Marie Bastoni lived within a three-block radius in Santa Rosa's West End Neighborhood for all of her 98 years. She was rooted there, like the roses that adorned her Boyce Street home, which often was filled with family and the aromas of one of her signature dishes.
Bastoni died Thursday at her home, where she had been receiving hospice care.
Bastoni was born in a Boyce Street home on Sept. 17, 1914, to parents Louis and Irene Bertoni, who had six children. The couple, who immigrated to the United States from the Tuscany region of Italy, named their second oldest Amer-i-ca to honor their new home.
Bastoni later legally changed her name to Marie because that's what people tended to call her anyway, said her son, Nick Bastoni.
He described his mother as a “very, very tough lady,” in spite of her relatively diminutive size.
“She was just a real strong old Italian lady,” Nick Bastoni, who lives in Santa Rosa, said.
He said his mother never smoked or drank alcohol. She and her husband, who also was named Nick, also rarely traveled much. The pair were next-door neighbors on Boyce Street when they met and started dating.
Marie did not go to school past the sixth grade after her father insisted she stay home to help her mother with raising the children.
She later helped her husband with the garbage business that he ran with a partner. At its peak, Bastoni & Bongi had two garbage trucks, and Nick collected payment by going door-to-door.
Marie's life revolved around family. She was a wonderful cook, often pitching in to make spaghetti sauces and marinades for dinner dances and picnics for the Sons of Italy and Italian-American club events.
Her son fondly recalled Marie's preparations for Thanksgiving every year, when she put raviolis she planned to cook on the holiday on a sheet spread on the bed. She never wanted the food frozen.
The family grew almost every vegetable they ever ate, including onions, celery, tomatoes and Swiss chard. They also had basil, parsley and other herbs that made Marie's dishes sing.
Marie was worried when her son was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and sent to Korea. She also was devastated when her two daughters, Eileen Cole and Shirley Widdoes, both died of cancer.
Her husband preceded her in death. Besides her son, she also is survived by a sister, June Bache of Santa Rosa.
A funeral mass is planned for 1 p.m. Thursday at St. Rose Catholic Church in Santa Rosa. A reception will follow.
The family requests donations be made to Sutter Hospice, 110 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa.