Eulogy: Lorraine Marion Miceli Martini (July 10, 1929-June 12, 2020)

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Lorraine M. Martini, aka Lorry-Mother-Mumsey, surrounded by her loving family celebrating her 90th birthday, Rancho Carlsbad, California, July 2019. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

The following is the eulogy for Lorraine M. Martini, written by Stephen K. Peeples and read by Veronica J. Peeples on July 9, 2020:

Lorraine Marion Martini, a devout Roman Catholic, devoted wife, and loving mother who raised four daughters and helped raise half a dozen grandchildren, passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, in Oceanside, California, on Friday, June 12, 2020.

Though she always said a real lady never reveals her age, Lorraine was 90 years young. Tomorrow, July 10, is the 91st anniversary of her birth.

Known to her friends less formally as Lorry, her daughters as “Mother” and grand- and great-grandkids as “Mumsey,” Lorraine was the beloved matriarch of a large immediate and even larger extended family. They loved her as much if not more than she loved them, if that were possible.

Without spoiling them – well, not too much, anyway – Lorry was always there for her daughters and grandchildren when they needed advice or help, with at least a kind word of support, and occasionally with more tangible assistance.

But there was never any question that Lorry was the center of the Martinis’ universe; everyone and everything else orbited around her. And for her, everything revolved around her faith.

“Our mother was a devout Catholic and went to Catholic schools almost all her life,” Cheri said. “She got married in the Church and raised all of us to be Catholic; we had our communions, our confirmations. She believed in the Lord and prayed all the time.”

Lorry was a Carlsbad resident and faithful parishioner at St. Patrick’s Church for 26 years.

“She would have to be really, really sick to miss Mass,” Cheri said. “I think just once, she had the flu so bad, she couldn’t get out of bed. That was the only way she would have ever missed Mass.”

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Lorraine M. Martini, known to her friends as Lorry, her daughters as “Mother” and her grandchildren as “Mumsey,” Mother’s Day 2016. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Early Years & Marriage

Lorry’s father, Vito Miceli, was just barely in his teens when he arrived at Ellis Island in New York from Italy in 1907 to begin a new life in the United States.

He settled at first in Pennsylvania to work in the coal mines. Eventually settling in the Chicago area, Vito met and married 23-year-old Antonia Belice in 1923.

The sweethearts were both in the confections industry for many years; he was a supervisor at the Sawyer Biscuit Company and a cookie-maker at Nabisco, while Antonia was employed at a chocolate factory as an artisan candy decorator.

Lorraine Marion Miceli was Vito and Antonia’s first-born, coming into the world at Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago on July 10, 1929. Her brother Rodger Joseph Miceli followed on January 10, 1931. For the next 86 years, the siblings were nearly inseparable.

Lorraine attended St. Mary’s Mont Carmel Catholic School through the 8th grade, then took business classes at Jones Commercial High School, where she graduated in 1947.

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She was 18 ½ years old when she met a young Navy veteran named Lawrence Martini, at a dance at St. Leo’s High School. Nicknamed Larry, he’d been a radio operator during World War II.

Lorry and Larry clicked as a couple. Aside from their alliterative nicknames, they had much in common: Both came from large Catholic families of first-and second generation immigrants (hers Italian and his German-Irish-French) who had resided in the Chicago area for generations.

Their first date was a movie, and after that, they liked to go dancing, to the movies, and out to dinner.

They courted for two and a half years before marrying at St. Mary’s on June 10, 1950, surrounded by their parents and extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and longtime friends.

After honeymooning in New Orleans and Florida, Lorry and Larry returned to Chicago to begin their life together. Their first home was at 7604 Marshfield Avenue.

Larry was back in the Navy by the time their first daughter, Cheri, was born on March 23, 1951, during the Korean War, which went on from mid-1950 till mid-1953. (Coincidentally, Lorraine’s brother Rodger served in the Navy from January 1950 to January 1952).

Returning to civilian life in Chicago, Larry secured a route as a milkman, then began a long career as an insurance agent with Prudential. Lorry, meanwhile, dedicated her next decade to full-time motherhood.

