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Philomena Aquino
Viewing: April 24, 2017 (Monday) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Service: April 25, 2017 (Tuesday) at 10:00 a.m.
Location: St. Ann Catholic Church

Philomena Zappi Aquino 


Died peacefully at her home in Washington on April 20, 2017 at the age of 102. She was a teacher in the Youngstown, Ohio and Washington, D.C. school systems, a D.C. resident for 76 years and the mother of five children, grandmother of eight and great grandmother of seven. She was born in 1914 in Youngstown, the daughter of Benilda Tamburrino and Pasquale Zappi, who came to America from Roccaraso, Italy. Pasquale was a musician and inventor. After his death in the influenza epidemic of 1918, the company he worked for took over his patent for fireproofing safes without compensation to his family. Benilda married Thomas Pavone, whose wife had also died in the influenza epidemic. Philomena, who spoke Italian before she spoke English, worked her way through college, earning a B.A. in English from Mount Union College in 1934 after having had the school’s leading academic average four years in a row. She earned an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and began teaching English literature and language in the Youngstown public schools. When she was assigned to teach drama as well, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to take classes from Leo Brady at the Catholic University School of Drama during the summer of 1941. While in Washington, she met Sylvester Aquino, an attorney, on a tennis court. They married in October, she retired from teaching, and they lived in Northwest Washington with their growing family. 

In 1962, she resumed teaching English in the D.C. Public Schools, including Cardozo, Banneker and Western, when her husband became ill. Sylvester died in 1968. Philomena earned credits for an A.B.D. (enough for a doctoral degree, lacking a dissertation) and became a guidance counselor at Western, working there through its transition to become the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She retired from the school system in 1979 but continued to teach when assignments became available, eventually volunteering to teach English as a second language in private schools.

 She was predeceased by her husband Sylvester; her son James; her brother Sam Zappi; and her sisters Mary (Pavone) Lucurell, Edith (Pavone) Mosco, and Josephine (Pavone) Sylvester. She is survived by her children Joan Dattillo (Dave), Jean Pascucci (Robert), John T.  Aquino (Deborah Curren-Aquino), and Jerome Aquino (Sylvia Montalvo Aquino); her brother Pat Pavone and her sisters-in-laws Stacey Pavone and Barbara Zappi. She was always there for her children, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, godchildren and many, many students, helping, teaching, and sharing her wisdom. When asked for the secret to her longevity, Philomena said, “You have to go with the flow.” We will always love her and will always miss her.
riends may call at the DeVol Funeral Home, 2222 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC 20007 on Monday, April 24 from 6-8 PM (Complimentary Valet Parking will be available).  Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Ann Catholic Church, 4001 Yuma St NW, Washington, DC  20016, on Tuesday, April 25 at 10 AM.  Interment will immediately follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to either the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., or St. Jude’s Children Hospital.  

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