Mary Ellen Josephine Peluso Blake passed over into Eternal Life on May 2, 2013 at the age of 93. She was born in Tacoma, WA on August 11, 1919 to Antonio Peluso and Theresa Cozza. Her younger brother Ralph was born two years later.
She was called Mary Ellen by family and friends all her life but after moving to Port Orchard in the mid 1960’s she just introduced herself as Mary. She grew up in an extended Italian family with her grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles who doted upon her. They emigrated from Italy in 1888 and they were a leading family among immigrants in Tacoma. They owned many businesses including Cozza and Sons Poultry Market where she worked for many years while growing up. She attended St. Leo’s Catholic Grade and High School graduating in 1937’. She attended Business College which launched her in a career that served her well all of her life.
In 1945 she became a Civil Service employee at the Northwest Ordinance Depot and in 1965 transferred to Bangor as a Management Technician in the Industrial Management Dept at Bangor Naval Ammunition Depot.
In 1955 she married George Blake, a widower with four children, Louise, Frank, Christina and Robert Blake. Although they had no children together they adopted George’s biological grandson Tim when he was nine years old in 1972.
Mary was a caring and generous woman who would help you in a heartbeat. She sheltered many family members and friends who needed a place to stay or to live. She was always the first to help someone in need. Her Catholic faith was her rock, was a member of St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church and had been very active there. Mary was also a volunteer and in many different places until ill health prevented her from doing so.
Tiny little Mary (4’ 10”) was a feisty, active and hard working gal. She was a perfectionist and loathed incompetence in others. In 1969 she won the Zero Defects Craftsman of the Year Award for NAD Bangor.
Mary lost her beloved husband George to cancer in 1974 and never remarried. He was the love of her life. After that she traveled to Europe several times with her niece Paula Peluso Fiorino with whom she had a very close relationship. On one of the visits to Italy she met her half brother Giuseppe Peluso for the first time and they stayed in the village where her father was born.
Mary was never idle and was always doing something. She loved to plant vegetables and work in her garden. She canned everything she grew including the Roma beans that grew from the seeds her grandfather Giuseppe Cozza brought from Italy in 1888. Everyone wanted a jar of those beans! And cook…….she was a great Italian cook and baker. Every summer she hosted an awesome Italian Picnic in her yard for the extended family.
Everyone knew Mary loved to read and she never went anywhere without a book or her crochet hook for that matter. If she wasn’t up doing something she could be found sitting and reading a book or crocheting beautiful afghans and lap blankets for others. She also loved cats and would have three or four at any given time.
Mary retired in 1983 after working 38 years in Civil Service. But that didn’t stop her from working. At the age of 70 she became a waitress and even had to mop floors! In 1992 Mary went to work at St. Vincent de Paul doing payroll, accounting and bookkeeping. To her great disappointment in 2006 at the age of 87 she had to really retire due to ill health. The Kitsap Sun had featured several articles about Mary over the years. This will be the final one.
Due to her husband’s service during WWII, Mary was able to move to the Veteran’s Home at Retsil in 2008. During the years she lived there, she never, ever complained.
In 2011 she was deeply saddened by the loss of her beloved son Tim Blake to cancer who visited her every day. Along with George and Tim, she was also preceded in death by her brother Ralph and all of her step children and three grandchildren. She is survived by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews. She enjoyed a special relationship with her brothers’ children; nieces Paula Fiorino, Gail Cornelius, Mary Kienlen, Laura Shimshock, nephew Michael Peluso and his wife Patti and special friend Tina Jeu.
Mary’s family would like to extend a special ‘THANK YOU’ to all the wonderful angels who took care of her while she lived at the Veteran’s Home. They all loved her and she loved them. A special ‘THANK YOU’ to Alicia, Lesley, Marlena, Corey, Stephanie, Sandy, Debbie and Brenda who not only gave Mary the tender loving care all the employees did, but also they cultivated a close relationship with Mary’s niece Paula, keeping her informed of Mary’s every need and concern. For this the family is very grateful.
We would also like to extend a heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ to the angels at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church for their loyal and dedicated service in bringing Holy Communion to Mary on a regular basis and to Fr. Phuong Hoang who visited her every week.
There will be a Celebration of Life Memorial Mass for Mary on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm in the Chapel at Retsil Veteran’s Home in Port Orchard followed by a reception there. All are invited to attend.
“May the choirs of angels come to greet you, may they speed you to Paradise. May the Lord enfold you in His mercy, may you find Eternal Life. “