Rosella May Cafiero (Rightnour) 3/30/1935—3/22/2023
Rosella, also known as Nana, Old Nana, Rose, Mama Rose, Ma, and Mom, passed
away peacefully on a drizzly Wednesday morning. She was a loving mother,
grandmother, great grandmother, mother-in-law, wife, and friend. The weather proved
how much all who knew and loved her would miss her.
A woman of many talents, she was most known for her beautiful and tasty wedding
cakes, her ability to sew anything from clothing to heavy drapery, her contagious
personality, and her love of Italian cooking. She often said she wasn’t born Italian but
became one by injection.
Born in Duncansville, PA during a blizzard, her father delivered her because the doctor
could not get up the mountain. She loved telling the story about how her mother had
made her father his favorite Navy bean soup for supper. Around 4:00 am, her mother
woke up in pain and her father thought it was gas from the bean soup. Low and behold,
Rosella was born at 5:55 am. From then on, he called her his ‘little bean fart.’
Growing up in a two-room shack her grandfather had built; they were very poor. There
was no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. In the summers, they ate
vegetables which they grew in their garden and in the winters; they hunted for deer,
squirrel, bear, and rabbits. She wore hand-me-down clothes and often the other children
teased her because of how poor they were.
During the war, her father left the coal mines and went to work on military planes and
her mother packed parachutes. But when her grandfather died in 1943, they took her
and her three brothers (Thomas Clifford, Charles, and Leon) to a foster home so they
would be cared for and fed.
The foster home had two acres of land, and they made Rose and her brother Cliff plow
the field by taking turns pushing and pulling the plow. Working on the farm, she learned
how to cook, clean, and iron. She also took care of the little babies in the foster home.
Rose spent several years in the foster care system until one day, she ended up in a
Catholic girls' orphanage, St. Mary’s in Cresson, PA, and her three brothers went to the
Life became harder for her. Though she had lots of chores, it was the beatings with a
birch switch that caused welts on her legs and arms that she hated the most. She also
hated how the babies were treated and so she wrote her father a letter telling him about
the abuse. Shortly after, at twelve years old, her aunt and uncle came to get her, and
she went to live with them.
Rose moved to Albuquerque when she was fourteen because her uncle had asthma
and the doctor suggested a warmer, dry climate. She graduated eighth grade but had a
hard time in high school having to learn Spanish. Rosella informed her aunt once she
turned sixteen; she was going to quit school and go to work.
Landing a job at Cream land Dairies, she was known for making the best milkshakes,
malts, and egg creams. Sandia and Kirkland Airforce bases were in Albuquerque and
one night she met a handsome Italian Airforce Sargent from Brooklyn, NY. They started
dating but her family didn’t approve because he was Italian. Only a few weeks away
from turning seventeen, she finally got permission from her father to marry. On March
21, 1952, Rosella Rightnour married Salvatore Cafiero by the justice of the peace.
They moved to Brooklyn, NY where she met his entire, loud family. It was with them she
finally had the family life she craved. She gained three sisters and three brothers-in-law.
Theresa/Al Anastasia, Louise/Frank Starita, and Annette/Tom Albergo. Because her
new mother-in-law, Lucia, wanted them married in the church, they had a second
wedding with all his family in attendance on May 4, 1952. But by then, she was
pregnant with her oldest son, Salvatore Jr. (1953) Three years later, she had her
daughter, Lucy, (1956) who was named after her beloved mother-in-law, who had
passed away from ovarian cancer. And six years after that, she had her youngest son,
Rosella’s life was blessed from there on out. Her career as a stay-at-home mom was
one she took seriously. You could eat off her floors. Rosella loved to entertain, cooking
up meals that were beyond delicious. In order to save money, she learned how to sew
and make her own draperies and clothing. Later in her life, she took a cake decorating
class, got her GED, and took a doll making class. Her love of art as a hobby turned into
a wedding cake business. She excelled at whatever she did.
After moving to San Diego, California, they purchased a motorhome and joined a club to
camp with other like-minded people. They loved taking cruises, going to Vegas,
throwing dinner parties, and spending time with their many grandchildren.
Anyone who met Rosella, loved her. She was fun loving and the life of the party. She
was outspoken, talented, and beautiful inside and out.
