Elizabeth Andreanna "Libby" DiNardo, a teacher who loved opera and travel and solved bad hair days with statement hats, died May 28, at Gilchrist Hospice Center in Towson of complications from a broken hip. She was 92.
Ms. DiNardo, who lived most of her life in Baltimore, grew up on Bentalou Street in West Baltimore, one of three children born to Hector Francis DiNardo, a watchmaker, and Louisa Marie Verderomi DiNardo, a homemaker. She traced her passion for opera to sessions spent on the front steps listening to a Victrola with her parents, both first-generation Americans whose families emigrated from southern Italy.
In 1940, Ms. DiNardo graduated from Mount St. Agnes High School, going on to the now defunct Mount St. Agnes College, where she received an associate degree in 1942. She later worked in the accounting department of the Baltimore Sun. Seeing her aptitude for numbers, her boss suggested she become a certified public accountant, "but she had another calling," said niece Mary Lou DiNardo.
Well into her 30s, while working full time, Ms. DiNardo returned to school, earning a bachelor's degree from the College of Education at what is now Towson University in 1961. Ms. DiNardo taught fifth grade at Villa Cresta Elementary School for decades and at Loch Raven Middle School. She also volunteered for at least a dozen years teaching reading and English to adults, especially newly arrived immigrants, working into her 70s.
"I have met so many people in the last 20 years who say, 'You're a DiNardo. Could you be related to Elizabeth DiNardo who taught my parents to read?'" her niece said. "She just determined that this was a way she could live a fulfilled and happy life."
As a teacher, Ms. DiNardo was known for high standards, but for her 11 nieces and nephews, "Aunt Tootsie," was a mastermind of holiday fun, famous for elaborate cakes, including one for Easter decorated with bunnies, chicks and Faberge-style eggs crafted from jelly beans that she produced annually until this year.
"There are a lot of us in our family," Mary Lou DiNardo said. "She was just a constant."
Ms. DiNardo, a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great as a child, dated, played golf and loved to dance. She had an independent streak, never marrying and traveling solo throughout the world, including to Japan and South Korea. Pictures from the time show her in a snappy fedora trimmed in faux leopard skin.
"She always had that wanderlust and she always had that keen quest for knowledge of other cultures," her niece said.