Clara Cicogna Presutti was born May 7, 1925, in Ripa, Italy, as the ninth of ten children to Abele and Olympia Cicogna. She emigrated to the United States at age 9 on a steamer called the Saturnia. Her most memorable moments upon landing in America were seeing the Statue of Liberty and experiencing chewing gum for the first time.
Clara started the “Saints and Sinners” club at Bellaire High School, graduated in three years and was accepted into nurse’s training at Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glendale, WV. Following graduation, she was hired at Bellaire City Hospital. Clara married her high school sweetheart, Dom Presutti, (deceased Oct 13, 2020) at St. John’s Catholic Church, where Clara later became a Eucharistic minister.
She worked in many homes as a private duty nurse, oftentimes at end-of-life, while working summers as a sales associate and assistant treasurer at Ohio Fireworks, the family company co-owned by Dom.
Every Saturday, Clara’s four children would awaken to her gorgeous melodious voice singing Italian opera. She would be the first to fly anywhere in the US to nurse a family member or friend back to health. Clara was a natural born caretaker, genuinely concerned about the health of everyone she knew. As her children were growing, she taught hospital techniques at West Virginia Northern Community College and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio University
Clara and Dom were regulars at local auctions where they enjoyed collecting Imperial glassware and were active in the Imperial Glass Society of Bellaire. They were also active in a local bridge club and often hosted the club at their home. Clara served ten years as a 4-H advisor and volunteered to be the summer nurse at Piedmont Camp. After her children left home, she was hired by Bellaire City Schools as a school nurse and health teacher for 12 years until she and Dom retired.
Clara and Dom moved to Venice, Florida, in 1987, where Clara continued her work as a Eucharistic minister at Our Lady of Lourdes. She made rosaries to distribute to migrants and volunteered in an Alzheimer ward for 25 years, receiving many awards and accolades. At 85 years-old, she added “greeter at a senior center” to her volunteer activities. She also became a proficient china painter and exhibited her masterpieces.
Health required Clara and Dom to return to the Ohio Valley. Her extroverted personality proved invaluable in numerous performances at the Welty Home, where she would shine with her expertise at sign language and as a narrator and singer.
Everyone who knew Clara will remember her brilliant smile, her endless energy, and her infectious optimism. She told many, “You can do whatever you put your mind to!”
Clara died on March 4 in Wheeling, West Virginia, after being surrounded by many family members earlier in the day and after the rosary was recited.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Welty Home along with her caregivers: Ann, Becky, Beth, Bev, Bobbi, Darlene, Kathy, Leslie, Linda, Mary, Mary Ellen, Michelle, Nancy, Renee, Terri, and Toni.
Clara Presutti leaves behind four children: Terriann Presutti Bonfini (Chris) of Bellaire; Dr. Ron Presutti (Dana) of St. Clairsville; Michael Presutti (Alicia) of Oviedo, Florida; and Carolyn Presutti Davison (Rick) of Vienna, Virginia; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The family will be holding a private service at Bauknecht-Altmeyer Funeral Home in Bellaire. Friends and extended family can participate in a mass at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bellaire at 12 noon Saturday.
Share your thoughts and memories of Clara by going to www.bauknechtaltmeyer.com