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“…and so I’m offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two…” It is altogether fitting that Norma Jean Scarpitti, 93 of Jackson Township, Ohio, lived the words of her favorite holiday tune: “The Christmas Song” by choosing to spend her Christmases from one to ninety-two with us and this next one with her sweetheart in Heaven.
Born Norma Jean Masiella on November 2, 1929 in Akron, Ohio, she was the youngest of six children born to Rocco and Emelia Masiella (who immigrated to the United States from Bari, Italy in the early years of the last century). Norma was well-known in Akron in the 1930s and ‘40s as a local ballet and tap-dancing prodigy. She was the top female student for many years at the Adeline Ott-Lahrmer School of Dance in Akron. After graduating from Akron North High School in 1947, she left for New York City and achieved her dream of becoming a professional ballerina by earning a spot on the famous Radio City Music Hall Corps de Ballet.
After her time in the Big Apple, Norma returned to Akron to teach dance at her former school and later purchased it –maintaining its place as the premier dance academy in Northeast Ohio during the 1950s and ‘60s. In 1956 she married the love of her life, Anthony Vincent Scarpitti, who like Norma, grew up on North Hill as a first-generation Italian-American. Norma and Anthony welcomed their first child, Vincent Anthony in 1961. Vince, like his mother, had a gift for rhythm and followed in her artistic footsteps to become a well-known professional drummer.
After hanging up her ballet slippers and selling the dance school, Norma began a successful office management and bookkeeping career where she ran the offices of the Merchandise Mart in Cleveland, Ohio and several car dealerships in Massillon, Ohio. In 1970, Norma, Anthony, and Vince moved to Perry Township, Ohio, where in 1973, Norma defied the odds again, giving birth to Mark Joseph, despite being in her early 40s – a rarity at that time.
Norma made a wonderful and loving home for “her boys,” and kept Harp, Vinnie, and Markie in line and wrapped in unconditional love. Norma was a treasured friend and source of love, support, and guidance to many women and men who suffered with spouses and partners battling addiction. Meanwhile, Norma and her “honey” spent their retirement years traveling the world as happy wandering empty nesters.
In 1989, Vince provided Norma with her first grandchild, Anthony Vincent; Emily Nicole followed in 1992. Mark then gave her John Vincent and Matthew Brian in 2003 and 2007. She was especially close to her grandchildren and even worked with John on a book: “Grammy’s Stories” to memorialize some of the funny and momentous moments of her life.
Norma was so many things to so many people: she was Princess, Mom, Grammy, Mimi, and of course, Aunt Normie. Above all, however, she was Christmas. From 1956 to 2003, Christmas at Aunt Normie and Uncle Harp’s was a two-day festival of love, food, and family. With rented chairs, tables, cots, and couches, chaos, cocktails, and games, Christmas just wasn’t Christmas unless it was twenty cousins sleeping on the floor and eating surf and turf at Aunt Normie’s!
Norma will spend this Christmas in Heaven with her parents, Rocco and Emilia Masiella, her brother Frank Masiella (Clara), sisters: Lucia Piscazzi (Rocco), Angela Policy (William), Jennie DiFrangia (Joseph), Mary Cull (William), and her darling, Anthony, whom she hasn’t seen since February 11, 2021. She leaves her sons Vincent (Missy) of Barberton, Ohio, and Mark (Penni) of Braselton, Georgia, her grandchildren, Tony (Breanna), Emily Teague (Canyon), John, and Matthew, along with tons of loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends to fend for themselves this Christmas without her. Norma would want everyone reading this to think of her this year and know she’d want to say “… although it’s been said many times, many ways: Merry Christmas to you!” Merry Christmas, Mommy. We miss you.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 am Thursday at St. Anthony Church, 83 Mosser Pl. Akron. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. Friends will be received from 4 to 7 pm Wednesday at Hennessy Funeral Home (corner of York and Main) 552 N. Main St. Akron.