Their second daughter, Marcie, was born November 3, 1952, then René on January 30, 1954, and finally Nadine on February 26, 1956, with a move to a larger home at 7856 Hamilton Avenue along the way.

By 1964, with her daughters in elementary and junior high school, and backup at home from her mother and aunts, Lorry was ready to join the workforce, working as a sales associate at Bernard’s department store.

Visit to Hollywood: ‘We’re Moving to California!’

In summer 1966, Lorry and Larry and their four daughters – then ranging in age from 10 to 15 – traveled by train from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit her brother Rodger, who had moved to L.A. two years earlier, and go to Disneyland.

“Mother told us that if we wanted to go to Disneyland, we had to make some money,” Cheri said. “She was always into arts and crafts and sewing, so she and Grandma offered to crochet these little hats that you put over the extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom – they were called ‘tissue toppers’ – and we could sell them.

“We kids went around to all the neighbors, found out what color and style they wanted, then bring the order back to Mother and Grandma, and they would crochet them,” she said. “I don’t remember how much we sold them for, but we made enough to pay for our trip to Disneyland.”

The girls had a couple other small revenue streams as well to cover extra expenses.

“Dad would also pay us to pick dandelions from the yard,” Marcie said. “He’d give us a penny for each one, but we’d have to get the root.”

“And Marcie used to just pick the tops,” Cheri said.

The family’s Dirty Word bank also helped fund the trip: “When you said a swear word, you had to put a quarter in the jar,” Cheri said.

The West Coast adventure proved to be a major turning point in the lives of the lifelong Midwesterners.

“We all fell in love with California,” Cheri said. “Mother said, ‘That’s it! I’ve had it with the snow and the cold weather. We’re moving to California!’”

On the train back to Chicago, the couple began plotting the family’s move. Back home, Lorry’s mom and dad, Vito and Antonia, the family’s patriarch and matriarch, decided to move to L.A., too.

They all conspired with Rodger, then a successful cosmetologist who owned the house at 2145 Hollyridge Loop, off Bronson Avenue above Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. He rented it to the Martini family and found another home nearby.

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The red-roofed house just left and below center is 2145 Hollyridge Loop. From Google Maps. Fun fact: The house inside the loop with the tennis court was once owned by Chuck Berry, who in the mid-’70s bought 2145 from Rodger for an assistant.

The family spent the early part of 1967 packing up belongings at the house on Hamilton. That summer, after school was out for the daughters and the moving van was headed west, the family jumped into their white 1961 Chevy Impala four-door sedan and drove the 2,000 miles from Chicago to L.A.

Following historic Route 66, the week-long trip was an epic journey, and not without incident.

One night, the family rolled into a small town late, with no motel reservation. All the nice motels were full, so they wound up checking into a dump. Lorry was, in a word, displeased.

But it got worse. A roach attacked Nadine in her sleep. Lorry and the girls freaked out and retreated to the car for the rest of the night. Larry, wiped out from driving all day, didn’t budge from the bed until morning, bugs or no bugs.

Later, as the Martinis drove through the endless desert, the sun was so intense the girls had to line the Chevy’s big rear window with aluminum foil, or get cooked.When the heat and boredom got too intense, Larry would pull the car off the road and they’d all have a water balloon fight.

Hollywood & Burbank Years

Soon after the Martinis rolled into Hollywood and onto Hollyridge Loop, Antonia and Vito flew in from Chicago, bringing Babette, the family poodle, to make it a three-generation migration to California.

Larry continued his career as a Prudential insurance agent. Lorry leveraged her department store experience at Bernard’s to land a plum job at the prestigious Broadway Hollywood department store at Hollywood and Vine, as a sales associate in the cosmetics department.

Cheri, Marcie, René and Nadine, meanwhile, ages 11 to 16 by then, were four hands-full for the pair of hard-working parents, even with help from the grandparents.

It’s safe to say now, with all statutes of limitations having expired long ago, that the girls engaged in their fair share of mischief and misadventures – as one might expect of relatively innocent semi-urban Chicago kids transplanted to Hollywood, in the middle of the Summer of Love 1967, no less.

