Nancy Cuccia Smith
Madison – Nancy Cuccia Smith, age 73, of Madison, passed away peacefully among family and close friends on November 24, 2019 at Agrace hospice.
The daughter of Andrew and Mary Cuccia, she was born January 2, 1946 in the village of Piana degli Albanesi, near Palermo, Sicily. She emigrated to the United States at age 3, in February 1949, and has called Madison home ever since. She graduated from Edgewood High School in 1964 and Edgewood College in 1976. She married her husband of 51 years, Richard (Dick) Smith on June 15, 1968.
Nurtured by a loving family, including many relatives that stretched across generations and geography from Italy to Chicago to Madison, Nancy developed a love of family and friends that defined her life. And, to her family and friends, she was a trusted confidant and advisor who combined a phenomenal memory for the details of their lives with a wealth of common sense, genuine caring, a quick wit, and the fine art of discretion.
Nancy enjoyed everything about holidays. They were her excuse to decorate lavishly, and to cook, entertain and celebrate with family and friends. She kept Sicilian traditions alive at the dinner table, which she liked crowded, loud and overflowing with food, laughter and stories. She made holidays special for younger brothers, John, Anthony and Frank, and daughters, Katherine and Mary. Although really, she loved all babies and children–and it never seemed to matter whose they were or where she met them.
Her passion for movies and Broadway musicals started in high school and lasted a lifetime. Later, she enjoyed playing games with friends–although she never took them seriously, except for scrabble, where she clearly enjoyed repeatedly crushing her husband. Typical was her youthful fling with bridge, where she entered a bridge tournament and earned national master points for placing second, but didn’t care enough about winning to ever compete again. And, in quieter moments, she dabbled skillfully at needlepoint, crochet and her irresistible NY Times Sunday crossword.
Education played an important part in Nancy’s life, and she was especially grateful to the many teachers at Franklin, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Edgewood Grade Schools, at Edgewood High School, and at Edgewood College for developing her life-long joy of reading. As a young immigrant, her teachers opened up a whole new world for her.
While at Edgewood College in 1966, she met her future husband, Dick, a student at UW-Madison. By the time they married in 1968, she had left school to work as a technician in the High Energy Physics Department at UW-Madison, and later, as a bookkeeper at several banks. As Dick was finishing his law degree, she returned to Edgewood to complete her degree in Social Work. It would be hard to overstate how much she enjoyed those two years. After graduating in 1976, she was hired as Edgewood’s Alumni Director.
She enjoyed her daily bike rides to work–which she continued almost until her first daughter, Katherine, was born a few years later. She happily became a full-time mother, and in September 1980, her family was complete when her second daughter, Mary, was born. Nancy shared a love of travel with her daughters, who were lucky enough to join her on many trips to special places throughout her life.
Nancy is survived by her mother, Mary Cuccia; her husband, Richard D. Smith; her children, Katherine Cuccia Smith and Mary Elizabeth Smith; her brothers, John (Megan) Cuccia, Anthony (Gayla) Cuccia, and Frank (Diana) Cuccia; her niece, Kimberly Cuccia, and her nephews, Shane (Angela) Cuccia, Anthony Cuccia Jr., and Craig (Bridget) Cuccia. She was preceded in death by her father, Andrew Cuccia.
Nancy’s family welcomes friends and neighbors to join them in a celebration of life at OLBRICH BOTANICAL GARDENS, 3330 Atwood Ave. Madison, on Sunday, December 15th, at 9:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters or Second Harvest Foodbank.
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