Frances LaMantia (Buccellato)
Frances was born on July 20, 1921 in San Jose, California, to Nicolau Buccellato and Giuseppa (Josephine) Azaro. She was the third of five children: John, Vince, Frances, Greg, and Mike. Being the only girl and growing up during the Great Depression had a profound impact on Frances’ life. She was a doer. Her family owned a cherry orchard that is now part of San Jose City College. They also owned and operated a successful bakery, The Italian American Bakery, on Willow and Vine, San Jose. Frances’ work experience began at the age of 8 when she was tall enough to reach the height of the apricot cutting table in neighboring orchards. As she got older, she worked in a variety of occupations such as selling crabs at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, keeping books, and working at the counter at the family’s bakery in San Jose. Ambitious, Frances took every business class on offer at Campbell High School, where she graduated in 1938 at the age of 16.
After graduating from high school, Frances met her future husband Joe LaMantia while she was working in the family’s bakery. They fell in love and, with the consent of both families, married in November 1941. Three months later, Joe left the US Army boot camp in Portland, Oregon. Frances followed Joe there and got a job pumping gasoline. Joe was posted to Germany and Frances returned to San Jose to work and live with her family.
After Joe returned home from the war, Frances and Joe bought their first home in San Carlos. Frances was hardworking, taking some woodworking classes and making furniture for her home. They had three children, Joe, Karen, and Georgia. Her husband Joe was very busy opening and running his own butcher shop in Redwood City at Paladino’s Market. The year Georgia was born, they sold their home and built a two-story, five-unit apartment on Holly Street. Frances had cut out her work for her. She had three children under the age of four, her husband worked 6 days a week, she kept the books for the butcher shop and did all the work around the apartment complex.
Frances cared for her family hard and worked and contributed to her community as well. As the children got older, she volunteered to be a Girl Scout, PTA Treasurer of Central Elementary School and later PTA President, teaching physically challenged students how to swim, serving as a cashier at Bank of America’s San Carlos branch, and later keeping books for a local furniture company. Frances also founded the San Carlos Apartment House Association and volunteered several times as treasurer for the Central School Elementary fundraiser known as The Chickens Ball. She also managed to roll her three children to and from her many sporting activities. In the late 1950s, Frances and Joe eventually sold their 5-unit apartment complex and bought a 14-unit complex in San Carlos on Walnut Street.
At the age of 40, Frances and Joe started playing golf to relax, one of the best things they did for themselves. Ten years later they sold their apartments, retired and moved back to San Jose to the villages with their 18-hole golf course. They played often and made wonderful lasting friends there. Frances helped organize and served as treasurer for several of the village’s ladies’ golf tournaments. During their retirement, Joe and Frances traveled the US golfing and took a trip to Italy to find their family roots. They had a wonderful life together.
A few years after Joe died in December 1996, Frances moved to Morgan Hill to share some wonderful years with an old family friend, Carlo Barbara. Their relationship has been a great partnership for both of them. Frances also appreciated her connections with Carlos’ loving family. After Carlo died, Frances lived with each of her adult children. She enjoyed her time with Karen in Long Beach, with Joe in Palm Desert, and with Georgia in Palo Cedro. Frances was involved in the Red Hats, played bridge at the recreation center, and faithfully attended and advocated the daily practice classes at the senior citizen center. She spent her final years in Fremont, California, where she passed away peacefully with family members by her side.
Her family and friends appreciate the 96+ years they have spent with Frances. She was a loving daughter to her parents; a big sister of her siblings; a whirlwind of a mother who never stopped loving and giving to her children; a special aunt for her many nieces and nephews; a generous and inspiring grandmother to her six grandchildren; and for their eight great-grandchildren – a memorable and cherished legacy they will hear of for years to come.
Frances has died of her parents Nicolau and Giuseppa (Josephine) (Azaro) Buccellato; her siblings and spouses: John (Katie), Greg (Betty), Vice (Marie) and Mike (Norma); her husband Joe LaMantia and her partner Carlo Barbara.
Frances is survived by her children Joe LaMantia, Karen LaMantia, and Georgia LaMantia (Richard); her six grandchildren: John Gakau (Anne), Kristen LaMantia-Lopez (Mike), Claire Mbugua, Megan LaMantia-Bishop (Joe), Josephine Mbugua (Ahmad), Jeffrey LaMantia-Bishop (Aparna); and eight great-grandchildren: Yusuf, Giovanni, Mateo, Anya, Ethan, Baron, Anton and Evelyn.
Frances was an important and influential part of our family’s life. She will be missed very much.
Our family is grateful for the wonderful and dedicated staff at Brookdale Fremont and Heartland Hospice. We are so grateful for the immeasurably friendly and personal care that you have offered to Frances.
A celebration will be held in honor of Frances on Saturday, July 21st at 12:00 noon at 1432 West San Carlos Street in San Jose in the common room.
Donations can be made to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association in honor of Frances
– Content submitted for publication by Georgia LaMantia