Kathleen immediately connected with people, and they fell in love with her. Most of you know her as “Mama Kat” or “Grandma Luizzi.” One of her greatest joys was to make people happy. She was talented and loved creating gifts for others. Kathleen always carried jewelry she made herself to share with people she met, and she would donate her jewelry to fundraising events. Kathleen spent her time thinking of ways to help others. Her car was always filled with care packs for people in need. She loved animals and helped to rescue many dogs and cats.
Kathleen was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and she met the love of her life when she was 9 on Palm Sunday. She would talk about seeing Russell in his white suit and being enamored with him right away. They began going steady when she was 14, and they eloped to get married in Mexico when she was 17. They were very close with her family, and they all moved to different states several times before settling in San Diego where they raised their family. They had two daughters and became “Mom” and “Dad” to their daughters’ friends. They were very involved in their daughters’ school activities and events. Her daughters even had them attend their proms as chaperones. Her first granddaughter was born in 1992, and she became “Grandma” to all her friends. Her granddaughter and grandson-in-law asked her to officiate their wedding, which was one of the most special moments of her life.
Kathleen’s goal was to teach others to be kind and to have empathy. She would say “put yourself in their shoes” and try to understand how they feel. She selflessly took care of others. Whenever someone needed help, she would be there. Kathleen fiercely protected others and would stand up to anyone who was mistreating another person, even when she did not know them.
Kathleen was devastated when she lost her husband to cancer in 2002. She knew how much her family needed her, so she worked very hard to be okay to be there for all of us. She moved to Merced in 2004 with her daughters, son-in-law, and granddaughter. Another granddaughter was born in 2009 and a grandson was born in 2010, and she adored them.
Kathleen loved making every holiday and birthday special. She was a wonderful cook, baker, decorator, and party planner. Kathleen was the center of the family, with whom she enjoyed many cruises, trips, and special occasions.
On New Year’s Eve, Kathleen made a traditional meal for the family. A few days later, she began having pain. While she was in the hospital, her great grandson was born, and they played the song they play when babies leave the hospital twice to make sure she heard it. After much time in the hospital, it was discovered she had cancer. Kathleen fought hard to stay for her family, but despite her efforts, she could not beat the illness. She passed away at home surrounded by family.
Kathleen was incredibly close with her family and missed those she had lost. She was preceded in death by her husband, Russell; her mother and father, Margaret (Reid) and John Sparano; and her brothers, Robert and James Sparano. She is survived by her sister, Eleanor (David) Manger; her daughters, Jeanie (Daniel) Clifford and Kathleen (Creg) Todd; her granddaughters, Jeanie (Miguel) Lavizzi and Peggy Todd; her grandson, Russell Todd; her great grandson, Vincenzo Lavizzi; her brother-in-law, Marvin Rogers; and her many rescued fur babies. Kathleen has left a lasting impact on all she has known. She is the wind beneath our wings.
A private family memorial for Kathleen is planned. Because of her efforts to rescue pets, we ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to your local pet rescue in her honor.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kathleen Margaret Luizzi, please visit our floral store.