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Maria Mufalli, 71, Sicilian-born seamstress

Aug. 19, 1946 - Sept. 24, 2017

Maria Minuti was sewing one day in 1963 on her porch balcony in Sicily when a vacationing American spotted her.

It was love at first sight.

Joseph Mufalli returned home to Buffalo but they exchanged letters, with Mr. Mufalli's mother helping her son with his poor Italian and translating her words.

Maria and Joseph married the following year, on April 25, in her native Santa Lucia del Mela and settled on Dewey Avenue in Buffalo. After arriving in a new country as a young newlywed, she went on to enjoy a life of making a home for her husband and three children, sewing and gardening.

Mrs. Mufalli, a long-time resident of Amherst, died Sunday at the Beechwood Continuing Care facility after several months of illness. She was 71.

She brought with her to America practical values of learning a trade, working hard and devotion to family. Her family believed in pursuing a trade instead of formal education, and she attended school to become a seamstress.

She made elaborate clothing such as dresses for her daughters and herself, as well as draperies usually from patterns she fabricated. Known as a perfectionist, she would spend hours correcting even the slightest sewing error.

"If she was doing some drapery and it was off by just a hair she would spend hours ripping the whole thing apart and redoing it to make it precise," said her son, Frank.

The Mufallis raised a family of achievers — one daughter is an otolaryngologist, another is a dentist and their son has a doctorate in engineering. Mrs. Mufalli had a strict but loving approach to raising her children while encouraging and taking great pride in their professional pursuits.

"She did not have a high level of education," Frank Mufalli said. "She didn't help us with our homework per se but she made sure the foundation was there to make sure we did very well."

One of her enjoyments was working alongside her husband in the family vegetable garden they shared for more than 50 years. The garden overtook the entirety of their suburban Amherst backyard.

In her lifetime, Mrs. Mufalli canned more than 6,000 jars of tomatoes that were handpicked from the family garden and were a staple of the family's Sunday dinners of lasagna, manicotti or ravioli made with homemade pasta.

"If you were to walk into our basement several years ago, you'd open these big cabinets and see an amount of tomato sauce equivalent to what you'd see at Wegmans," her son said.

In addition to her husband of 53 years and son, she is survived by her 93-year-old mother, Fortunata Cirino Minuti; a sister, Rina Minuti; daughters Philomena Behar and Nancy Mufalli; and five grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered Friday, Sept. 29, at St. Christopher Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Town of Tonawanda.

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