Pearl Madeline (Del Bene) Russo passed away on Dec. 10 at the age of 92. She was the 13th of 14 children born to Fedele and Anna Del Bene on Jan. 24, 1927 in the North End of Boston. Her father was killed in an auto accident in September of 1928, leaving her widowed mother to raise their family through the Great Depression and WWII. She graduated from Girls High School in 1945 and went to work at Lerner’s Department store earning $17.46 for her first full week of work. She left the department store to take a position with the Boston Federal Reserve Bank and later worked as a diamond buyer for Turco’s Jewelry Store.
She married John in 1962 and started their life together in California after their June 27 wedding. In 1972 they moved to Villa Park and have lived there since. Pearl’s home was her castle, and she enjoyed nothing more than entertaining family and friends. There was always a celebration or holiday to plan and baking to be done.
While her primary job was mom and wife, Pearl was an active member in the Santa Ana College Faculty Wives Association (1962-1975) and the Sons of Italy Renaissance Lodge. In addition to being room mom for her kids while they attended Villa Park Elementary and Cerro Villa Middle School, she worked three seasons at Albert & James Photography Studio in Orange. She was often known to head to Ralph’s for a couple of items and return hours later after chatting in the aisles with friends from VP. Pearl enjoyed traveling back east and across the oceans to Australia, Japan and Europe to visit family and make new friends. Cruises to Mexico and Alaska kept her busy when she wasn’t enjoying a card game or a bit of time at the casino.
While the past few years were filled with trips to the hospital and unbearable pain, she persevered and kept going. It wasn’t a good day unless she had accomplished something, and that something was usually doing for others.
Pearl is survived by her husband John; daughter Madeline Grant (and Ronnie); son John Jr. (and Sandra); the three reasons she fought every day to live, her grandsons John, Joseph and Jacob; her older brother Mario Del Bene (San Marcos, Calif.) and older sister Mary Morteo (Framingham, Mass.).