A loving friend to all

WAKEFIELD — Catherine Veronica Alemi Palmerino of Wakefield passed away on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, at the age of 85. She was surrounded by her family, with her beloved and cherished husband, Al, as she was welcomed into heaven.

Catherine was known throughout her life as a person everyone loved to be around. She had boundless energy and a smile that lit up a room. She gave her time to others while she gave of herself, and she had the gift of making people feel that they mattered.

Along with her devoted husband of almost 61 years, Catherine is survived by her six children: Alfred A. Palmerino, Jr., of Woodland Hills, Calif.; Catherine Palmerino Levitan and her husband, Robert, of Van Nuys, Calif.; Stephen P. Palmerino and his wife, Donna, of Wilmington; David J. Palmerino and his wife, Amy, of Billerica; daughter Carolyn Palmerino Elliott of Stoneham, whose late husband, Peter Elliott, was there at heaven’s gate to greet his mother-in-law with an enormous bear hug; and Cara M. Palmerino of Stoneham.

“Nana” was adored by her 11 grandchildren, celebrating every small and large event in their lives with them. She is already deeply missed by Christopher, Danielle, and Kevin Palmerino of Wilmington; Peter, Bobby, and Allison Levitan of Van Nuys, Calif.; Nicolas, Luke, Joshua, Abigail, and Benjamin Palmerino of Billerica; and her four-legged Labrador grand-dog Leo.

Nana had special relationships with each of her grandchildren and found endless joy in being with them, attending innumerable sports games and birthday parties, babysitting, and hosting sleepovers. She often Face-Timed and Zoomed with her grandchildren from Los Angeles (she was a very tech-savvy grandparent!), as she always remained a central part of their lives.

Born on April 22, 1936, Catherine was the only child of the late Peter and Elizabeth (Murphy) Alemi and the goddaughter of the late Winifred (Murphy) Regan. Her parents taught her to value her faith in God and her love for people, while encouraging her to always look for the best in everyone. She created many happy memories during times spent with her parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She remained close to her cousins’ children throughout her life, as she became a surrogate mother to her cousin Ann’s children upon the passing of her cherished cousin.

Raised in Brighton, she attended the Mary Frances School of Elocution and St. Aidan’s Elementary School in Brookline, skipping a grade early on. Catherine graduated from Girls’ Latin School in Dorchester in 1953 and graduated from Regis College in Weston in 1957 with a major in dietetics and a minor in chemistry. During summers, she served as a camp counselor to campers from underprivileged families. She loved the experience, which set the stage for her successful teaching career that embodied a genuine connection to her students. Her additional work experiences included positions at the post office, R.H. Stearns, and Dun & Bradstreet in Boston. After college and a family move to Milton, Catherine was hired as a registered dietician and teacher at the Soldiers’ Home and Quigley Memorial Hospital in Chelsea, which began her lifelong profession as a nutritionist and educator. It was here that Catherine met the love of her life, Al Palmerino, remarking that he was smart, had a beautiful smile, and was very kind. Thus began the unparalleled love story of Al and Cath, who cherished and lived for each other, building their family on a legacy of love.

Catherine resumed her teaching career when the youngest of her “Brady Bunch” entered school. Serving as an educator in the Wakefield Public School System, she taught Home Economics and Nutrition at Wakefield High School; she also taught a special class called “Bachelor Living” to high school seniors, where she offered instruction on cooking, sewing, needlepoint, financial management, and independent living. She was affectionately known as “Ma P.” to her students and stayed in touch with many throughout her life. With her background in chemistry, Catherine later was asked to teach science at the sixth grade level and move to the Atwell School (now the Galvin Middle School). Her class was a favorite with students, as she found creative and ingenious ways to interest them in science, such as harvesting honey from a beehive and raising guinea pigs in class. She also introduced Voyage of the Mimi and Nature’s Classroom, an experiential field trip program

Catherine was an avid reader and loved poetry, having composed the Class Poem for her college graduating class. She loved movies and was a fan of cable TV’s streaming services; she was quite adept at navigating multiple remotes! Growing up, she developed a love of musicals from attending many with her mother. She was inspired to take up piano lessons at the age of 69, so she could experience the joy of making music along with her children and husband, an accomplished pianist. She enjoyed cooking and had a great talent for it, creating food extravaganzas for birthdays and holidays. Along with knitting, sewing, and needlepoint, she also enjoyed doing jigsaw and crossword puzzles and word games (she was very good at them!).

Catherine’s lifelong enthusiasm for traveling was sparked in 1960 with a cruise to London and throughout Europe on the original Queen Mary ship with her lifelong friend Helen. She and Al later traveled to countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, and throughout the U.S. and Canada. They were very grateful for the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet new people. Favorite experiences included their trips to England, Ireland, and Italy, where they visited the homelands of their parents and grandparents.

Catherine’s world was centered around God and her family. She was a deeply devoted Christian who lived the word of God each day through her actions; by giving love to everyone she saw and everything she did, her life was an invitation for us to grow closer to God and one another. In recent years, she served as Vice Chairman of the Parish Council at St. Agnes Parish in Reading and also volunteered as a lector, Eucharistic Minister, and head of the Peace and Justice Committee. She led many Bible studies over the years and was an active prayer warrior for those in need. She and her family became members of Ave Maria Parish in Lynnfield when her daughter Cara became a cantor at church Masses.

Special family memories included summer vacations on Keoka Lake in Waterford, Maine, where Catherine enjoyed canoe rides, swimming, and time spent with her family playing games and listening to music by a log fire. The family dogs were her beloved companions over the years; believing that a dog would be a wonderful addition to the family (which it was), she brought a Labrador puppy into a busy household of six children. Over the years, she also welcomed a golden retriever and two Welsh corgis.

Catherine was a fan of Boston sports, especially the Red Sox, nurtured from her days of attending games at Boston College and Boston Garden with her parents. She loved watching the Olympics and learning about each host city’s culture, and she enjoyed attending figure-skating competitions and Bruins games with her daughters.

Catherine always believed very strongly in the golden rule of treating others as she wished to be treated. Her wish was for a world of peace, love, and acceptance, where all would be treated equally and allowed to worship God freely. Her constant displays of courage, grace, and humor taught us to appreciate our blessings and look for the good in others.

Showing immense courage in her battle with pancreatic cancer, Catherine endured surgeries, treatments, and two clinical trials that she chose to enter in pursuit of an effective treatment. She never once complained. She has continued to make it possible for research teams to study her data and tissue samples, so they can use this critical information to help save the lives of others. She exemplified generosity, selflessness, perseverance, and a will to fight.

While we have lost an exceptional wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, colleague, and friend, heaven is rejoicing in welcoming home a truly magnificent soul. We take comfort in knowing how many lives Catherine touched with her compassion and generosity of spirit. She inspired us with her immeasurable courage and strength. She forever will be cherished for the enormous love she shared and the love she encouraged us to spread to friends and strangers alike. She will be remembered always for her kindness and for how she made each of us feel – that we were important to her and to God. We are eternally grateful that our lives have been blessed with a wife and mother who was truly extraordinary in every sense to her family. She will remain alive in our hearts, minds, and souls forever.

Her funeral mass will be celebrated in St. Maria Goretti Church, 112 Chestnut St., Lynnfield on Tuesday, April 5 at 11 a.m. Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Monday, April 4 from 4 – 8 p.m. Interment, Forest Glade Cemetery, Wakefield.