In 1968, Lorry left The Broadway to join Security Pacific National Bank in Hollywood as a loan officer, beginning a long and rewarding career that lasted until she retired almost two decades later.

Larry, meanwhile, in addition to selling insurance, drove a taxi and picked up whatever odd jobs he could do, legally, to help support his family.

After about a year and a half at Hollyridge Loop, the family moved to an apartment on Tamarind in Hollywood, walking distance from Rodger’s house.

“By then we were all going to Bellarmine-Jefferson High School on Olive in Burbank,” Cheri said. “Mother wanted us to attend Catholic schools, and that was the closest co-ed Catholic school. We had to take two buses each way every day to get there. So, the next year, 1970, we rented a house on Clark Street in Burbank much closer to school.”

Lorry idolized her father; her daughters loved to hear Grandpa Vito’s stories of his childhood in Italy.

Vito and Antonia were still living at the Hollyridge Loop house when he died in spring 1973, at the age of 78. Devastated by his loss, Antonia moved in with her daughter and granddaughters in Burbank.

Glendale: The Cordova Years

In 1974, Larry, Lorry, the girls and Antonia moved to a beautiful two-story Spanish-style home on Cordova Avenue, in the foothills of suburban Glendale. It had plenty of room for the family and assorted pets including Babette.

Rodger, meanwhile, had switched careers to become a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and moved from Hollywood to Glendale, so once again he and his sister lived just a few minutes apart.

They also maintained close ties with relatives back in Chicago, who would occasionally visit, like Lorry’s Aunts Minnie and Tessie (Antonia’s sisters), Evelyn Bianco (Tessie’s daughter) and Cousin Arlene Minder (Evelyn’s daughter).

They’d usually come in the winter to escape the blizzards.

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The girls continued to test their parents, naturally. And Larry, Lorry and Antonia did their best to provide a formidable fortress of virtuosity to protect the girls as they came of age and eventually married.

As any of their husbands will attest, courting a Martini girl also involved courting their mother. And her sisters. If they didn’t approve, or if the guy couldn’t run the gauntlet, he didn’t last long.

Nadine, the youngest, was first to marry, in September 1981 (to Stephen K. Peeples), then René in 1988 (to Donald G. Berger); Cheri in 1990 (to Michael J. White) and Marcie in 1992 (to Michael Hicks).

Tragically, Larry did not live to see his grandchildren. He was forced to retire in the early ’80s, disabled due to emphysema. His health declined over the next few years, and he died on April 23, 1985.

Nadine was pregnant with Lorry’s first grandchild when Lorry retired from Security Pacific that summer to focus more on her family, and travel.

Scot Lawrence Peeples was born that September, and Lorry’s first granddaughter Veronica Joan Peeples was born in August 1987. Don and René made it a trio when she gave birth to Donald G. Berger II in April 1989.

When Cheri married Michael J. White, his 12-year-old daughter Michelle and seven-year-old son Nicholas were welcomed into the family as Lorry’s fourth and fifth grandchildren. Making it an even half-dozen was Marcie and Michael Hicks’ daughter Micaela, born in January 1994.

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“Mumsey” with four of her six grandchildren, Scot and Veronica Peeples, Micaela Hicks, and Donald Berger II, In the living room at Azure Circle, Christmas 1998. Michelle and Nick White missed this shot! Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

For two decades, 1974-1994, the Cordova house was scene of many memorable family events, when the air was filled with laughter, the voices of grandchildren, and the scent of Antonia’s incredible Italian cooking, especially her lasagna.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Nadine was employed in Glendale, and every morning on her way to work she would drop off Scot, and then both Scot and Veronica, at their Mumsey’s house for daycare (Scot gave her the nickname about as soon as he began to talk). Donald II would soon join his cousins, who all adored their Mumsey, G.G. and Uncle.

They spent hours playing together, reading stories, making puzzles, watching the Disney Channel on TV as well as shows for the older folks like “The Golden Girls.”

“We all went to amusement parks once in a while, too, like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm,” Cheri said.

Growing up, Lorry had learned sewing and crafting from her mother and aunts. Now, she loved sharing her creativity with her daughters and grandchildren.

