Ann Ellen Capodanno

Honored by:Moira Ann Sullivan
Brick location:D:18  map

Somerville, MA January 4, 1932 -

The following comments are those of Ms. Capodanno's five children:

As a parent of five children through the 1970's and 80's, my mother's greatest challenge was to continue to build her own sense of worth while educating her kids toward becoming full members of society. As a woman, that time period was one where mothers made the first move to challenge parental role types. Sandwiched between a generation of mothers who did not seek more than homemaking; and our generation where fathers are finally experimenting with that option, it was a powerful education for kids during the formative teenage years to see and not just hear that gender should not be a restriction in life. Although at first it might seem that my sisters benefited most from our mothers demonstration, I would argue that as a man, a husband, and a father, I have been better prepared for my various roles in life than had my mother not chosen to be the woman that she is.

My mother led by example and by design. In our house there existed none of the conventional divisions of labor between the sexes. Children were encouraged in pursuits, which emphasized achievement and above all independence. Standards and aspirations were high. As a passionate advocate of her beliefs, my mother engaged our minds and compelled us to speak out against injustices. Without avoiding responsibility for her family, my mother followed her own course even when it wasn't entirely clear. Her ideas about the relationship that should exist between parents and children seemed to echo those of the educator Angelo Patri who said, "You are entitled to one life - your own. Live it, start the children on their way, and then plunge back into your own again". The fact that my mother managed to escape the fate of so many women who sacrificed individual ambitions to the family claim is a testament to her strength of character. And it is in this intensity to make her own existence count that I have found my life's direction. My mother is truly a heroine in the best spirit of Carrie Chapmen Catt and a woman for whom my admiration and respect grows by the day.

Mom has lived a life of tremendous balance. Her life is an example to women everywhere of one woman's ability to welcome, enjoy, and balance tremendous commitment and responsibility throughout her life. She has maintained a mature growth-oriented love relationship with her husband for more than thirty years; she had raised a loving family of five children; and she had maintained a career that has spanned four decades and as many fields of work. Most significant, perhaps, she has orchestrated these demands while maintaining her own identity and sense of individual self-worth. She is a role model for women in an age of confusion and vague boundaries for female gender identity. Her strength, endurance, and sense of humor is surpassed only by her ability to give and her ability to love. Mom's life is representative of everything that is good in the world. She is a bird of rare beauty, grace, and presence whose contribution is understood by all who have had the privilege to be a part of her live.

Dear mum, thank you for my roots that have provided a secure base of knowledge and love from which I may explore my dreams. Thank you for my wings made of confidence, leadership, and independence. My personal and professional goals in life have been more attainable not only because of the strength of my roots and wings that you gave me, but because you always lead by example. I have more love and respect for you than I will ever be able to express in my lifetime and ask only that you take personal pride in my accomplishments for I have learned from you. I love you, Neil Raymond.

In our household there was a mood of gender equality, beginning with both parents and expected of each of the five children, whether male or female. I was not taught but shown by example that as a female I had the ability and the right to pursue whatever interested me. Throughout my childhood I watched as my mother stood strong, enlightened others, and voiced unabashedly her beliefs in every woman's right to independent thought and action regardless of situation. Mum continues to be a role model for me as well as for countless other women whose lives she has touched. Love you, Gianna