Frances Margaret (Kriwacki) Pagini, 98, of 288 Springdale Avenue, Meriden, wife of the late David J. Pagini, passed away peacefully at her home on November 26, 2019, after a short illness. Frances was born in the Westfield section of Middletown on August 28, 1921, the daughter of Peter Paul Kriwacki of Buniskiai, Lazdijai, Lithuania, and Frances Platowicz of Kolno, Podlaskie, Poland.
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Frances’ father had a variety of occupations, from butcher to potato / tobacco farmer, to factory worker, which brought the family from Bridgeport to Middletown, to West Suffield, to the “Tower House” in Kensington, and finally to their little house on Percival Avenue near the bridge on Paper Goods Pond, where he worked in the adjoining factory. There the family enjoyed walking and bicycling at the fringe of Kensington Village just ahead of the emergence of suburbia. They fished and skated on the mill pond as did her children in their visits to “Nana and Tata”.
Frances attended Berlin Schools, including Berlin High School where she excelled academically, graduating as valedictorian of her class. She was also involved in a mind-boggling number of extracurricular activities (13 in all). Always self-effacing, she dismissed her involvement, claiming that her multiple activities were highly exaggerated. Her yearbook quote simply summed up her life’s philosophy: “Success means work and lots of it” Her children inherited her (exhausting) drive for hard work and achievement.
She wasted no time putting her skills and intellect to good work by applying to the War Department more than a year before the War broke out, serving throughout the War as secretary to generals and other top brass. She was among the first War Department employees to occupy the Pentagon upon its completion.
Frances was typical of that generation in terms of their work ethic and frugality.
Upon her return from Washington after the War, she worked for Max Savitt in Hartford, among other jobs. She commuted by train from Kensington, and it was on one of those routine commutes when her path crossed that of a handsome 1st generation Italian American from Meriden, also on his commute to Hartford. They were both smitten, and soon married on June 18, 1949. She was also a skilled seamstress, sewing many of her own clothes, as well as her wedding gown. David and Frances gathered their War Bonds and built a little cape on the fringes of the Italian neighborhood, where they raised five children. The family grew up surrounded by grape arbors, Italian bakeries, and grocery and variety stores. Frances was truly a Polish princess in the midst of Little Italy. None was the wiser.
While our father continued to work in Hartford, our mother raised us at home, walked us everywhere, or pushed us in a carriage to Hubbard Park over the hills of Reservoir Avenue.
Frances finally had an opportunity to go back to the work she loved, serving as Secretary for Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and then a legal Secretary at Halloran and Sage in Hartford.
David and Frances were not world travelers, but their nearly weekly forays throughout New England and New York following retirement were a great source of enjoyment for them. Even more, their “retirement” hobby was no less equal in labor and time as it was to the creation of the Hanging Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar. Who can ever forget the carpet of color (David’s flowers) and the fragrance of herbs (Frances’s touch) which greeted visitors as they rounded the corner of their humble cape. In 1994, their labors were rewarded when they won the Meriden Daffodil Garden Contest in the category of “naturalized garden”.
Frances faithfully cared for David in their home when he became so debilitated that he was unable to walk. Thanks to her care and the help of family and dedicated caregivers, he had a peaceful passing in his own home.
Frances is survived by daughters Claire Pagini of Thomaston and Elizabeth (Rod) Plaisted of West Danville, VT; sons Robert (Marcella Drozd) Pagini of Meriden; Donald (Janet Zagorski) Pagini of Meriden; and John (Kathleen Lodge) Pagini of Coventry. Frances also leaves behind her beloved grandchildren Amy (Torchia) Bacon; Daniel and To Katie Torchia; Jeffrey (Amy Patino) Pagini, Kevin (Diana Dick) Pagini; David (Rebecca Macfarlane) Pagini; Joseph Pagini; Christina (Pagini) Hatch and husband John; step-grandchildren Salvatore Camera, Victoria (Camera) Reed); Patricia (Camera) Sumara; and Deborah Camera-Moriarty; great-grandchildren Emma and Kaitlyn Pagini; Maya, Jude, Jonas, and Layla Bacon; Ava Strassberger; and Sean, Brandon, and Ryan Hatch; step-great-grandchildren Nicholas and Natalie Camera; Tori (Hendrix) Duckworth and husband Phillip; Kyle (Mollie Hull) Hendrix; Jessica (Cromarty) Rand and husband Stephen; James (Sheri Grooms) Cromarty; Brianna & Gracey Moriarty; and Kelsey Hatch (Kevin Campbell); and step-great-great grandchildren Alex, Olivia, Thomas, Grayson and Zarina. She is also survived by 4 nieces and 2 nephews. Besides her husband, she is predeceased by sisters Helen (Joseph) Simeone and Edwina Kriwacki, and brother Peter (Rosalie) Kriwacki; nieces Judith McIntyre and Marie Simeone; nephew Thomas Kriwacki; and son-in-law James Torchia.
We cannot express enough appreciation for the loving and skilled care of her caregiver for the past year, Temitope Alimi of Visiting Angels. With her irreplaceable dedication, we were able to fulfill our mother’s wishes to live her final years in her own home, and on her own terms.
Calling hours for family and friends will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at the John J. Ferry & Sons Funeral Home, 88 East Main Street, Meriden from 4 to 7 PM. Funeral service will be on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 9:15 AM from the funeral home to Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish, Mt. Carmel Campus, 109 Goodwill Avenue, Meriden for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 AM. Burial will follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery, 250 Gypsy Lane, Meriden. For online condolences and directions, please visit www.jferryfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Frances’ memory to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.