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Emily Angelina (Biasin) Berrena

March 7, 1922 ~ February 20, 2018 (age 95)


Emily Angelina (Biasin) Berrena died peacefully at home in Holyoke, MA on Tuesday, February 20, 2018.  She was born in South Deerfield, MA, where her parents were the owners of the South Deerfield Fruit Company and where she had many wonderful childhood memories.  She was the daughter of Umberto and Gina (Arrighi) Biasin.  Her father was a World War I Veteran.  In 1933 she moved with her family back to Fornaci di Barga, Italy.  Emily graduated from the Instituto Magistrale in Barga where she began a teaching career.  Emily lived through many of the horrors of the Second World War in Italy, surviving aerial bombardments, gunfire, and having German SS troops occupy her family’s home.  Because of her ability to speak English, Emily was recruited by the local Italian partisans in Barga to assist in the rescue of a Royal Air Force pilot who was in hiding in Sommacolonia and was safely returned to Allied lines.  In 1945 she worked as an interpreter for the American Red Cross in Loppia and later served with her sister Jenny at the Rest Camp with the 473rd. Infantry Division in Pisa where she met General Mark Clark.  In 1946 she married Roberto Berrena and returned to the United States where she stayed with her maternal aunt and uncle, Tony and Ersilia Lucchesi in Holyoke.  She worked at local businesses Mazzolini’s, the PO Spa, and the Phoenix.  In 1951 she purchased Ann’s Dairy Bar and opened Emily’s and Jenny’s Luncheonette, which was the “hangout” for numerous Holyoke High school and Junior College students for many years.  She and her sister were co-owners until 1960 when her husband Roberto became co-owner.  They sold the business and retired in 1983.  They relocated to Weston, Florida in 1988 where Emily enjoyed the company of her family and working in her parish church St. Bonaventure.  After living in Florida for many years, Emily returned to Holyoke where she was active in teaching Italian to friends, cooking for her family and friends, traveling back and forth to Florida, and involved in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.  She was a member of the Italian Society, the women’s auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, in 1973 she served on the Holyoke Centennial Commission, and in 2007 was recognized by the Poquoson, VA American Legion Post 273 for her services in the American Red Cross.  The two most important things in her life were her faith and her family.  Emily was predeceased by her husband of 47 years Roberto Berrena in 1992, her sister and best friend Jenny McKenna in 1996, and her granddaughter Jenny Berrena in 2017.  She is survived by her five sons, Robert and Kathleen of Williamsburg, John and Charlene of Westfield, Paul and Valarie of Florida, Louis and Peggy of Yorktown, Virginia, and Richard of Holyoke.  She also leaves her grandchildren, Robert Berrena, Greg Denys, Alex Denys, Anthony, Emilia, Schatzi, Gina, Timothy, Taylor, and Jake, her great-grandchildren, Emilia Marie Berrena, Allison Berrena, Paisley Emily Berrena, Hudson Berrena, Nicole Giroldo, and Julian Bedoya, and her nephew and nieces, Stephen McKenna, Maureen Ferriani, Gina Kneski, Louise McKenna, and Maria McKenna.  Calling hours will be held at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton Street on Monday February 26 from 4:00 to 7:00pm. Funeral and burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, 300 5th Avenue, Suite 6, Waltham, MA  02451-8750 or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 9 Erie Dr, Natick, MA 01760

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