Anita Finkel

Aug 20, 1930 - Sept 11, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - LIFE TRIBUTES -

Our dear lov­ing, funny, stub­born, worldly mother and wife passed away af­ter a long ill­ness at home in Palo Alto sur­rounded by her boys, Joseph and David, and her hus­band, Stan­ley on Septem­ber 11, 2018.

Anita Zer­poli was born in 1930 in New York City. She was adopted at the age of two by Amelia Laspisa af­ter her birth mother died of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and her fa­ther aban­doned the fam­ily. She was raised in the Bronx dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion, WWII, and the im­me­di­ate post-war years. Anita at­tended Christo­pher Colum­bus High School in the Bronx and grad­u­ated in 1948. It was at Colum­bus High School that she first met her fu­ture hus­band Stan­ley. Anita left New York City in 1948 to at­tend the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan on schol­ar­ship. Although she vis­ited of­ten, she never again lived in New York City. In Ann Ar­bor, Anita again met Stan­ley and mar­ried him at the age of 20. Anita & Stan­ley were mar­ried for 68 years. Anita made friends at Michi­gan she re­mained close with for the rest of her life. She grad­u­ated in 1952 with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in English. Dur­ing col­lege she wrote plays, one of which was pro­duced at the uni­ver­sity.

Fol­low­ing col­lege she and Stan­ley lived in New Hamp­shire, Maine, Philadel­phia, Texas, and later West Ger­many. Dur­ing this time, she was a young mother & wife, while Stan­ley com­pleted his res­i­dency and later worked as a physi­cian in the United States Air Force. Anita taught English to West Ger­man Army en­listed men in Texas in the early 1960s. Af­ter 3 years of liv­ing in Bit­burg, West Ger­many, she and fam­ily re­turned to the United States in 1966. That sum­mer they moved to Palo Alto where she lived for the next 52 years.

Anita was a vo­ra­cious reader of lit­er­a­ture and a ded­i­cated stu­dent of lan­guage. Through­out her life she stud­ied and spoke Ger­man, Span­ish, and later Ital­ian. She par­tic­i­pated in Ger­man and Ital­ian con­ver­sa­tion groups for most of her adult life. She also en­joyed opera, bal­let and trav­el­ing. Anita and Stan­ley re­turned to Europe on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, pri­mar­ily to Eng­land, Italy, Ger­many, and France, of­ten vis­it­ing friends they had made on their pre­vi­ous trips.

Anita had a great sense of hu­mor and some amus­ing quirks as well. She avoided much that was mod­ern. It took many years for her to al­low a mi­crowave oven into her kitchen, she never owned a cell phone, pre­ferred to read rather than watch TV, and ques­tioned the ne­ces­sity of many mod­ern con­ve­niences. Her pen­chant for ob­sess­ing over the in­gre­di­ents listed on food la­bels, un­usual in the 60s, be­came nor­mal by the 90s. For many years, she was known to hand out raisins and ap­ples on Hal­loween, much to the ire of the neigh­bor­hood kids. Hav­ing grown up poor, she al­ways had com­pas­sion for the un­der­dog, and was a true “bleed­ing heart” lib­eral. Though raised Catholic she only rarely at­tended church, but when she did she would be­moan the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Latin mass, this de­spite the fact that her Latin was al­most non-ex­is­tent. She also loved the out­doors, worked for a pe­riod for a lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, and spent many a day vis­it­ing Foothill Park and Santa Cruz beaches with her chil­dren when both she and they were young.

Anita will be sorely missed. The fam­ily will hold a pri­vate cel­e­bra­tion of her life with friends and fam­ily in Sun­ny­vale.

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