FRAMINGHAM – Catherine M. Finocchio, 90, formerly of Lincoln, Rhode Island and Framingham, Massachusetts, died June 30, 2021 at Saint Antoine Residence in North Smithfield, Rhode Island
Catherine’s upbeat and positive attitude, her FIERCE independence, her feisty and stubborn attitude – and her unbelievable sense of humor – kept the staff at Saint Antoine on their toes at all times. She LOVED the food at Saint Antoine, and was constantly praising the kitchen staff for their outstanding culinary skills. She also loved getting her hair done (wash, color & cut).
Catherine was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on April 13, 1931.
Growing up, Catherine moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, then to Galveston Texas, before finishing high school in Denver, Colorado. At a young age, Catherine was dealt the unexpected loss of her father, MaGruder Clower. Her grandmother, Josephine Bowman, lovingly stepped in to raise her in a loving home.
In high school, Catherine was also once a clothes model and told that she closely resembled actress Elizabeth Taylor (VAVOOM!). She was VERY fastidious about her appearance and would never go out without ALL of her makeup on, even though she repeatedly said “I just gotta put some lipstick on and then I’m all set” and two hours later, she was “all set.”
She used to play golf and tennis and ride her bike.
After high school, Catherine worked as a dress store clerk, a bookkeeper and then as a legal secretary for a law firm.
In 1951, Catherine met Anthony Finocchio in Sacramento, California. They married in 1952 and went on to move to the Northeast U.S. They had four children: Toni Kaye, Michael, Paula and Gina.
When Catherine wasn’t working, she loved being in her kitchen. She baked THE best brownies, and she didn’t bat an eyelash when her kids went to war over who would get the spatula and the beaters. Her chocolate chip cookies were legendary (uh, no names mentioned here but one of her children ALWAYS raided the ceramic pig on the counter, sneaking away with fistfuls of chocolate chip cookies and leaving the crumbs for the rest of us). Catherine’s homemade Italian sauce, which she perfected thanks to her mother-in-law Helen’s guidance, was spot-on divine and the perfect afternoon snack atop two slices of Wonder Bread while she screamed The “YOU’RE GOING TO RUIN YOUR DINNER Song at her kids.
Later in life, after a separation from her husband, Catherine moved into her own home-a townhouse in Rhode Island. She loved standing in the shallow end of the pool at her townhouse, or traveling to Miami to her son’s home and sitting poolside in the sun. She loved the ocean – walking the shores of Fenway Beach in Weekapaug, Rhode Island, hands on hips, decked out in her leopard print bathing suit, dipping her toes into the ocean, laughing into the wind and proclaiming “OK, that’s far enough for me.” She had a long-time dream of going back to Bermuda where she had once vacationed, where the ocean is a mix of cerulean blues and emerald greens. She loved the peace and serenity the ocean brought her but she wasn’t a big fan of beach sand (who is?!).
Catherine loved her birds and squirrels and had THE most well-fed wildlife in any backyard in Lincoln, Rhode Island. She was an incredibly giving person, always cooking homemade soup – or just cooking up something delicious – and always shared her culinary delights with neighbors. She had a secret crush on her handyman who was about 40 years her junior, and whom she claimed looked just like actor George Clooney (he really does!). Catherine learned to drive when she was 38 years old and was positively overjoyed when she got her driver’s license, although sometimes she left her “blinkah” on a helluva lot longer after she made a turn.
She was an avid reader and loved to sit in her green chair in her living room with her library books stacked beside her, or take catnaps in her rocking chair with her daughter Toni Kaye’s teal-colored crocheted blanket draped (fashionably) over her legs. She grew flowers and plants from nothing, painted old furniture bold colors, wore bold-colored clothing (everything had to match!), favored coral and pink nail polish colors because her nails and toenails always had to match. Her favorite perfumes were White Diamonds and White Linen, and she had a penchant for putting on hand on her hip when someone was talking to her or photographing her. And she photographed very, very well.
At home, she enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, bagels, salmon & cream cheese sandwiches, and always had a stash of candy hidden somewhere in her house. Catherine had two special friends in Lincoln, Rhode Island named Janet and May. The close-knit trio dubbed themselves “The Golden Girls” and painted Lincoln red more than a few times, and probably got into mischief even Catherine’s family didn’t know about. Eat your heart out, Betty White! She loved Davenport’s Restaurant in nearby Cumberland, RI, especially the calamari and had a penchant for asking for extra bread at a restaurant which she covertly wrapped in napkins and stuffed into her purse to take home for “her” birds and squirrels.
Some of her more well-known “Mom-isms” were “I’M FINE, I CAN DO IT MYSELF,” “Give me a huggah” and “GET OUTTA HERE” when someone dared to invade her space in her kitchen. When she was on the phone with one of her family members, she always ended the conversation by saying “I’m outta here, love you.” Catherine’s positive outlook through the worst of times enamored her to consistently dole out simple, philosophical advice: “Life goes on,” and “you just gotta roll with things.”
When Catherine was 81 years old, she attended her first-ever baseball game courtesy of the Pawtucket Red Sox. She sat through the full nine innings and even post-game fireworks like a champ. She learned all about the Boston Red Sox and even celebrated with the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.
Catherine survived COVID-19 in December, 2020, and quite accurately described it as “that goddamned virus.”
She loved old movies and westerns, and listening to her TV and radio at airplane engine decibel levels which gave her roommates fits and headaches and nearly causing recliner-chair clearing brawls.
Catherine didn’t think twice about telling people to SHUT UP when someone dared to talk over her, or to tell people IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS who she was talking to when she was on the phone. Catherine was hilariously opinionated, watched way, way too much CNN, had zero filters, and once told someone she had met for the first time that “he looked like he needed a bath.”
Another one of her amazing attributes (besides her uproariously funny sense of humor and sarcastic wit) was that Catherine could sing like nobody’s business. Her father was a musician and those rooted musical genes were passed down in Catherine’s family.
Catherine believed fiercely in guardian angels. She kept Hallmark Cards in business for decades because she NEVER forgot anyone’s birthday, anniversary, holidays, or just-because occasions. For her 90th birthday, she received more than 200 birthday cards from family, relatives, friends and strangers from Rhode Island to California. People wrote incredible kind words of encouragement and well-wishes in many of those birthday cards, and one sender even sent Catherine a watercolor painting of a lighthouse overlooking the ocean.
Catherine was pre-deceased by her daughter, Toni Kaye Finocchio Rousse, with whom Catherine has now joined to embark on a heavenly adventure aboard the Titanic. Catherine is survived by her son, Michael Finuccio and his wife Patricia Rosello, of Miami, Florida, her daughters Paula Mackenzi, of Sudbury, Massachusetts and her partner Derek Conserva, of Framingham, Massachusetts; and Gina Edwards, of Sydney, Australia. Catherine also leaves behind her five beloved grandchildren: Julia Shippee, Scott Rousse, Amana Finuccio, Andrea Finuccio, and Jake Mackenzi; and her cherished great-grandchildren: Amasa Fox and Maple Laurel.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 11 a.m. at Norton Funeral Home, 53 Beech Street, Framingham, Massachusetts.
Livestreaming of the service will also be available on the Norton website.
Flowers welcome because Catherine loved all flowers. Or, donations in Catherine’s name can be made to the amazing, kind, brave, loving and caring staff of the Special Care Unit at Saint Antoine Residence, 10 Rhode Avenue, North Smithfield, RI 02896.