Mafalda A. Von, 104, crossed over into her new life on Saturday, March 12, 2022. She was surrounded by the love of her family and her dog Emma
Mafalda was born on April 29, 1917, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was a survivor of two global pandemics, the Korean War, World War II, and the Great Depression.
A lifelong independent thinker, she was a woman way ahead of her time. She was a proud graduate of Dickinson High School which she attended despite her parent’s opposition. She played center on the school’s basketball team.
Mafalda loved Nursing and graduated as a R.N. from the Medical Center Nursing School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Mafalda’s parents were so opposed to her becoming a nurse that they refused to attend their own daughter’s graduation. She enjoyed nursing in all its forms. She was a Trauma Nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. When Physicians were conscripted during WW II, she rode ambulances in New York City’s worst neighborhoods often accompanied by a Policeman and a gun.
She loved babies and eventually became a labor and delivery Nurse alongside her longtime associate Dr. Ippolito. Dr. Ippolito often commented that Mafalda had the “best hands” and was better at delivering babies than his own physician son. He extorted Mafalda to go to Medical School (and to marry his son) but she remained devoted to nursing believing that it was really nursing that had the most contact with patients. Following her graduation from nursing school Mafalda did what was unheard of in those days. She moved out of her parent’s house in Jersey City and moved to New York City where she got her own apartment. She loved New York City and all it had to offer. She passed that love onto her youngest daughter Judith. While living in New York City Mafalda met and married her husband of 57 years Cornelius M. Von, of Connecticut. Together they explored New York City. In those days marrying outside of one’s ethnic group was frowned upon, and Mafalda was practically disowned by her parents for marrying a Hungarian when she was of the Italian descent. Mafalda and Cornelius both enjoyed “Big Band” music and she especially enjoyed Frank Sinatra. They continued to “cut a rug” as long as they were physically able. Cornelius suffered a serious car accident at the age of 40 which forever impacted his ability to work. Mafalda again did the impossible. She worked three jobs to support her three daughters and paid for all of them to receive a college education thanks to her extreme sacrifices.
At an advanced age, Mafalda herself returned to college at Jersey City State and received a Bachelor of Science degree. This was long before going back to school was fashionable. Mafalda was a strong advocate for public health. She eventually made public health the focus of her career and after returning to New Jersey established a free immunization clinic in Jersey City, a baby keep-well station for the care of mother and their infants and was instrumental in starting the WIC program. She was a founding member of the first Union for nurses in Jersey City because she was a long-time advocate for nursing rights, feeling that their contributions were often underappreciated and underpaid.
Mafalda was intelligent, articulate and wise beyond her years. She was witty with a wicked sense of humor and always brave despite all the adversity she faced. She was generous, even to those who did not deserve it and never bitter despite coming from a very difficult family.
The world is a much sadder and drearier place without her. Her legacy lives on in all the lives she has touched with her love, wit and wisdom.
She is predeceased by her husband Cornelius M. Von, her parent’s Raphael and Antionette Basile.
She is survived by her three children Therese Von, Lucy Ann Serwetz and Judith M. Von; her grandsons, Justin (Jessica) Serwetz and Trent Serwetz; and her great-granddaughter Kaia.
Special thanks go to special friends Diane Bailey, Bill Schandall and Matilda, Dan and Thalia Townsend. Thanks to Marie Donnely for staying overnight when Mafalda was in the hospital. A special shout out to her long-term partner in crime Sister Mary Cyril and to all the friends and neighbors who enjoyed partying with her over the years. A thank you to the whole team at Amedisys Hospice especially nurse Jennifer Perry and her aide Jourdan Beecher. Krystal Musselman was Mafalda’s favorite caretaker and deserves notice for conscientious care. Jessica Perry was both a friend and housekeeper who maintained sanity and organization.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm at McAlister-Smith Funeral Home, 1520 Rifle Range Road, Mt. Pleasant. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Christ Our King Catholic Church, burial will follow in Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to McALISTER-SMITH FUNERAL & CREMATION, Mt. Pleasant, 1520 Rifle Range Rd., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464, (843) 884-3833.