November 18, 2013
Evelyn Insogna Riccio, 93, died in Charlottesville, Virginia on November 18, 2013 after an illness. She was in the company of family and her husband John, to whom she was married for 67 years. Her love for her family, passion for education, and openness to experiences are her legacy to her family and friends.
Mrs. Riccio was born in Amsterdam, N.Y., on October 23, 1920, the second child and only daughter of Cleonice and Marzio Insogna, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy.
After skipping two grades in school, Mrs. Riccio graduated from Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School in 1936 when she was 15 years old. Turning down her father's offer to pay her the cost of tuition rather than send her to college, Mrs. Riccio enrolled in the College of St. Rose in Albany, graduating at the age of 19. Inspired by her love of books, language, and learning, she began working as a librarian at the Amsterdam Free Library after graduation, a position she held until 1942. She moved on to serve as a school librarian at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School, during which time she earned a graduate degree in library science from SUNY, Albany, and met her husband John, a local teacher. After marrying, the pair continued to build careers in the local school district while raising two daughters. Mrs. Riccio went on to work as a librarian at Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School until becoming the Supervisor of Museum Education for the Greater Amsterdam School District in 1963. In that capacity, she organized and directed the Walter Elwood Museum's move to the former Guy Park Avenue School, and served as the new site's first director. She was also promoted to become the Supervisor of Media Services for the school district that same year, a position she held until her retirement in 1980. Grant applications she wrote during this time were successful in securing funding used to establish libraries in every elementary school in Amsterdam and to fund and staff the local Walter Ellwood Museum. In 1969, she obtained her third degree, a master's in education communications, also from SUNY, Albany.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Riccio sought out opportunities and experiences to continue and broaden her education and use her skills to benefit others. During both her career and in her retirement, she was involved with local and state organizations, serving as a consultant to the New York State Education Department, Bureau of School Libraries from 1966 to 1980, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Amsterdam Free Library and the Board of Directors of the Mohawk Valley Library System. Mrs. Riccio was also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Delta Epsilon Sigma, and the New York State Library Association.
Even through her later years, Mrs. Riccio found ways to keep her mind sharp, attending a seminar study at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, summer school at the New York State Historical Association Museum Education Program, and a number of Elderhostel educational sessions. She continued to be an avid reader of books and newspapers, enjoyed completing daily crossword puzzles, and interjected lines of Italian and French in conversation to make sure her memory stayed fresh. Her librarian skills in organization and creativity carried over to many things she did, from following the steps of her much loved recipes to sewing her grandchildren's Halloween costumes when they were young. Yet, she also defied the bookish stereotype, putting together fashionable outfits and making a fine appearance even through her last years. While she was focused on attaining goals that were important to her, she was always able to appreciate and enjoy life, whether it be watching a good play or film, playing a game of cards, or sharing a laugh with family and friends. In her retirement, she made time to travel, taking several trips to Italy to meet her parents' surviving family members and learn more about her own background and culture. She also traveled to Greece, Switzerland, Morocco and Mexico, among other countries, and was eager to share her joy about the world with her grandchildren, who accompanied her on several trips.
Mrs. Riccio forever praised and prioritized her immediate and extended family, with whom she was always eager to visit and communicate. She was predeceased by her parents and by her two brothers, Gino Insogna and Richard Insogna, and is survived by her devoted husband John. John and Evelyn had been lifelong residents of Amsterdam until they moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2010 to be close to their daughter. Mrs. Riccio is also survived by her two daughters: Lynne Fleming of Charlottesville, Va., and Jean West, of Portland, Maine. She was much loved and will be missed by her grandchildren: Mark Fleming, Nora Fleming, Meredith West, and Graham West, her brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, and by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Funeral services will be held on November 23, 2013 at 11at the Betz,Rossi & Bellinger Family Funeral Home, 171 Guy Park Avenue, Amsterdam, NY 12010. Rev. O. Robert DeMartinis as celebrant. Family and friends are invited to visit from 10am until 11am before the service at the funeral home.
Interment will be held in St. Michael's Cemetery in Amsterdam following the service.
In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to honor Mrs. Riccio's memory may make a donation to the Amsterdam Free Library, the Hospice of the Piedmont, Charlottesville, Virginia, http://www.hopva.org/ or to the charity of one's choice.
Please visit the family's online guestbook at www.brbsfuneral.com.