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Genevieve M. DiCamillo, homemaker

Genevieve M. DiCamillo, 105, of Hamilton was an accomplished Italian cook who was known for her family dinners.
Genevieve M. DiCamillo, 105, of Hamilton was an accomplished Italian cook who was known for her family dinners. (Baltimore Sun)

Genevieve M. DiCamillo, a homemaker and accomplished Italian cook who was known for her family dinners, died Saturday at her Hamilton home of breast cancer. She was 105.

The daughter of immigrant Italian parents, Angelo Santastefano, a coal miner, and Assunta Santastefano, a homemaker, the former Genevieve Madeline Santastefano was born and raised in Homer City, Pa.

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She told family members that she withdrew from school when she was in the eighth grade because "there was a lot of prejudice against Italians," said a granddaughter, Laura DiCamillo Kogelschatz, who lives in the city's Lake Walker neighborhood.

She was 18 years old when she left the western Pennsylvania coal fields and came to Baltimore, where Mrs. DiCamillo, who was an accomplished seamstress, took a job in the city's garment district as a buttonhole maker.

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She married John J. DiCamillo on Oct. 28, 1929, a day that became known as "Black Tuesday," because the New York stock market crashed, plunging the nation into the Great Depression.

"They were in New York City for their honeymoon and my grandmother recalled being naive to what was so important about this 'Wall Street' and that people were committing suicide by jumping out of windows," said Ms. Kogelschatz, a social worker at Leith Walk Elementary School.

The couple settled in the city's Pimlico neighborhood, where they raised their five children. After the death of her husband, a conductor for the Canton Railroad, in 1970, she lived in Cape Coral, Fla., for two years, then moved to Hamilton.

Mrs. DiCamillo was known for her family Sunday spaghetti dinners that she hosted after church.

"She made her own sauce every week and sometimes her own pasta," her granddaughter said. In addition to her lemon meringue, cherry and apple pies, she also made Italian cookies and pizzelles.

Mrs. DiCamillo enjoyed crossword puzzles, playing solitaire, and watching soap operas. She was also an inveterate daily newspaper reader.

Through her life, she was gifted with an incredible memory for such family events as birthdays, marriages and deaths, her granddaughter said.

"She knew what she had paid for something in 1955, and the dates when coupons would expire, and would call my mother and say, 'Your Crispix coupon is about the expire,'" her granddaughter recalled, with a laugh.

A son, John E. DiCamillo of Parkville, said his mother always had a "healthy appetite, a good outlook on life, and never drank or smoked. She drank coffee and did not eat meat on Wednesday and Friday," he said. "You have to be tough to be old."

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Johnson-Fosbrink Funeral Home, 8521 Loch Raven Blvd., Baynesville.

In addition to her son and granddaughter, Mrs. DiCamillo is survived by another son, James R. DiCamillo of Hamilton; two daughters, Mildred Elliott of Towson and Nancy Jones of Mays Chapel; 14 other grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Margaret Dempsey, died in 2011.

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