Corene Helen Carollo, 95, of Hermiston, Oregon died peacefully at her home on Thursday, April 25, 2019 with loving care provided by her extended family, a dedicated group of caregivers, and by the professional and caring support of Good Shepard Health Care System’s “Vange John Memorial Hospice” staff.
Corene was born on March 18, 1924 in Centerville, Iowa. She was the ninth of eleven children born to parents who immigrated to America from the small mountain village of Facen, Italy. Her father, Guiseppe “Joe” Pauletti came to America in 1907 and found lifetime employment as a miner in the Streepyville coal mines laboring underground with a pic and shovel. After he saved money for passage, Corene’s mother, Angela Pasqua (Bertelle) Pauletti, followed 3 years later with their infant daughter who died in route and was buried at sea. Corene was proud of her Italian heritage and she enjoyed a simple, rural, but rich and happy childhood in Centerville with all family members helping with gardening, canning and raising small farm animals to help provide food for the large family.
During WW II, Corene, with several of her sisters, worked at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois helping to supply munitions and arms for the war effort. There she met her future husband, Joseph “Joe” Carollo who was a machinist at the Arsenal. Family lore has it that they met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend who thought that their shared Italian heritage and Catholic faith might make for a good match. Joe, who was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan, was the second of eight children born of parents who also immigrated to America from small villages in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy in 1903-04. Although Corene always claimed that Joe was initially untruthful about his age when they met (he was14 years older), he was able to charm her and her parents enough that they had developed a strong bond when the war ended. Soon after the war, Joe came west to work at the Bremerton Navy Yard and Corene eventually followed and they were married in Seattle, WA on January 26, 1946. In 1947 Joe took a job at Grand Coulee Dam, Washington where their first three children were born and then, in 1952, moved to McNary, Oregon where Joe worked as a machinist at McNary Dam until his retirement. The last 2 of Corene’s 5 children were born after the move to Oregon. After her husband’s death in 1989, Corene continued to live in McNary until 1995 when she moved to Hermiston to be closer to her children.
Corene was a ‘housewife’ most of her adult life; the matriarch of the family running the daily affairs of the home, managing the kids, making sure that children’s chores and outside jobs were performed and often measuring out needed discipline. She and Joe both worked hard at being the best parents they could be and in turn expected their children to be responsible and accept work outside the home. She had many talents and hobbies including gardening, various crafts, crocheting and was an accomplished seamstress; sewing or helping others sew many of the shirts, dresses, blouses and even wedding dresses and a sports coat for herself or her sons, daughters and friends. Perhaps her greatest skill though was cooking; providing 2-3 wholesome, home cooked meals per day for 7 family members. It seemed she was always cooking for either family or visitors – including family friends, priests and bishops - who always exclaimed their delight in the ‘Italian’ dinners that they enjoyed at Corene’s table. For some of us, the comforting memory of the smells from her homemade yeast breads and doughnuts will never leave us.
Upon Joe’s retirement, Corene decided that it was her turn to work outside the home, taking a job for a few years at Lamb Weston trimming potatoes for processing. She really enjoyed the work, the friendships she made and having money that she earned. She was a lifelong and devoted member of the Catholic Church and participated in many church ministries through the years, including years as a volunteer at the Catholic Church Soup Kitchen and at Hermiston’s Agape House.
But Corene’s greatest passion in life was her family. She dearly missed her family in Iowa but embraced with unconditional love the family she and Joe gave life to in Oregon. Although she expected everyone to do the right thing and not bring dishonor to the family, when missteps or misfortune came to family members she forgave and re-embraced with love and forgiveness. She often professed unwillingness or the inability to do certain things but showed remarkable adaptability to do those things when necessary. For instance, when Joe required renal hemodialysis to sustain his life, she trained to serve as his nurse and performed home dialysis for him for 5 years, until his death in 1989; and, although she had a serious fear of flying her whole life, she did fly once, at the age of 80, because she wanted to attend the graduation from medical school of a grandson. Corene felt so fortunate to have her sons and daughters marry good mates and dearly loved her sons in law and daughters in law. But, the most cherished of her family were her 18 wonderful grandchildren and her 35 (and counting) great grandchildren. They were the light of her life and, more than anything else, sustained her and gave her the most unbridled joy especially in her last years.
Corene was preceded in death by her husband, parents, 4 sisters, and 4 brothers. She is survived by daughters Kathy Eldrige (Steve) and Gina Wicks (Richard) and sons Tony Carollo (Joyce) and Bob Carollo (Ruth) all of Hermiston, Oregon and son Jim Carollo (Signe) of Damascus, Oregon; 18 grandchildren; 35 great grandchildren; sisters Edie Ronzani and Albena Brown both of Davenport, Iowa.
Services celebrating Corene’s life will be held on Friday, May 3, at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, Hermiston, Oregon: Recitation of the Rosary at 3 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial at 3:30 p.m. Burial will follow at the Hermiston Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in Corene’s memory to Catholic Daughters c/o Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, PO Box 289, Hermiston OR 97838.
Please leave online memories/condolences for Corene’s family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in charge of arrangements.