank you to Carl Smith and Elizabeth Atkins for visiting her almost daily for coffee and Italian cookies. 

 

Rosie is survived by her daughters Jean Tonti, Loreta (Steve Woodward deceased), Mary (Glenn Miller); grandchildren Niki (Christian) Barwick, Stephanie (Tom) Franken, Michael Woodward (Bret Morrell), and James Miller; great-grandchildren Lydia and Domenic Franken, Vincent and Luca Barwick. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brother Michael Colaizzi who died during WWII. 

 

Holy Rosary will be held on Thursday, August 24th at 6 p.m., with viewing to follow until 8:30 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, 1100 E. 5550 S., South Ogden. Funeral Mass will be Friday, August 25th at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church. Interment at Lindquist’s Washington Heights Memorial Park, 4500 Washington Blvd. 

 

Buona sera, ti voglio bene, ci vediamo! (Good night, I love you very much, see you soon!)  We love you always and forever and know your memories, wisdom, and example will live on in everyone you have touched.

 

In lieu of flowers it was Rosie’s wish to purchase a Cross in her memory to Holy Family Catholic Church. You can venmo @Mary-Miller-114, or write a check to Holy Family. Donations can also be made to St. Joseph’s Catholic Schools. 

 

Services will be live-streamed and available the day of the services by scrolling to the bottom of Rosie’s obituary page

 

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Prayer Service

Thursday, August 24, 2023

6:00 - 6:30 pm (Mountain time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

1100 E 5550 S, South Ogden, UT 84403

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Thursday, August 24, 2023

6:30 - 8:30 pm (Mountain time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

1100 E 5550 S, South Ogden, UT 84403

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass

Friday, August 25, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

1100 E 5550 S, South Ogden, UT 84403

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Interment

Friday, August 25, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

Lindquist's Washington Heights Memorial Park

4500 E Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84403

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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Visits: 1646

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