In January, 2020, Rosella moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, so she could
travel without worries. Unfortunately, Covid put a stop to traveling, but they entertained
themselves by playing board games, drinking martinis, reading, and cooking up
sumptuous meals. It wasn’t until after Covid was she able to go back to California twice
and visit family and friends.
Suffering a massive stroke in July 2022, her life changed drastically, but she endured
through physical therapy, trying to regain the freedom she had prior to her stroke. Rose
made fast friends in her new home at The Oaks at Habersham. She was a classy lady
who was always dressed impeccably and who had lots of friends. A far cry from her
She will join her husband, of over fifty years, who predeceased her, (2004) at Riverside
Memorial cemetery, in Riverside CA. Her mother, Regina, her father Thomas A, brothers
Thomas Clifford, and Leon Rightnour all who predeceased her.
Rosella leaves behind her children, son Salvatore Cafiero (Kathy); daughter Lucy
Cafiero-Ahl (Dana); and John Cafiero. Grandchildren, Jaime Suzanne Cafiero,
Salvatore 3 rd Cafiero (Crystal); Joseph Cafiero (Nina); Adam Lester, Angela Linam,
Samantha Cady (Will). Great grandchildren, Matthew Lester, Zoey Lester, Tore Cafiero,
Alexander Cafiero, Joseph Cafiero, David Cafiero, Eliana Cafiero, Phoenix Cady, Dakoa
Cady, Rylan Cady, Landon Linam. Brother: Charles Rightnour, Sister-in-law: Louise
Starita, and many nieces and nephews, not to mention hundreds of friends who she
Families First in Savannah, GA handled her cremation.
A celebration of life will be on April 15th at 2:00 pm at her daughter’s house where
Rosella’s favorite drink, martinis, will be served up to all who want one or two.
This beautiful soul left a hole in this world that can never be filled. She was one of a
kind. May she rest in peace.
Offer Condolence for the family of Rosella May CafieroPrint This Obituary & Condolences
Wow. What a courageous and steadfast woman she was. I can see how much she will be missed and how much she is loved and respected. My deepest sympathies to the entire family. Hold each other close, always.
I am friends with her daughter, Lucy, whom I met through Coffee House Writers—hugs to you, Lucy, and your family.
Thank you Jill! Appreciate your kind words!
Mom, what can I say? I was so glad to have the last several years with you close to me. God answered my prayers when I was a little girl. Every night, I prayed He would keep you with me for a long time. We had fun while you lived with Dana and I. I enjoyed our happy hours, our chicken foot games, and you being my second set of eyes on all my stories I wrote. Growing up, we didn’t always see eye to eye but your love for me never died nor mine for you. We’d forgive and forget. You helped me out so much in my life, I can never forget how you continued to be a mother even though I was one too. I miss talking to you every day. I hope you are with all the loved ones who went before you and that you are at peace. May you be forever young. I love you!
Rose was a delight and truly life of the party, I had no idea she used to do wedding cakes! Though we met several times I wish we had gotten to know each other more. She made everyone around her feel special when they came for a visit. Zack and I will miss her mischievous ways.
Thank you for this beautiful eulogy of her life.
My beloved Auntie has left a hole in my heart. She was always the fun, dirty joke telling and very loving aunt that all her nieces and nephews adored. She still had that wicked twinkle in her eyes. My two sons loved her, but then, who could not? Last I saw her was two years ago when my mom, Louise, (her sister-in-law), who lives with me here in South Carolina, turned 98. I’d hoped she’d visit us this July when my mom turns 100. My Mom is the last to carry the family torch. Auntie called me on my 71st birthday on March 5th. The last thing she said to me was, “Bobby, I love you”. (I’m Robert to my friends, but was always Bobby to my beloved Aunt). I will carry and cherish those words for the rest of my life. You’re in Our Lords loving Arms. May you shine in His Light and live in His Eternal Glory. “I love you too, Auntie”……. Love, your “Bobby” and “sister”, Louise Starita My deepest sympathy to my cousins Sal, Lucy, John, Kathy, Dana and families. She’s in a better place and at peace.
Teri Abrahamson (Anastasio)
Auntie Roe was so special to us all. I enjoyed the times we shared while she lived in Florida. I remember her always being glammed out with sequins and jewels! And boy were her cakes delicious!! Sending our condolences to the family.
Nicholas m Nastasi
My sincerest is for the loss of rosella 😪