Salem — Mrs. Diana (Giardi) Orlando, 73, of Salem, passed away after a year-long battle with cancer, on Friday, January 10, 2014, at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, surrounded by her immediate family.
Born in Beverly on September 29, 1940, she was the daughter of the late Rocco and Vincenza (Montoni) Giardi. She leaves behind her husband, Salvatore Orlando, just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary this April; her son, Salvatore Orlando Jr. of Salem; and her daughter, Alicia Ryan and her husband, Frederick Ryan of Salem. Diana also had three grandchildren, McKenzie, Devyn and Mitchell Ryan, all of Salem. She was a faithful communicant of St. Mary’s Italian Church in Salem, until it closed in 2002.
Diana was a remarkable woman, devoted wife, mother, and loving grandmother. Her passions in life were her family, her work and her commitment to the Salem sports community, from Little League all the way through Salem High School.
Diana and Salvatore Orlando of Gloucester were married in 1964. A few years after their marriage, they built a new home in the Witchcraft Heights section of Salem. From that moment on, their home became the center of all family and social gatherings for nearly 50 years. Just about every baptism, birthday, confirmation, holidays, and family reunions were celebrated at Diane’s house. Beyond theses social occasions, there was a buffet every Sunday that included the best Italian food, ravioli, meatballs, sausages, spaghetti, and of course, hot dogs and hamburgers, in the summer. Diana was a great cook and she would get insulted if anyone did not get a second helping. In addition to family gatherings, there were constant parades of players and teams from Little League, high school and college, who came to eat and swim at Diana’s house. Her husband, Sal, was a legendary Little League coach for almost 40 years, and who always had his teams at the house after games. Years and even decades after kids had played, they would often come back to reminisce, and of course, eat with Diana and Sal. Everyone was always welcome.
As a young girl, Diana was dealt a cruel blow when she became completely deaf through the disease of scarlet fever, which has long since been eradicated. She fought this, and graduated with honors from Salem High School in 1959. She loved accounting and worked for many different companies over the years including, Willard and Helpburn, Almy’s, Essex Office Associates, Corporate Express, and the last 15 years, with Regan Communications in Boston, a multimillion dollar corporation owned by George Regan, who appointed her as the CFO.
Diana not only achieved great success in the business world, but also had similar results as an ardent supporter of Salem High School athletics. As president of the Salem High School football booster in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, Diana raised thousand of dollars for scholarships and banquets that were held annually for all the players, cheerleaders, parents and fans. For her dedication, she was voted into the Salem High School Hall of Fame in 2004, for meritorious service. She always loved attending all Salem High sporting events, especially when her own son, Salvatore junior, and grand kids, McKenzie and Devyn Ryan, and all her nieces and nephews played. Some of the best times of her life were at games, not only at Salem High, but at Harvard University, where her nephews, Mike and Tom Giardi played football and baseball in the 1990s. She spent many memorable weekends tailgating with family, friends, players, and parents from the teams.
In addition to her family and grand kids, Diana also leaves behind her two sisters, Marion Chronis, and Evelyn and her husband, Norman Marquis, all of Georgetown; her two brothers, Rocco and his wife, Joan Giardi, and Al and his wife, Jane Giardi, all of Salem. There are also many nieces, nephews and godchildren, whom she loved and they deeply loved her in return.
ARRANGEMENTS: Her funeral will be held from The O’Donnell Funeral Home 46 Washington Sq., at Salem Common, Salem, on Thursday, January 16, at 9 a.m., followed by her funeral Mass in Ste Anne’s Church, Jefferson Ave., Salem, at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Salem. Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday, January 15, from 3 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Diana’s memory to the Kaplan Family Hospice House, 78 Liberty St., Danvers, MA 01923. To share a memory, or offer a condolence, please visit www.odonnellfuneralservice.com.