Cover photo for Mary R Zagaglia's Obituary
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1920 Mary 2024

Mary R Zagaglia

November 14, 1920 — February 15, 2024

It is with the heaviest of hearts that the family of Mary Zagaglia announce her passing on February 15th, 2024. Mary's brilliant life began on November 14th, 1920, born to Isabel and Henry Rogers (Rodrigues) in their home on Waites Wharf, Newport, RI. Her beloved parents arrived in this country via New Bedford MA from the Azores of Portugal. As a child, Mary attended a 1-room schoolhouse in Portsmouth, RI which still stands today. Mary lived and worked on farms in Portsmouth and Middletown into her twenties, through the Great Depression and WWII. She enjoyed spending time at Easton's Beach, taking walks, reading, and going to dances with friends.

She met her future husband, Peter Zagaglia, at one of those dances after the war in 1946. One year later, they were married at St. Joseph's Church of Newport, having their breakfast reception at Cliff Walk Manor, with further celebrations held at Fenner Hall. Mary & Peter purchased their first home in Newport, living on Warner Street with their first 3 daughters, Rita, Linda, and Claire. In 1955, they would move to Middletown on Vanicek Avenue, and Mary gave birth to their youngest, Anita, in 1958. Mary & Peter were quite a team, working together at The Moorings Restaurant on Saturday nights. Peter was their full-time bartender; Mary would assist patrons as a hat-check girl. Mary always had a flair for beauty and fashion, dressed to the nines - no outfit would be complete without her signature red nail polish.

After just over 20 years of marriage, the unexpected death of Peter came in 1968 to stomach cancer, leaving Mom a widow at 48 with 4 daughters to raise. During all this, Mary was involved in St. Lucy's Church, volunteering while working full-time as well as being part of the parents' groups at St. Lucy's School. The Catholic Daughters of America was a passion for her, she was their Regent for many years. With this, Mary was involved with the Junior Catholic Daughters where all 4 of her daughters were part of. And yet, she always found time for her bowling league once a week at Hi-Way Bowl, continuing with the group through the 1980s! In the 1960s, Mary worked in roles relating to cooking and caretaking in some of the most beautiful estates on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. She also worked at Middletown High School, in the kitchen, while her older daughters attended school there.

In the mid-1970s she began working at Transcom Electronics, where she would eventually retire. Even after retiring, Mary enjoyed keeping busy, and would go back to work part-time for a few more years working at a restaurant in Middletown. Besides bowling, she was always active and walking, or tending her garden. Throughout the decades, she stayed in touch with friends, antiqued, attended senior center trips, and visited her sisters-in-law and her daughters. She enjoyed taking photographs of all her adventures and would carefully note them in her library of photo albums. When she did take a moment to sit still, she would enjoy cutting newspaper clippings, sharing recipes, doing puzzles, crocheting, or knitting, writing her daily journals, on a phone call, and reading a novel.

Mom would eventually sell the house on Vanicek and buy a mobile home in Portsmouth that she adored on Scotty Drive. She loved her space, decorating it and tending to her flowers and plants, and would enjoy drop-in visits with her family for coffee and tea, and whatever she conjured up on the stove. Even her fabulous chourico didn't compare to her meatballs, which are our absolute favorite, and have yet to be replicated.

With Linda working for TWA, Mom was able to enjoy her other big passion -- traveling the world. She would of course visit family and friends, but no place was too far to experience for her, and she even rode a camel in Egypt! Mary remained independent, traveling by air into her late eighties, driving and living on her own until her late nineties. Even though she would have some short-term lapses in memory - she was able to recall and revel in her memories of "The Island" like it was yesterday. The more you would talk with her, the more she would love every minute she could share with you. She moved into John Clarke Nursing Center in 2019 where she lived until her passing. She enjoyed many activities that she always loved to do -- walking, gardening, reading, working on puzzles, playing bingo, and being a social butterfly with her fellow residents and the beloved staff at John Clarke.

But, her best times, she would tell you, are those of raising her daughters, Rita, Claire, Linda, and Anita. Being with them, their children, and now her children's children, has afforded her so many wonderful years as "Mom" and "Vorvor", with unending amounts of love and respect. It has been our blessing that she would share her profound knowledge of life with all of us while remaining humble and open to new experiences. If there is any part of this obituary that could stick with you, and to honor Mary's life -- travel and see the world, drink a glass of brandy, laugh, enjoy, and love the people around you, remain positive in life, be faithful, and always, always, be kind and giving to all.

Our family would like to extend the highest and most sincere gratitude and praise to the incredible and compassionate staff of John Clarke Nursing Center for their wonderful skill, extraordinary care and love given to Mary during her time there.

Mary was predeceased by her parents and siblings, George Rogers, Henry Rogers and Evelyn LaPrise, Lara Rogers, and Joseph Rogers. She is survived by her 4 daughters, Rita "Rea" Zagaglia (Frank), Claire Taylor (George), Linda Zagaglia-Gutierrez (Cisco) and Anita "Nete" Ellis (Stephen), along with her grandchildren, John Marshall, Travis Taylor, Tristen Taylor, Trina Beebe, Trent Taylor and Jessica "Jessi" Ellis, step-granddaughter, Theresa "Resa" Davén, her great-grandchildren, Noble Marshall, Andrew Taylor, and Maddison Taylor, her step great-grandchildren, Elsa Davén, Aiden Davén, and Leo Davén.

To join our family in celebrating her life, please join us during Visiting Hours on Thursday, February 22, 2024, from 4:00-7:00 pm at Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, February 23, 2024, at St. Lucy's Church, 909 West Main Rd., Middletown at 10:00 am. Burial will follow at St. Columba Catholic Cemetery, 465 Brown's Ln., Middletown.
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In lieu of flowers, please donate to John Clarke Senior Living or a charity of your choice.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary R Zagaglia, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, February 22, 2024

4:00 - 7:00 pm

Memorial Funeral Home

375 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

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Friday, February 23, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am

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