Leontine “Tene” Tomasetti passed away Saturday, January 13, 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina
Tene was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 18, 1916. She adored her family: her mother, father and her four brothers, and they loved her. She was so close to her mother and would often say, “I wish Mama was here. She would know the right thing to do and the right thing to say. She was the wisest person I ever knew”.
She met her husband to be, Mario Tomasetti, on a blind date. Mario had graduated from Yale with a master’s degree in engineering in 1932. The depression left few jobs for engineers, but he found a job in Tupelo as the Commandant of the Tupelo Military Academy. After a 2-month courtship, Tene and Mario were married on December 18,1936. They were married for 59 years until his death in 1996.
Mario soon began to work for the Mississippi Highway Dept. and in 1941 he was called to work for the Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. They moved to New Rochelle, NY and later to Greenwich, CT.
Tene was a homemaker throughout her adult life. She enjoyed raising her children and decorating, gardening and volunteering.
Much of Mario's work was overseas. Once her children were raised, Tene accompanied Mario on many of his international trips affording her the opportunity to sight see and meet several world dignitaries.
Tene attended five First Lady Luncheons hosted by The Congressional Woman’s Club in honor of Nancy Regan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.
Tene filled eight passports during these world travels. She climbed the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Statue of Liberty. Tene saw the sunrise over Mt. Everest, rode a bullet train in Tokyo and witnessed the Berlin Wall when it was standing and the first day after it was torn down. Tene, with her friend, Skip Hartung, traveled by train from Israel to India where she rode on an elephant and visited the Taj Mahal. Tene and Mario lived abroad in Argentina, Israel and Jordan before returning to the United States.
When Mario retired at 72 his memory began to fail. Tene gallantly and steadfastly cared for him throughout every step of his Alzheimer’s journey. She enrolled him in a study at Sloan Kettering and drove him to New York City once a week, every week, for a year hoping and praying for a cure. Finally, the social worker there said, Mrs. Tomasetti, it is time for your daughter to find a nursing home for Mario. They moved to Raleigh, NC where a nursing home was found. For the next 4 years, Tene drove every day from Raleigh to the nursing home in Durham to visit him and insure that he was properly cared for.
At age 79, she built a new home. It had to be pink brick with white mortar, arched windows and a curved staircase from the front door. Mario and Tene had dreamed of spending time in Italy after his retirement. It was not to be. So, she planted 40 Italian Cypress trees in the yard to bring a little bit of Italy to Raleigh. Here, with the Cypress trees and her rose garden, Tene found a comfortable place to call home.
Her travels brought her joy in what she saw: in the beauty of nature and what man had made. It also brought an understanding and compassion for the down trodden that does not make the news.
She could laugh until tears came rolling down her cheeks. Her wit was amazing! She always focused on the positive and the future.
Her 108th birthday was to be a wonderful celebration at Abbotswood. The celebration included an Elvis impersonator. Tene felt a bond with Elvis as he too was from Tupelo. Tene’s message to all at the conclusion of the celebration was to be: “May your holidays and birthdays bring a smile to your face, happiness to your hearts and many blessings to your life.” Unfortunately, Tene passed four days before the event.
Tene is survived by her two children: daughter Mary Ann Greenoe, and son David Clayton Tomasetti and his wife of 51 years, Patricia Kornrumpf Tomasetti; four grandchildren: Mary's son Steven Neal Greenoe and David's children: Matthew William Tomasetti (wife Brittany), Mark David Tomasetti (wife Lina) and Kimberly Wilson Havey (husband Bern), ten great grandchildren, three great great grandchildren and many loved nieces and nephews.
We are thankful for her loving caregivers in her last years, Bernadette Tucker at home; Brittany Fonseca, Linda Brown, Melinda Gillespie, Kezia Peterson, Deborah Peterson, Kimberlyn Etheridge, Anastasia Brown, Nicole Wright and the staff at Abbotswood Retirement Home.
In lieu of flowers donations may be given to the Alzheimer’s Association or the charity of your choice.