Maria, you were so beautiful. I remember some of our girl classmates were jealous of your beautiful face. I will always remember you my little angel friend. Rest in Peace.
-- (Joyce Peneschi, Friend - February 2009)
Maria was my best friend in school, she and I were in third grade, 4th grade and also 5th grade together in the same rooms. My sister Fran and I would meet her on our way to school, and on our way back home. We would also play together when we could. She was an only child. We'd sit together at Mass and have great times eating our lunch when at school.
Her dad and mother were a little older and I remember her dad going up and down the street sharpening knives for people. I believe this was his daily work. We would stop and go into her apartment and see her Ma always cooking up something good for the family to eat each evening. They didn't speak very good English but Maria would translate for us.
I did not realize she was gone until about 10 days later after the fire, I saw her picture in the paper that someone had left on a chair in the hospital. Along with the other children that had perished. I was very upset when I found out and no one would tell me anything until much later.
I was writing to her asking why she wasn't writing back, telling her about my day and asking her about hers. Her father had gone to our home shortly after the fire and my sister Fran was there, and she told me (many years later) that when Mr. De Giulio saw her he kept saying “Maria you have to come home now,” in broken English. My brother had to help him realize that it was my sister and with him not speaking not much English, it was very hard to explain and calm him down. My sister was very upset and didn't know what to say back to him to help him understand, as my sister looked similar only by their hair. Maria had long curly black hair, my sister had much lighter hair but also long like Maria's. When I go to Queen of Heaven cemetery, I go and pray at her grave site to her and think of her often. May God Bless you and Keep you in his arms.
-- (Johnna Bovenzo, Friend - February 2009)