Marie Hélèna Nazzaro (née Klavender), born in Marles-les-Mines, in the Pas-de-Calais department of France, on July 25, 1921, died on November 13, 2014. Marie, known as Mémé since her first grandchild was born 35 years ago, lived a remarkable life of grace, caring and dignity in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.

Mémé came to the US in 1946—a year after she married Italian-American GI, Carl Albert (“Al”) Nazzaro, in Nice, on the Cote d’Azur, where her family had settled. Coming of age in the Swing, “Big Band era,” Marie fell in love dancing with Al. They married in Nice 8 months after they met though they didn’t speak each other’s language. Soon after Marie and Al’s wedding, he was deployed to Germany. He then went home ahead of Marie, who came months later on a military transport ship of war brides. 

Enduring the Nazi occupation; losing her eldest sister, Jeanne, in a bombing; loving education, but leaving school to care for Jeanne’s 5 children; giving safe harbor to a Jewish family; and making deep connections to friends and family that would last a lifetime—these characterized Marie Hélèna’s life. She lived a life of serving—caring for others—her family, neighbors, her church community of Our Lady of Sorrows in Jersey City, and many people she just met or did not meet but whose mission she shared.

Marie Hélèna Nazzaro died in the comfort of her daughter’s home, surrounded by her three children, Ann-Marie (Milczarski) Nazzaro (Montclair, NJ), Carl Albert Nazzaro, Jr. (Cranford, NJ), and Alan James Nazzaro (Parker, CO).

Living with a blood disorder herself—a thrombophilia, and having a grandson with severe hemophilia and a great granddaughter who is an obligate carrier, Marie and her family named FWGBD as an important charity through which she can be memorialized.

Please place Marie Hélèna’s name in the description box if this is a contribution you wish to make. The Nazzaro family thanks all of you who have given generously in Marie Hélèna’s name.