“Mother made Halloween costumes for all the little ones,” Cheri said. “She also made the parasol and all the dresses for René’s wedding in 1988, including the dress for baby Veronica.

“And when I got married in 1990, I wore Mother’s wedding dress, which had a huge, long train,” Cheri said. “I had it cut down, and then she made pillows from the satin of the dress. I still have them. My mother and I had a special bond,” as did each sister, in their own ways.

The Martini family was devastated when Antonia, the children’s beloved G.G. Miceli, suffered a stroke and died in 1992, at the age of 92.

Travel Bug

If you took away going to church and raising a family or two, Lorraine’s would probably say her favorite pastime was traveling.

She and all the daughters except Cheri, who took ill, visited Hawaii in summer 1978. She traveled to several countries with Rodger and in 1982 she went to Greece with daughter Marcie.

 To make up for Cheri missing that big adventure, Lorry, Rodger and Cheri went on a trip to Italy in 2001, staying connected to their Italian heritage. They visited the town where Vito grew up, spent time with their cousins on his side, and traveled to historic cities like Rome, Milan and Venice.

The Carlsbad Connections

In 1989 Cheri was living in Los Angeles when she met Michael J. White, a musician and business owner who was visiting from his home in New York. Michael and Cheri were dating when they took a drive south to Carlsbad and discovered a brand-new development of attached homes on a looping private drive named Azure Circle, with beautiful landscaping and a pool.

Cheri mentioned it to her mother and uncle, who looked into the development, decided it was ideal for them, and sold their homes in Glendale. Rodger, who had just retired from his 20 years as a letter carrier in the Glendale area, bought a place on Azure Circle first, then Lorry. By 1994, they were living just a few doors apart.

To both, a chief attraction to the circle was how close it was to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, just about five minutes away. The brother and sister became faithful members of the parish, which they were for the rest of their lives.

Cheri, meanwhile, had married Michael in Glendale in August 1990 and moved to New York to live with her new husband and his two young children. After a few years, another home on Azure Circle came up for sale, so the Whites bought it and moved there in 1996, where, once again, they started a new life.

René, who had been living in Burbank, moved to the Carlsbad area to be closer to her family, while Rodger, always up for new adventures, soon moved to Palm Springs, then Yucca Valley, and back to Carlsbad, finally settling in 2005 at Rancho Carlsbad Country Club Estates, just a few minutes away from his sister.

Eventually, Marcie relocated from Pasadena to Carlsbad, too, also residing at Rancho Carlsbad.

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Rodger Miceli and Lorraine Martini, Azure Circle, Carlsbad, California. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Rodger and Lorry, by then the family matriarch and patriarch, spent a lot of time together as the Twenty-Oughts rolled into the teens. Along with attending Mass, they power-walked at the mall, shopped at Trader Joe’s, caught movies at the nearby multiplex (both were big fans of “The Godfather”), and visited with all their daughters, nieces and grandkids.

Lorry’s, Rodger’s, and Cheri and Michael’s homes on Azure Circle became a circuit for countless family gatherings. Ever-changing combinations of Martinis, Micelis, Whites, Bergers, Peepleses, Ricos and invited guests converged to celebrate birthdays and special holidays. Eat dinner here, open gifts there, enjoy dessert everywhere.

Rodger’s Death

That golden era came to an end when Rodger, at age 86, died of congestive heart failure on, May 4, 2017, with immediate family at his bedside.

Lorry’s knee problems began to slow her down, so René, who had been working as a professional elder caregiver, moved in with her mother to help out and provide companionship. Cheri also literally lived right around the corner, and Marcie just a short drive away.

“We’d watch TV together, shows that we recorded like ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and do jigsaw puzzles sometimes,” René said. “Every Saturday evening Cheri and I’d take Mother to church and out to dinner. She didn’t like many places, but her favorite was The Habit.”

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Lorraine M. Martini, aka Lorry-Mother-Mumsey, surrounded by her loving family celebrating her 90th birthday, Rancho Carlsbad, California, July 2019. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

90th Birthday Celebration, July 2019

Lorraine-Mother-Mumsey’s loving family surprised her last summer with a huge 90th birthday party at the Rancho Carlsbad clubhouse.

