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Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Representing the 3rd District of Connecticut

Rosa DeLauro Honors Mother, Luisa DeLauro, Who Passed Away at 103

September 10, 2017
Press Release

NEW HAVEN, CT (September 10, 2017) Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today honored her mother, Luisa DeLauro, after she passed away on September 9 at the age of 103. Born December 24, 1913, Luisa was the third of six children born to Cesare and Luisa Canestri. Raised in New Haven’s Wooster Square, she dedicated a lifetime to the neighborhood she called home and the people who lived there.

“My mother was no stranger to hard work,” said DeLauro. “When I was growing up, she worked in a sweatshop, sewing shirt collars for pennies. Every day after school, she would make me come by to see the horrible, cramped conditions. It is something I will never forget. The lesson she passed on was clear: work hard. Make something of yourself. Get a good education.”

“My mother has always been my greatest inspiration and I will miss her greatly. She taught me the most valuable of lessons of my life,” continued DeLauro. “She understood that politics was an avenue for change—a way to help people who were struggling. It is truly the blessing of a lifetime to have been able to follow in her footsteps, to serve the people of New Haven and Connecticut. All of my actions are guided by her love, encouragement and dedication.”

Luisa is the longest serving member of the New Haven Board of Aldermen in the City’s history, having served 35 years from her first election in 1965. Her colleagues respectfully referred to her as “the dean of the Board of Alderman,” having served under six Mayors and nearly all of the committees on the board.

Luisa dedicated much of her time to issues involving seniors, the working poor, and, of course, Wooster Square. While serving as vice-chairman of the New Haven Historic District Study Commission, she was instrumental in designating Wooster Square as New Haven’s first Historic District. She was also one of the founders of the neighborhood’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. At the end of her unparalleled tenure, she expressed “great satisfaction” in what Wooster Square had achieved over the years, calling it “a diverse and tolerant neighborhood, now a Historic District, and a vital part of our city.”

Luisa was married to Ted DeLauro from November 1938 until his death in April 1971. She and Ted, fondly referred to as the “Mayor of Wooster Square,” often gave great assistance to immigrants who found it difficult to overcome language barriers and the complexities of American life.

Luisa was also a fierce advocate for women’s equality. While serving as Secretary of the Tenth Ward Democratic Club in 1933, she penned an article in the Club’s newsletter showcasing her dynamic spirit: “It is not my intention to be critical, rather my motive in writing this article is to encourage the female members of this organization to take a more active part in its affairs. We are not living in the middle ages when a women’s part in life was merely to serve her master in her home, but we have gradually taken our place in every phase of human endeavor, and even in the here-to-for stronghold of the male sex: politics.” She closed her inspiring editorial with a call to action that resonates to this day, “Come on girls, let’s make ourselves heard.”

The Iovanne Funeral Home of New Haven is handling the arrangements.