Magdalena 'Magda' Holochwost, 94
'Magda' settled in Barrington after many years of moving around with a husband in the military; a memorial service is scheduled for Jan. 2.
Magdalena Gabrielle (Cariaggi) Holochwost, known as Magda by friends, passed away on Dec. 23, 2012. She was 94.
She was known by many names in addition to Magda -- mother by her children Peggy Mello and Elizabeth and Gregory Holochwost; Grandma Maggie by Emily and, her namesake, Maggie Mello, Maura and her late husband, Tom O'Brien, and William and George Holochwost. Her great granddaughter, Georgia Obrien affectionately called her Nonna. She also leaves a son-in-law, Fred Mello, and daughter-in-law Patricia Holochwost.
The importance of family and friendship were defining ideals in Magda’s life. She was born in Milan, Italy, in 1918. At age 10, she and her brother, Gus, moved to New York with no knowledge of the English language.
They came with only one parent, Augusto Manfredi Cariaggi, their mother having passed shortly after Magda’s birth. Always longing for belonging, Magda was brought to tears when she found at 86 that she was in fact all along an American, learning that her mother Bessie Hyams was a Jewish Opera singer whose hometown was Chicago prior to moving to Italy.
Magda loved to put together an outfit, and only stopped wearing high-heel shoes in the final few years of her life. As an adolescent, her clothes were modest compared to her classmates who would say, “Who needs fancy clothes with a personality like Magda Cariaggi’s?”
This effervescence and ability to adapt in her formative years readied Magda for a lifetime of making friends from all walks of life. She picked up languages with ease as she navigated new cities across three continents as the wife of an Army officer, Lt. Col. George Holochwost, whom she married in New York City in 1940.
A consummate hostess, she entertained neighbors and diplomats in Cameroon, Germany, and the U.S. with grace. She saw every person as having a purpose in making life meaningful and each person she met felt immediately valued by her.
Moving over 27 times in less than 30 years, Magda was an integral part of each community in which she lived, including Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX; Schwäbisch Gmünd, Ramstein and Bitburg, Germany; and Monterey, California. After many years of travel, Magda’s family moved to their final and cherished home of Barrington. There she was a member of Saint Luke’s Church and the Barrington Women’s Club. She enjoyed meeting new people while working at the local stores, Cherry and Webb and Crossed Sabers. Always restless, Magda’s activities included bowling and golf, in addition to her excellent bridge game.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Luke's Church, Barrington, at 10 am on Jan. 2. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Barrington Preservation Society, P.O. Box 178, Barrington, RI 02806 or TAP-IN, 281 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806.
Visit smithmason.com for on-line condolences