Joining all California family members, cousins Thomas Martini and his wife Linda, Phil Martini and Michael Martini flew in from Chicago. Cousin Arlene Minder traveled from New Jersey, and cousin Al Bianco and his wife Bonnie, came in from Arizona. along with Al’s daughter Erika and her husband Al.

Donald II, his wife Amy and their two children, Brendan and Miley, drove in from Las Vegas, while Michelle White Rico and her husband Abram Rico and their two children, Jack and Camille, drove up from their home in National City, near San Diego.

For the first and only time, Mumsey got to be with all six of her grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, in person, at the same time.

“Mumsey loved all of her great-grandchildren,” Michelle said. “She enjoyed spending time with them and playing cards. She pretended she didn’t know how to play, but always won. She called Jack her little sweetheart and Camille her little dolly. And Mumsey enjoyed her Facetime sessions chatting with Brendan and Miley.”

By then, Lorry had re-asserted her independence, and René gracefully exited to her own apartment nearby. She and her two sisters continued to check in on their mother daily, sometimes several times, as did daughter Nadine in Santa Clarita by phone.

Scot and his wife Jessica, also Santa Clarita residents, even set up a web-based nanny-cam in Mumsey’s entry hall and TV room, so any one of several family members would know immediately if she needed help.

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Lorry Martini at her 90th birthday celebration, with (clockwise, from left): her cousin Arlene Minder; and daughters Nadine Peeples, Rene Martini, Cheri White and Marcie Martini, Rancho Carlsbad, California, July 2019. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

Lorry’s Last Days

The last big family gatherings were for Christmas 2019 and to celebrate Nadine’s birthday in late February. Michael White, battling cancer for two years, but not one to call attention to himself, stoically joined the family as always.

As winter turned to spring, Cheri, René and Marcie took turns making sure their mother was safe and comfortable, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders from public health officials.

“Since the virus, Mother was upset because she couldn’t go to out to church or dinner,” René said. “I’d go to the store for her. She’d write out a list that was sometimes hard to read so we’d have to go over it to make sure I got all the right items.”

Cheri and Michael J. White
Cheri and Michael J. White

In the first week of June, as Michael was in hospice care at home, the family again converged on Azure Circle, this time in support of Cheri, Michelle, Abram, Nick, Kimi, Jack and Camille.

The morning of Wednesday, June 10, Lorry complained of chest pains to René, who checked her vitals and then called Nick, a physician, who was at the Whites’ a few doors away tending to his father. So he visited Lorry, checked her vitals, and both René and Nick urged her to go to the hospital.

René drove her mother to Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside about 10 minutes away, where doctors quickly determined Lorry had had a major heart attack and admitted her to the intensive care unit.

On Thursday morning, as Lorry was stabilized in the ICU, Michael succumbed at home; Cheri, Michelle, Nick and Jack were with him at the end.

Meanwhile, at Tri-City, specialists told the family Lorry’s heart was damaged beyond repair. They were very sorry, but it was just a matter of time, they said.

Fortunately, all four of Lorry’s daughters and all six grandchildren were able to talk with her a last time on Thursday, via Facetime and/or in person, thanks to a compassionate nursing staff who bent all the rules to let her family surround her.

Around 6 p.m. Thursday, Rev. Ben Drapeau CJM arrived to deliver Last Rites. Lorry was sleeping as he applied holy oil to her forehead.

Which woke her up.

“What are you doing here?” she asked him, smiling.

They continued to pray together, and when it was time for him to leave, Lorry seemed at peace, the Father told family members in the waiting area on his way out.

He was pleasantly surprised because his Last Rites clients are usually far less animated.

Grandsons Nick and Donald II, also a medical professional, attended their Mumsey all Thursday night. She spoke with them both. In the early morning hours, she slipped into unconsciousness, and, joined at her bedside by her two youngest daughters, René and Nadine, and Nadine’s husband Stephen, she died at 7:40 a.m. Friday.

‘Too Fast’

“It happened too fast,” Nadine said, and coming less than 24 hours after Michael had passed away, it was a double gut-punch to their many loved ones.

