Obituary: Marie Elena Ronzio Ardito
SCARBOROUGH – Marie Elena Ronzio Ardito, 87, of The Mooring, an assisted living in Scarborough and a former longtime resident of Augusta, Maine, died on May 11, 2021 in Scarborough after a brief illness and with her family by his side. She was born in Italy in August 1933, daughter of Eugenio Ronzio and Anna Leone Ronzio. Known affectionately as “Nonna”, she was the matriarch of a close-knit family she adored.
In 1939, at the age of six, Marie and her mother emigrated from Sant ‘Apollinare, Italy, to Providence, RI, where her father had previously moved. She and her family fled Italy before WWII devastated her birthplace. Although her parents never speak English, Marie blossomed in her new world and received the Anthony Medal for Academic Achievement at Mount Pleasant High School. She met her future husband, Ralph Ardito, by chance while in high school, and he was a sophomore at Providence College. It was love at first sight and they’ve been together ever since. In 1953, Marie and Ralph married a week after graduating from Providence; next month they would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. It is rare to see such a love story. Until the end, Ralph held her hand and called her his girlfriend and the love of his life.
Ralph was drafted into the military a week after their marriage and was sent to Austria to run an enlisted club. They had their first child while serving in Europe, but Ralph was able to send for his wife and newborn son, Ralph Jr, to live with him while completing his mission in Europe. Upon their return to the United States, Ralph accepted a position as Senior Auditor at the United States Department of Transportation in Augusta, Maine, where they had lived since 1961. Mary worked at home to raise her five children, Ralph, Eugene , Gregory, Ann Marie and Mark. True to her heritage, Marie was a fantastic cook, preparing all meals from scratch before it became fashionable. Its Italian dishes and pastries were the envy of all who have experienced them. Marie and Ralph added a second kitchen in their basement and added a large dining room to their home so they could regularly host family and friends to craft dinners that she and Ralph would prepare. Cooking fabulous food was their way of connecting with people who may not have had families and introducing new families to the community. Marie and Ralph have befriended families moving to Augusta from all over the world and from different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. They became the godfathers and godmothers of a child whose parents were from India; became mentors to a black family in Alabama; and has welcomed children from downtown Boston for several summers. With about a day’s notice, Marie and Ralph were asked to host a high school exchange student for an entire school year. Marie gladly accepted and Matteo became part of the family. Their bond became so strong that her parents even visited Ralph and Marie in Augusta, and they, in turn, visited them in Italy.
Anyone who met Marie would have immediately recognized her warmth and gentleness; she was known to reach out to both family and acquaintances, always with an endearing smile. Like her gentle and compassionate character, she was a model of his faith. She had a kind and empathetic soul who created a loving environment for her children and grandchildren. Often referred to as “holy” by members of her family, she cherished her life of faith and celebrated it with her family. Marie was like a mother to everyone she met and opened her house and kitchen to those who needed help or a good meal. There has never been a feast meal without someone joining them who had no family in the area.
In keeping with the theme of food and hospitality, Marie and Ralph opened the Ardito family restaurant in 1984, which they operated for thirteen years. They treated their customers as if they were dining at home. Because Ardito was located at the Augusta Airport, they met people from all over the world, including many celebrities who were vacationing in the area. Marie charmed Arnold Schwarzenegger as he was on the airport apron craving good food for his next destination. His desserts, in particular, were always in demand at the restaurant, on display as soon as the restaurant entered. The Christmas Eve dinners served seventy-five family and friends, and Mary organized all the gatherings with ease and grace.
According to his son Gene, one of his fondest memories was accompanying his mother to his hometown of Sant ‘Apollinare in October 2011 where they met his other son Mark for a week of harvesting and winemaking at the villa du cousin of Marie. In Italy, Marie was treated like a celebrity. They celebrated a week of fabulous food and delicious home made wines and lived as if they were part of the community. His story and presence resonated with everyone they met. The family was always the first with Marie. She deeply loved her husband, her children and grandchildren and their spouses, as well as her great-grandchildren.
Survivor is her 68-year-old husband Ralph W. Ardito of Scarborough; four sons: Ralph Ardito Jr. of Belgrade, Eugene Ardito of Portland, ME and his wife Barbara, Gregory Ardito of Augusta, and Mark Ardito and his wife Jenny of Belgrade; one daughter, Ann Smith and her husband David from Augusta. His grandchildren are Anthony of Cape Elizabeth, and his wife Katie, and their children, Vincent and Carolina; Elena Neuts of Cumberland, who lost her husband John unexpectedly last year, and their son Easton; Amelia from San Diego, California; Ava and Joseph from Belgrade.
The family would like to thank Dr. Karen Saylor, the nurses and staff at Compassus Hospice, and the nurses and staff at The Mooring for the extraordinary and loving care they have provided to Mary over the past year.
Family and friends may visit, as directed by the CDC, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 21, 2021, at Plummer Funeral Home, 16 Pleasant Street, Augusta. A Christian burial mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2021, at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 41 Western Ave., Augusta. Interment will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Manchester.
Condolences, stories and photos can be shared at http://www.plummerfh.com.