The new coronavirus, COVID-19, has wiped out a generation of elders, loved ones who survived the Great Depression, World War II, and Great Recession, matriarchs and patriarchs of families across America.
At Times Publishing Group, Inc. we want to remember these lost loves.
Aurora Rufolo, 93
Education led to adventure
Aurora Justina Rufolo, née Falzone, lived a full and adventurous life, traveling the world with her husband and teaching English as a foreign language.
As a resident of Trade Winds Mobilehome Park in Capitola, she was in poor health when she succumbed to COVID-19 on December 16 at the age of 93.
Born in New York City on January 25, 1927, the daughter of Italian immigrants, she was the seventh of eight children who fell into the Great Depression just before the nation fell.
“From a young age she had to figure out how to take care of herself,” her daughter Melisa Walker of Soquel described her as extremely independent. “She did it through education … people of this generation, all they knew was work. They were ready to make that sacrifice and they were moving forward. “
Growing up, Aurora was considered intellectually precocious. She received a prestigious scholarship to attend a girls’ college in Manhattan, a school her family would otherwise not have been able to afford.
She then attended Wagner College on Staten Island, earned a master’s degree in nursing, and met her future husband, Daniel Antonio Rufolo.
They raised their family on Staten Island before moving west with two young daughters in 1956 so Daniel could teach physics and chemistry at the San Diego Public Schools. Aurora fell in love with La Jolla, which became her home forever, and her career revolved around education.
With California as their base, she and Daniel traveled the world with their daughters as teachers for international schools.
Aurora taught English as a foreign language and developed a curriculum to help students reach the top of their senior year. Daniel received Fulbright scholarships to Montserrat and Barbados in 1958 and to Izmir, Turkey in 1965, with their youngest daughter Allegra completing the family between these stays. They lived and taught in Rome, Singapore, Tokyo, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Trieste.
Aurora became very competent in creating a home abroad. She has never closed herself to new knowledge or experience.
She loved the opportunity to travel, learn about other cultures and make friends from other places. She passed on her love for travel and Italy to her family. Her eldest daughter Dana Rufolo-Horhager is the editor of a theater magazine in Europe and her two younger daughters followed her into class, Melisa Walker at the Mountain School in Soquel and Allegra Bortin at the Watsonville Charter School for the Arts.
After their retirement, Aurora and Daniel traveled on. At the age of 70 they went on a trip around the world. You never got tired of exploring new places.
In 2004, they moved closer to two of their daughters who lived in the Santa Cruz area. Daniel died in 2010 at the age of 85.
Daughter Allegra recalls her mother coming into her classroom at MacQuiddy School in Watsonville and teaching her students crafts – knitting, crocheting, six- and eight-point snowflakes, and six-point ojos de dios, the eye of God to watch over you .
Aurora adored Eleanor Roosevelt, who lived through the FDR era, and looked forward to seeing Hilary Clinton run for president. She was delighted to see Kamala Harris become the first woman to be elected Vice President.
Aurora was a feminist and a humanist.
“When you live abroad, your borders are very different,” said her daughter Melisa. “You have respect for all of humanity.”
She was fortunate that her mother, recovering from a hospital stay for an illness, was able to stay home for her last breath.
The hospice does not send helpers to COVID patients, so Aurora was quarantined with one of her daughters for the last nine days of her illness.
Aurora is survived by her daughters Dana Rufolo-Horhager (Axel) from Europe, Melisa Walker (Dean) from Soquel and Allegra Bortin (Bill) from La Selva Beach and loved seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren very much.
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