Johanna Grillo, born Giovannina Amodeo, Nané, went home to the Lord on July 13, 2021, at the age of 102. Nané was born November 3, 1918 in Norwich CT, the second daughter of Pasquale and Maria (Romano) Amodeo, both of Terlizzi, Bari, Italy.
At the age of two, with the passing of her grandmother Francesca Amodeo, she and her parents and sister Francesca, were summoned back to Italy, to help her grandfather raise the rest of the family. She was educated in a private home school, where she learned cooking, handiwork, and basic reading and math skills.
At the age of 16, following a two-week trans-Atlantic voyage, with her sister, Johanna, moved in with her aunt and uncle, Mary and Onofrio Amodeo. Johanna began working lengthly hours in the garment industry at Majestic Trouser and JB Martin, on Chestnut Street, Norwich, and was a faithful employee until her retirement in 1981.
She was married to Joseph Grillo, on October 25, 1937, at St. Patrick Cathedral, Norwich. They bought their first home and cultivated fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers, as well as nurtured their three children. Since their families had come from different areas in Italy, and did not speak the same dialects, they both attended night school to learn to read and write English, and continued to speak only English in their home, with their children.
While Nané’s seamstress skills were unmatched, her happiest moments were spent in her kitchen. Her door was always open to many a visitor, and a simple telephone call would prompt a pot of coffee to be brewed and a plate full of sweets to be served, along with a story, to nourish the body and feed the soul.
She taught three generations of family and friends how to make the perfect ravioli, Sunday sauce and meatballs, fresh apple cake, and pasciuttini cookies.
Johanna was a survivor, before the phrase was even vogue, after losing her husband, on July 14, 1962, her son James, (1972), and her daughter Patricia Gagliardo (2020). She was the last of her siblings, predeceased by Francesca Grillo (Niantic), Luigina Amodeo (Terlizzi), Luigina Quadrello (Bari), Francesco Amodeo (Italy), Giuseppe Amodeo (Norwich), and Martarina Amodeo (Terlizzi).
A faithful Catholic, she only saw the good, in everyone and every situation, and we are all the better and wiser for her wisdom and grace. The immediate family entrusted to carry on her legacy are her son Santo (John) Grillo and his companion, Ruth Skillings; former daughter-in-law Joan Olson, son-in-law Gene Gagliardo; grandchildren, Sandra Grillo and Wallace Gagnon, Christine and John Paparelli, Robert and Lisa Grillo, David and Debbie Scott, and Richard LaDolce. She will be deeply missed by great-grandchildren Andraya and Terence Brunau, Alexa Paparelli and her companion John Lamperelli, Joseph Paparelli, Samantha Grillo, and Michael Scott; and her sweetest joy, great-great-granddaughter, Charlotte Brunau.
She also leaves many nieces and nephews, friends and new acquaintances who made her life richer, and who loved her well. We would especially like to thank Jasmin Figureoa, and Recovery Resources, for providing Nané with extra loving care.
Rest in peace, Nané. Ci ricorderemo di te. We will remember you.
Friends and family are invited to visit Cummings-Gagne Funeral Home, 82 Cliff Street, Norwich, on Thursday, July 22, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, July 23, at The Cathedral of St. Patrick, 213 Broadway, Norwich, at 10:00 a.m. with interment to follow at St. Joseph Cemetery, Boswell Avenue, Norwich.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Johanna’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
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