Marisa Ornella Gielow
Born October 30, 1949 in New London, Wisconsin to Leon D. and Fiorella I. Gielow.
On April 9, 2018, we all lost “a flower in the bouquet of life”, to take a quote from a sermon by Little Richard, when something, probably medical, happened to Marisa when she took a curve at high speed on Old River Road in Yolo County, and never corrected her path, hitting a tree and ending her life instantly. That flower was at times weedy and prickly but mindful of many other lives and caring to friend, both human and animal.
The first ten years of her life were spent in Germany and Italy where her Army dad was stationed, so she had much contact with her Italian grandparents and relatives, all living in or near Rome. She then moved with family around the USA as Army assignments changed, eventually ending up in Davis in 1961, so that her mom could be near her twin sister, Marisa’s Auntie Marisa and family. Her other namesake, Auntie Ornella, lived with her family on the East Coast. Marisa graduated from Davis High Scholl in 1967.
Marisa later lived in Texas with Terry Grimstad for several years, delivering specialty high-end cars and trucks from the Great Lakes to destinations in the south. She eventually made property management her work in Sacramento, Yolo and Sonoma Counties. She was known for her ability to manage difficult rental properties in her rogue way. In the early 2000s she briefly moved to rural north-central Wisconsin, close to Green Bay, where she was born, and has countless cousins. She returned to be near friends and family in California, particularly her special longtime friend Terry, now back in Woodland, her brother William and his husband Mark Sachau in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, and her nephew Ryan with his wife Anwanur and children Samona, Andrew and Emmett of Buellton, CA.
Life threw many challenges in Marisa’s path, but she insisted on tackling them herself and in her own way. She got great pleasure from helping others and animals. There are countless examples, including watching over a friend without family or anyone else while dealing with his last days fighting AIDS, tending to her mom’s and auntie’s final months of struggling with cancer and even very recently, helping a special friend keep her work schedule while her husband recovered from surgery. But perhaps one example says a little about a special gift, more poignant given her unconventional persona. I (brother) had lost sight of her in the grocery store in Santa Barbara for a good while and finally found her in front of the milk case, talking to a scruffy middle-aged biker or trucker. They had chanced to meet and one of them made a comment and the story began there. By the time I arrived, they were trading observations about foods, family, pets and some place they both knew about in north Texas, I’m guessing. In seconds, Marisa had connected with a stranger and they parted astral partners in the unlikeliest of settings. Add to this Marisa’s joyful habit of spontaneously delivering a loud operatic note that she dubbed her Brunhilda call, best done imagining oneself in breast-plates and horned helmet, and you have a broader picture of our much-missed sister and friend.
Marisa leaves behind many cousins and their progeny who were important to her life, including Wendell Cottle and Barbara McPherson of Arroyo Grande, Glenn Cottle and Peter Fogerty of Palm Springs, Terence and Catherine Cottle of Las Vegas, and Kelsey and Larry Rowe of Roseville, CA.. In Wisconsin, cousins she grew up with enjoying her grandparents’ farm in Waupaca County were Karla (Dan) Rajek, Karen Krause, Dennis Gielow, Dwain (Kaye) Gielow and a whole mess of Sawalls from Grandma Clara’s side of the family, all in the Fox River Valleys. In Italy, Massimilliano (Veronica Pacheco) Passalacqua, Ottorino Passalacqua and Annarita Passalacqua of Civitavecchia, port of Rome; and Cristina (Antonio di Paride) Melanotti of Rome
If we could share a spiritual last time together as sister and brother, it would be at a terrace table with wine and olives in a calm dusk thinking about our parents without words as we listened to Amy Hanaiali’i sing Kaulana Wailua A’o Moloka’i. Please sit with us.
Marisa: May she always have friends and pets, a place to gather with others in the early morning for coffee, and someone always around to care for…eternally. Bro Bill
If you wish to remember Marisa with a donation, the North Valley Indian Clinic and the Yolo Animal Shelter were important to her.