Mary Lou Tassinari
April 22, 1928 – December 24, 2019
Resident of Walnut Creek
Mary Lou Russo Tassinari passed away at home on December 24, 2019. She was with her extended family as they celebrated Christmas Eve at her traditional holiday party.
Mary Lou was born on April 22, 1928, to William and Mary Russo, and raised in West Oakland, along with her brother, Blaise Russo. The Russo family shared a two-story home with her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Solinas (Nana) and Nana’s children. The two families became one large family with Nana cooking the pasta and the children working together as a unit. There was much laughter and ribbing at the dinner table.
After graduating from Oakland Technical High School in 1946, Mary Lou joined the Oakland Recreation Department, and was involved with the Police Athletic League (PAL), where she supervised young people. She earned a reputation as a tough but fair leader. In the process, she helped several young team members to move forward to becoming “big league” players. This included Frank Robinson, who later made the Baseball Hall of Fame for his Baltimore Orioles talents. In his biography, Frank mentioned May Lou as someone who influenced him.
From 1951 to 1962 Mary Lou worked at Oakland Naval Supply Center. In 1954, Mary Lou met Henry Tassinari at a USO dance and they married in November of that year. They rented an apartment in Oakland until 1958, when they moved to a house they bought in the Walnut Creek area. They lived in that same house until this time - except for the period 1962 to 1967, when Henry, a Marine Staff Sergeant, was assigned to Headquarters, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA, and reassigned in 1964 to Reno, Nevada, where he and Mary Lou made lifelong friends. When they returned to Walnut Creek, they moved back into their “home’, which they had rented for those five years.
Mary Lou was a terrific host and organizer. She managed the Parish Hall at St. Mary’s Church for 23 years. This included a popular Annual Crab Feed, weekly Bingo, and many other functions and celebrations. Retirement did not slow Mary Lou down. She volunteered at numerous organizations, including the Walnut Creek Senior Club (monthly Wine and Dine), several Marine Corps groups in the area (Marine Corps League,1st Marine Division Association, and others), AND her favorite, the White Elephant Sale, a benefit for the Oakland Museum. She loved hosting family reunions and organized many happy occasions, including her annual Christmas party.
Mary Lou is survived by Henry, her husband of 65 years, and her brother, Blaise Russo, his wife Pearl Russo, nephews, Marc and Darius Russo, as well as many other extended family members.
Mary Lou’s family thanks Hospice East Bay for ensuring her death would be peaceful. Also, Marc, Chris, Inger, Isabella and Darius helped with her care, as well as Elvira Martinez, a good friend, who worked for and with Mary Lou for a very long time.
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