A Short Biography
Aug. 4, 1957 - Nov. 4, 2006
By Lorenzo Gigliotti
Born to parents Francesco Moraca and Maria Stella Puteri, Elisa "Lisa" would be the first of two sisters – her little sister’s name is Lina (Sept. 1959 - Sept. 2016) . Lisa's hometown San Mango d'Aquino, Italy (www.sanmango.net) located in southern Italy is a picturesque town perched upon a small mountain a few miles from the coast. At only about 600 years old, it is a fairly young town for that area and has a population of approximately 1,800. Lisa went to elementary school there and later attended high school in the nearby city of Lamezia Terme (Nicastro). After several trips to Italy, I asked her to marry me in 1974. She was 17 and I was 18. She came back to the USA with me to live in Long Beach, California and she enrolled at Wilson HS in the fall of 1974. She had already fulfilled her requirements for a high school diploma but she needed to learn English and US History. She graduated from Wilson High School in June of 1975 after giving birth to our son Lorenzo, III the previous month. She has always been a multi-tasker.
She entered California State University, Long Beach in the fall of 1975 and began working on her BA in Romance Languages -- a special major. She loved language, culture and communication. She attended college part time in order to be with our son as much as possible and she received her Bachelors Degree in 1982. She soon thereafter was offered an opportunity to teach at Cal State while working toward a Master's Degree. She taught numerous Spanish and Italian classes at the university for many years and made many friends. She was very excited about the development of a full fledged Italian department at Cal State and her teaching style was greatly influenced by Dr. Anna Chelotti Burney, PhD., who brought prestige to the fledgling department.
In 1980 Lisa also became a naturalized United States citizen. She loved the United States and she loved living in Long Beach, California.
In 1989 our second child, Daniela was born. Again Lisa always maintained a flexible schedule so that she could spend as much time with Daniela as possible. We juggled our working hours -- Lisa often taught night classes and would leave for work as I arrived home in the late afternoon.
She received her Masters in Spanish in 1990 as well as a certificate in Italian and eventually started teaching in community colleges throughout the area. Our third child was born in 1991 -- her name is MariaFrancesca and the challenges of raising the children and teaching were always balanced carefully. Though she loved teaching there was no doubt that her children were her top priority. Our kids call her “mommy”; her students who were a close second, addressed her as “Professora” or “Professoressa” while her colleagues lovingly called her “Lisita.”
Most recently she was teaching a full-time schedule spread over Cypress College, Golden West College and Long Beach City College. She loved these classes and her students. She had hoped to eventually secure a full-time position now that the children were getting older and more independent. She touched many people's hearts, minds and lives.
Throughout the years Lisa was very active in the local PTA and was a great fundraiser. She was active in youth sports, charities and most recently she assisted me greatly with the Long Beach Cares Katrina relief effort. Lisa and I have always been a team and her enthusiastic support and participation gave me the ability to do much non-profit work.
She loved her family, cooking and having company over any time. Her pasta was always “al dente” and her sauce was in a class by itself. Any excuse was a reason to have a party. The holiday season was her favorite time of the year -- she welcomed neighbors, friends and family to our New Year’s parties every year. Friends would stop by all the time and she would open a bottle of red wine, slice some Italian cheese, and share a nice glass or two. Her laugh was truly delightful and could brighten up any room.
Lisa had a little secret too. Though her command of the English language was impeccable there were a few words that she always avoided. One was “turtle” – she simply could not say it and the other was “focus” which she could only say if she concentrated very hard, because she tended to switch the “o” and the “u” and the word that came out was sometimes a little surprising. When a friend of ours bought a Ford Focus we had a good laugh when Lisa told us the name and she laughed too, when she realized the words that had come out – needless to say she very rarely used that word again.
Lisa was a beautiful person inside and out. Her spirit radiated with her smile and she touched everyone's life in a positive and loving way. She would do anything for anybody anytime. Her students have echoed her compassion over and over. Through email they have shared stories of the difference that Lisa made in their lives. They shared personal stories of how she helped them gain confidence and motivation to continue their studies. Not just to pursue foreign language but to also go onto to finish their other studies and interests. Her spirit permeates my being now. The children feel her presence as well. Though we miss her dearly, we feel her presence everywhere and we know that she is with us. She would not want us to mourn – she’d want us to live on and be happy.