March 5, 1924-May 11, 2019
Mary Napoleon Paniccia passed away on May 11 at Aegis of Granada Hills, a memory-care residence where she lived for the last two years of her life.
Mary was born March 5, 1924, in Trenton, New Jersey, the daughter of Italian immigrants who came to the United States from Norcia, a small town in the hills of Umbria. Shortly after the start of World War II, Mary married Valentino Paniccia, an Italian immigrant who enlisted and served in the South Pacific. Mary then raised their firstborn son alone until the war ended. They then moved to Los Angeles and lived at Roger Young Village, which was temporary GI housing that consisted of quonset huts along the L.A. River in Griffith Park. On the day their second child was born, Val quit his job and started what would become a successful construction business in Los Angeles — Val Cabinet and Construction, at which Mary often helped with office management and bookkeeping. The business expanded to developments in California, Nevada, Washington and Hawaii, where they commuted for many years. After Val’s death in 1999, Mary returned from Hawaii to live again in the Foothills.
She was always especially proud of her 10 grandchildren, who, as youngsters, referred to her as “Grandma Cookie” because of her amazing baking skills. As the grandchildren grew older, they gave her the more “hip” moniker of “G-Mom” because she amazed them by staying current with computer technology beyond most others in her generation, and even had her own Facebook account until Alzheimer’s took its toll. She was best known for her Italian cooking. Almost every holiday meal was held in her home and included extended family and friends. Both Mary and Val had grown up in poverty during the Great Depression, and as their financial success in life continued, they always made sure that every child around them had enough to eat and would receive Christmas and birthday gifts.
Mary was a devout Catholic and a member of St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge.
She is survived by son Valentino (Nawana) Paniccia of Chatsworth; daughter Patti Paniccia (Jeff) Mailes of LCF; and daughter Laurie (Skip) Case of Hamilton, Montana.
She is also survived by grandchildren Rebecca (Mark) Christian of Bakersfield; Rachelle (Glenn) van Eekhout of Chatsworth; Valentino (Mona) Paniccia of Simi Valley; Kailikepaokamoana Lyman, Moanapuaaalaokalani (Uriah) Lyman-Redburg and Aleuikaimaikalani Lyman of Waialua, Hawaii; Alana and Malia Mailes of LCF; Jarrad Case of Hamilton, Montana; and by great-grandchildren Connor Christian; Grace, Emma, and Valentino Paniccia; Kalae and Kaena Lyman-Odam of Kapaa, Kauai; Kanai and Kaala Lyman-Redburg of Waialua; sister Dina Patton of Malibu; son-in-law Kimo Lyman of Waialua; grandson-in-law Caleb Lyman-Odam of Kapaa; sister-in-law Marlene Napoleon of Palmdale, and many nieces and nephews.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Valentino Paniccia; daughter Victoria Paniccia Lyman; granddaughter Kalaulimaopeleokekaipakalani Lyman-Odam; parents, Vittorio and Rosa Napoleon; brothers, Primo and Dominick Napoleon.
The family wishes to extend its deepest appreciation and gratitude to the staff at Aegis Living for the grace and loving care they surrounded her with during the last two years of her life; to Rosa Zapata, an angel who assisted the family with caring for her for five years prior to that; and to Dr. Jim Walstrom and his wife, nurse Mel Walstrom, for their attentive care and compassion.
A funeral service will be held at St. Bede on Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m. Mary will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband at Riverside National Cemetery.