IRON MOUNTAIN – Mafalda (Muff) Daley, of Iron Mountain, entered in to God’s loving care on Nov. 12, 2013, at age 98.
Mafalda was born to the late Dominic and Theresa (Spera) Gasbarro on Sept. 12, 1915. She was the fourth child and oldest girl in an Italian immigrant family of nine children. Her childhood was a mixture of hard work and complete mischief – a strong theme throughout her life. Cooking, cleaning, gardening and translating for her parents were relieved by backyard “circuses” (how our uncles wound up with their lifelong nicknames), trips to the lake, and roller skating.
We are all thankful for one particular trip to the roller rink where she met Cornelius “Irish” Daley, “a boy from Illinois,” who was working with the CCCs in Florence, Wis. Muff and Irish married on Sept. 11, 1937. To say that someone is the love of your life barely describes these two. They were loyal friends and partners to each other until Irish preceded her in death on Feb. 14, 2002.
“Gaelic and garlic” combined to create a tremendous legacy.
Together, they had two children – Lori (James) Hirn and John (Nancy) Daley. They had five grandchildren: Melissa Hirn, James Hirn Jr., Rebecca (John) Haase, Lora Daley, and Patrick (Amy) Daley, and 10 great-grandchildren, Anna, Lora, Sara and Paul “Tony” Haupt, Andrew, Jacob and Lucas Haase, Claire Daley-Jacobsen, Madison and Bella Daley. As Mom, Grandma, Nonna she loved each and every one with a fierce loyalty and joyful pride.
Muff knew how to make anyone feel welcome. The get-togethers at her modest home on the North Side included plenty of good food, friends, family, laughter and love. Nobody left 9 North Milwaukee Court without a full belly, a full heart and sometimes – when you had it coming – an earful.
This spirit of hospitality was surely the key to Muff and Irish’s success as the owners of Irish’s Bar, known for its spectacular Italian food in the dining room and Irish whiskey at the bar. It was a source of pride for her grandchildren, years after Muff and Irish retired, to hear that our Nonna’s food was the best Italian food our friends, neighbors and teachers ever had.
We will remember our mother and grandmother as a woman with the strongest will and the softest heart. She could cook, sew and knit anything. She could make fun out of thin air: card games, picnics, trips to Lake Antoine with our fishing poles and swimsuits. She told the funniest stories and jokes. You could never escape her house with just one kiss.
Muff was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend who always seemed to have what her loved ones needed. A seat at her table, a soft lap and a rocking chair if you weren’t feeling well, a bed to sleep in, her fullest vote of confidence that you could face the task at hand, but mostly, love. Always love.
Muff was blessed to be survived by all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as one very devoted nephew, Terry Melelli. Her loving and devoted surviving sister, Caroline Hansen was able to comfort Muff in her last hours. She was preceded in death by one sister, Jennie Melelli; and six brothers, Alfred, Fiore “Coxy,” Armond “Toto,” Sam, Octavio “David/Jumbo,” and Joseph “Peggy” Gasbarro.
A celebration of Mafalda’s life will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church and Hall, where she was a lifelong member. The memorial Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Condolences to the family can be expressed online at www.ernashfuneralhome.com
In lieu of flowers, a memorial will be established in her memory.
The family has entrusted the Erickson Rochon & Nash funeral home with these arrangements.