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Jennie Benedetto Volpe Obituary


Memories & Candles

“A prior message was posted on the wrong page. I wish to extend my deepest condolences to Ambassador and Mrs. Volpe's daughter and family. She did...Read More »
1 of 5 | Posted by: Ms. Havilah Diane Jean Iapalucci - PA

“Jean Roger and Family So sorry to hear about your mom's passing. She was a woman of "many hats" I am still finding the nails to prove so. Our...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: Colleen Quinn Sainato - Nahant, MA

“Dear Volpe Family: Please accept the sympathy of the Kelly Family from Stoneham. My parents, John and Peg Kelly, were very close friends of John...Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Maureen (Kelly) Maloney - MA

“I will truely miss my visits with Aunt Jennie.And i will think of her whenever i pass flowers for her love of flowers will allways stay with me.She...Read More »
4 of 5 | Posted by: Denise Devine - wakefield, MA

“JEAN AND ALL, wishes and prayers for your wonderful MOTHER....peace be with HER george sacco elaine golden sacco ”
5 of 5 | Posted by: george sacco - medford, MA


Jennie Benedetto Volpe, 98, the wife of late Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe, whose life took her from poverty in the mountains of rural Italy to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., has died. Mrs. Volpe died on Wednesday morning, peacefully and in her sleep, at the Lafayette Convalescent Home in Marblehead, of natural causes. She was attended by family throughout her final days. Known for her natural warmth and infectious laugh and a graciousness refined by three decades in politics and public life, Mrs. Volpe was born Giovannina Benedetto in 1912 in Pescosansonesco, Italy, in the mountainous eastern central Abruzzo region, the first daughter of Sante B. and Angelina Benedetto. She emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island in 1915 and later graduated from Wakefield High School, becoming a registered nurse at Winchester Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in New York City. During her husband's three-terms as Massachusetts Governor, 1960-1964 and 1966-1968, Mrs. Volpe worked to improve the quality of the state's mental-health facilities and she delivered numerous addresses on her husband's behalf on the campaign trail. She would accompany her husband to Washington, D.C. in 1969, when he became the country's first Secretary of Transportation and later to Rome, Italy, in 1973, when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Italy. Guests at Ambassador and Mrs. Volpe's Rome villa included prominent political figures and stars of Italian cinema. During Volpe's years at the State House, Mrs. Volpe became an amateur milliner, specializing in making hats that featured elaborate floral displays. Her lifelong fascination with flowers included taking up the Japanese art of sumi-e, a still-life painting style characterized by simple natural scenes and muted colors using an "ink and wash" technique - producing many accomplished works. She also studied Japanese flower arranging and was a vigorous gardener, with a love of roses, well into her later years, after she and Governor Volpe retired to Nahant, in 1978, following their four years in Rome. "My mother had a genuine love of life, of art and of people," said her daughter Jean Volpe Rotondi. "Being gracious came so naturally to her - it never felt forced but was always accompanied by genuine warmth and a twinkle in her eye." Mrs. Volpe is survived by her daughter, Jean Volpe Rotondi and her husband Roger, of Paris, France and Naples, Fla.; four grandchildren, Joy Rotondi of Marblehead, Rod Rotondi of Los Angeles, Calif., John Rotondi of Boston and James Rotondi of New York, N.Y.; and four great-grandchildren, Ian Rotondi-Gray, Isaiah Rotondi-Gray, Geneva Cann and Lilli Rotondi. Her husband, John, and her son John A. "Jack" Volpe Jr., predeceased her. Mrs. Volpe is the sister of Belinda Devine, of Wakefield. She also leaves many loving cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Visiting hours will be held on Monday, Jan. 17, from 4-8 p.m., at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield. Services will be held from the funeral home at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18, followed by a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. at St. Florence Church, 47 Butler Ave. in Wakefield.