MOUNT VERNON, NY — March 4, 2021 — Dr. Matilde Mignone Fava passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, after a tireless and valiant battle with cancer. She is survived by her loving husband of nearly 49 years, John; her adoring daughters and their husbands, Palmina (Richard), Doreena (Paul), and Joanna (Anthony); nine grandchildren who admired her; five siblings; an aunt; in-laws and an extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins. Matilde emigrated to the United States from San Leucio del Sannio (Benevento) in September 1960. Like many Italian immigrants at the time, she faced discrimination and, as a woman, was stereotyped for particular jobs, but she remained undaunted in the pursuit of the American dream. Matilde spent grueling days laboring in a factory, and nights caring for her younger siblings and taking English classes. With much hard work and perseverance, within two years, she realized the first step in her dream by teaching first grade at Our Lady of Victory in Mount Vernon. At the same time, Matilde enrolled at Fordham University, where she toiled for seven years working full-time and going to school at night to earn her degree. She continued her educational pursuits, earning a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Italian Language and Literature from NYU – while working full-time and raising a family. Now, Dr. Fava, she worked tirelessly to salvage the Italian studies programs at numerous high schools and colleges in the tri-state area for over 40 years, and she expanded the programs at the institutions with which she was affiliated. At Farmingdale State College – where she served on the faculty for over 35 years – Dr. Fava implemented an Italian Studies Minor, created hybrid and online classes well before the pandemic, served with distinction as a Chair or Member of many College-wide committees, and, despite battling cancer, spent the last two years as Chairperson of the Modern Languages Department. In addition to these responsibilities, Dr. Fava served for over 45 years as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, lectured at conferences around the world, published two books, and was involved in civic organizations that promoted Italian culture, advanced women’s and immigrants’ rights, and advocated for veterans’ benefits. Dr. Fava was recognized for her excellence in teaching and service with two Chancellor Awards, Teacher of the Year awards, an Ambasciatori Award, and a Bene Merenti Award, to name a few.
Dr. Fava’s professional achievements – particularly in light of the considerable headwinds she faced – are awe-inspiring, but she will be remembered most for her curious mind, sharp wit, fearless outspokenness, unyielding devotion to and love for her family and students, and perseverance in the midst of adversity. She led a life of purpose. To continue Dr. Fava’s legacy of supporting student research and learning, in lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family asks you to consider a donation to the Dr. Matilde Fava Student Scholarship Fund. Donations may be made through: https://securelb.
The family will receive visitors on Friday, March 5 from 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Yannantuono Funeral Home, 584 Gramatan Avenue in Mount Vernon. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 129 E. Birch Street in Mount Vernon. A live-stream of the mass may be accessed at https://www.