Elizabeth “Bette” Katherine Piraccini, 94, of Mishawaka, died peacefully after 7 years of care in her home, on December 17, 2021. Bette was born September 30, 1927 in Massena, New York to the late Anna (Trimboli) Catanzarite and Anthony Catanzarite. After meeting at one of the two local Italian clubs founded by their fathers, and waiting for Alfio to return after serving in the Korean War, Bette married Alfio V. Piraccini at St. Monica’s church in Mishawaka on October 25, 1952. Bette was preceded in death by her husband Alfio, her parents, brother Ross Catanzarite, Joe Catanzarite, brother-in-law Alsvero Piraccini, sister-in-law Alba Daly, and sister-in-law Mary Catanzarite. Surviving are her four children: Lisa (Donald) Squibb Jr. of Elkhart Indiana, John (Jayne) Piraccini of Mishawaka, Aldino (Carmen) Piraccini of Vandalia Michigan, and Gina Piraccini of South Bend. Additional surviving family members include Paula Bopp of St. Joseph Michigan, brother Frank (Kay) Catanzarite and niece JoAnn Neely. Also surviving are 14 Grandchildren; Sabrina Squibb, Jennifer (Brett) White, Melina (Erik) Sample, Travis Squibb, Cameo (Walt Weise) Piraccini, John Piraccini II, Brandon Piraccini, Nathaniel Piraccini, Anthony Piraccini, Dominic Piraccini, Luke Piraccini, Ryan Piraccini, Regan Cast, and Brennan Cast, as well as 5 great grandchildren Arabelle White, Sydney (Matt) Shine, Calabria Sample, Lorenza Weise, and Ayla Piraccini. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews that enjoyed her wonderful cooking and sense of humor.
A stranger would be impressed that Bette was once the executive secretary for Raymond Lowey, the designer of the Studebaker. Although this was a proud share for her, and her family, she found the job “boring” and chose to move on. She became a mother and then years later a grandmother. As a mother, she volunteered in our schools, and provided whatever support was needed whether it was a moment of listening or just sharing one of her delicious Italian dishes. While our father worked multiple jobs outside the home, Mom found ways to manage the active needs of her children, despite not driving and Dad working multiple jobs in those early family days.
Our mother did not have the retirement pins, accolades, or the history of promotions of which to brag upon; however, she did produce a legacy of moments that were hidden behind those that did in fact carry such honors. While the children in her family, no matter where they fell on the tree, enjoyed her humor, gentle ear, supportive gestures, and impressive dance moves, they swarmed before her and without saying so became what she had so quietly encouraged to be. Without raising a voice, without demanding a rule, she created family dinners on the weekends, holidays with homemade food that spoiled us all into viewing this as normalcy until we looked beyond our family doorstep. Her sly and quick-witted bantering, most notably with our father, taught us to think on our feet, come in with a smart word, and to sometimes allow the words of others to “go in one ear and out the other” or to just “not pay attention” to others when the words did not serve us. She asked for little, but gave so much more, even in her final years after the passing of her Alfio and the increasing presence of Alzheimer’s. With this reality our mother always welcomed the new faces that so kindly and lovingly cared for her. She complained of nothing and needed only the company of her “helpers” and the love and attention of her family. Despite all that her days could have been, she spent them happily working jigsaw puzzles, word searches and never ceased to amaze others with her crossword puzzle and Wheel of Fortune skills. In those final days, while watching her favorite musicals on T.V., one could still catch her smiling, pointing, mouthing the words to the music and occasionally joining in on a little shoulder dancing. The family has found great peace in knowing that she is once again with those cherished friends and family that have passed before her. She is enjoying her sweets, dancing the jitterbug, and happily gliding across the dance floor with her Alfio as Paul Simon’s voice serenades them “..If you’ll be my bodyguard I’ll be your long lost pal. I can call you Bette and you can call me AL…”
The family would like to express their deepest gratitude to our mother’s “friend” Collin for his excellent nursing care, and to Bette’s Happy Helpers: Sarah and Chiawa, Debbie, Sarah, Madison, Becky, Carla, Angie, Cathy, Angela, Janice and Crystal; Your care for our mother, whether long or short was valued, appreciated and touching to watch. We could not have done this without you. We know our mother enjoyed those moments with you, and like us, will forever be caring for you as we cared for her.
Friends may visit with the family from 6:30-8:00pm on Monday, December 20, in Hahn Funeral Home, 505 W. 8th Street, Mishawaka. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11am on Tuesday, December 21, in Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 4508 Vistula Rd, Mishawaka, IN 46544, with one hour of visitation prior at the church.
In lieu of flowers the family welcomes donations in the name of Bette to a cancer or Alzheimer charity of your choice or the St. Vincent de Paul Society. To leave the family an online condolence www.hahnfuneralhomes.com.