Pauline DiGiulio Tofanelli
Krystah Carlisle

1924—2017

Pauline found peace at home on Dunaweal Lane on November 21, with her children, Vince and Norma, granddaughter Angela and devoted dog, Little Girl, at her side.

Pauline was born to Sebastian and Irene DiGiulio on October 27, 1924 at the Pratt Avenue, St. Helena, home of her grandmother, Amabile Dal Porto, unattended by a physician because her uncle, Basilio, delayed hitching the horse and buggy to fetch the doctor on such a stormy night.

In 1929, Pauline moved with her family from the Schramsberg/Naylor estate where they were caretakers, to the prune and pear orchards purchased by Sebastian and Irene on Dunaweal Lane in Calistoga, where she farmed for 88 years. She and her older brother Guido worked with their parents in the fields as the crops changed to walnuts and grapes. She always said how she hated picking prunes.

She attended Calistoga schools and while she loved her home-making classes with Mrs. Salladay, she loved to play hooky even more, often in the company of her best friend, Rosie Cravea. Her love of wearing cowboy boots as a teenager earned her the nickname “Boots”.

After her brother Guido died in an automobile accident in 1942, she took over as the farm hand and tractor driver he had been, while also working graveyard on milling machines at Shop 31, Mare Island, during WWII.

After the war, she and the Cravea sisters worked in Vallejo’s Sperry Flour Mill, an onion plant and a cracker factory, hand-snapping sheets of crackers for packaging.

In 1946, while celebrating Fourth of July at Bothe’s Paradise Park, she met handsome WWII Navy vet, Vernon Tofanelli of Vallejo, who would become her husband, father of her children and farming partner. They married in 1947 and lived in Vallejo until 1951, when they moved to Calistoga, where they purchased their own small vineyard and home on Dunaweal Lane, across from the DiGiulio ranch where she grew up. Pauline and Vernon worked alongside Sebastian and Irene as they farmed both ranches together, sharing equipment and labor.

Pauline soon became wonder-woman mother, homemaker, farmer and gardener, as well as electrician, plumber, carpenter and brick-layer as she turned the run-down old Carpi/Luchetti house into a home while Vern worked at a gas station on Third and Soscol in Napa during days, farming on evenings and Sundays.

She was well-known at the Napa County Fair in Calistoga where she consistently took blue ribbons for her sewing, baking, canning and gardening skills.

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After Vernon’s death in 1988, she continued “doing her thing” outdoors beside her son, Vince, running both the Tofanelli and DiGiulio vineyards, because, as she always said, she hated being in the house. Her great passion was mushroom hunting and she really lamented the loss of her many hunting grounds in the neighborhood.

Pauline is pre-deceased by her younger sister Maye Anne Rued and survived by her children Norma and Vince Tofanelli (Arminée), granddaughter Angela Tofanelli-Conley (Jeff), great-grandchildren Melissa and Jackson Conley, and her beloved rat terrier, Little Girl.

Viewing will be on Thursday, November 30 from 3 to 6:30 pm, followed by Rosary at Claffey and Rota Funeral Home, 1975 Main Street, Napa. Private internment at St. Helena Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to We Care Animal Rescue, St. Helena. Memories and notes of sympathy may be shared at claffeyandrota.com.

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