Because the family had gathered in Carlsbad to support Cheri in Michael’s final hours, they were also in town when Lorry was suddenly hospitalized.

Scot later surmised Michael had planned it that way, in a final selfless act, timing his exit so Mumsey’s family would have a last chance to see her, tell how much they loved her, thank her for everything she did for them, and say goodbye.

“I am grateful to Mother for the connection I have with spirit,” said Marcie, who was able to visit her mom a last time the night before she died.

“Growing up as a Catholic little girl you are introduced to many rituals of the church,” Marcie said. “My inner connection to the Holy Spirit and the Saints has stayed with me throughout my whole life. They have been a guiding post for my spiritual growth. When I had this realization, I shared it with my mother, and I know it made her feel blessed that she could give me that connection to God.”

“She was an amazing mother who always thought of others before herself,” Nadine said. “Along with raising my sisters and me, when she took care of our children in their pre-school years, and was such a presence as they grew up, she molded them beautifully to be caring and loving adults.”

Nadine recalled how her grandmother, mother, father and uncle would always welcome the friends she and her sisters would invite to big family gatherings for birthdays and holidays.

“That was true from Hollyridge Loop to Clark Street, the Glendale house and Carlsbad,” she said. “That’s what Italian families do, and I’m proud our family is carrying on that tradition.”

Like Nadine, everyone who loved Lorry-Mother-Mumsey has memories of her that they will hold onto and cherish forever.

“She left us too suddenly and it hurts so much,” she said. “I, too, am so thankful she introduced me to God and Jesus. My spirituality is what is helping me get through this sad time.”

Survivors

Lorraine M. Martini was preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence H. Martini and brother, Rodger J. Miceli. She is survived by daughters Cheri A. Martini White and Marcie A. Martini of Carlsbad, René A. Martini of Oceanside, and Nadine A. Martini Peeples (husband Stephen K. Peeples) of Santa Clarita; grandchildren Michelle C. White Rico (husband J. Abram Rico) of National City, Nicholas M. White (wife Kimi L. Nikaidoh) of Los Angeles, Scot L. Peeples (wife Jessica L. Posner-Peeples) of Santa Clarita, Veronica J. Peeples of Las Vegas, Donald G. Berger (wife Amy J. Berger) of Las Vegas, and Micaela L. Hicks of Vista; and great-grandchildren Jack C. Rico and Camille M. Rico of National City, and Brendan D. Berger and Miley R. Berger of Las Vegas.

Services & Interment

A funeral mass for both Lorraine and Michael will take place at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Carlsbad on Thursday, July 9, at 9:45 a.m.

Due to current restrictions on public gatherings, the church is only allowing a maximum of 100 people.

The family will gather again privately at 1 p.m. for the delivery of eulogies for both Michael J. White (by Nicholas) and Lorraine M. Martini (by Veronica).

The service and eulogies will be livestreamed via Facebook Live and Zoom (see below for links and details).

On Friday, July 10, again, the 91st anniversary of Lorry’s birth, she will be interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in San Fernando, where her father, mother and husband also rest in peace.

Lorry’s family is grateful for the outpouring of condolences and support they have received since her passing, and looks forward to inviting her friends, neighbors and members of the St. Patrick’s community to a celebration of life to be held at a later date, when restrictions on public gatherings can be safely lifted.

The family also requests that in lieu of flowers or gifts to please consider a donation to the American Heart Association and/or the Cancer Research Institute.

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Livestreams on Thursday, July 9, 2020:
9:45 a.m. PDT: Service
1 p.m. PDT: Eulogies

Web addresses:
Facebook Live: Go to “Events”
Service: https://www.facebook.com/events/301088404408725/
Eulogies: https://www.facebook.com/events/200508261306206/

Zoom (same for Service and Eulogies): https://csun.zoom.us/j/8859476923?pwd=ZGJIVlFwMUJQSlZEN241T2VGeVdSQT09

Meeting ID: 885 947 6923
Password: Mumsey


Article: Eulogy: Lorraine Marion Miceli Martini (July 10, 1929-June 12, 2020)
Category: News and Reviews
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Article Source: stephenkpeeples.com