Elizabeth Catucci, 96; Ran fabric binding company

Elizabeth Catucci.
Elizabeth Catucci.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Elizabeth J. Catucci, who grew up in Greenwich Village and was an original tenant of 505 LaGuardia Place, died Aug. 6. She was 96.

She was born the daughter of Lillian and Frank Morganti, immigrants from Sicily.

Elizabeth’s daughter Joyce Gatti said her mother was born in Pennsylvania, where Lillian and Frank first settled, before moving to Greenwich Village when Elizabeth was still a young child.

Elizabeth’s father, Frank, had a cafe in the Village across from her family’s home, at 93 MacDougal St.

“It didn’t have a name. It didn’t have a sign,” Joyce said. “A lot of Italian guys would frequent it.”

From an early age, Elizabeth showed talent as a seamstress and clothing designer. She designed and made her own wedding dress, and won a scholarship to a New Jersey School.

“She wasn’t able to take that scholarship,” her daughter said, “because my grandmother always felt that the daughters should remain by their mothers’ apron strings.”

Elizabeth’s father supported her taking the scholarship, but his wife overruled him.

“She cried for months after that,” Joyce said.

“My mother actually made me clothes out of my father’s old suits — like woolen jumpers when I was a toddler,” she recalled. “Even when I was older, she made dresses for me. When I was a child, she made dresses for all my dolls, out of beautiful material.”

Elizabeth met her future husband, Joseph Catucci, who lived nearby in the Village, when they were both 14.

“Imagine that — that’s true love,” Joyce said.

They wed before Joseph entered the Navy for World War II. Later, they were one of the first couples to move into the new Mitchell Lama building at 505 LaGuardia Place when it opened in 1967.

Elizabeth was active in many worthy causes, including notably the American Committee for Italian Migration (ACIM), of which she was the president for a year or two, her daughter said.

She was also involved in church affairs and fundraising. She and Joseph obtained the first station wagon for the sisters of Our Lady of Pompeii School on Bleecker St. She was an active member of the school’s P.T.A.

The couple would also drive the nuns up to Connecticut, and, with her sister-in-law, Hilda Morganti, Elizabeth even washed the church steps at Our Lady of Pompeii on her hands and knees, her daughter said.

“The father was very meticulous,” Joyce noted.

Joseph ran the Success Trimming and Binding Corporation, at 550 Broadway, which cut and bound fabric and trimmings for garments, and also made ribbons. Joseph — who had previously worked delivering fish — had started out as a worker at the company, and impressed the owner so much that he left him the company, according to Joyce.

After Joseph died, Elizabeth ran the company with her late son William. William, who was a Coast Guard auxiliary member, was a coach with Downtown United Soccer Club for many years.

Joyce said her parents also worked on the election campaigns of longtime Village Assemblymember William F. Passannante.

On a personal level, Elizabeth was a social lady who loved to laugh, enjoyed cooking and caring for her children and grandchildren.

She will be deeply missed by her family and friends. She is survived by her daughters, Joyce Gatti and Lillian Catucci, treasured grandchildren, Lisa, Laura, Patricia, Joseph and Daniel, and great-grandchildren, Brandon, Brian and Joey.

Visitation was held at Perazzo Funeral Home on Aug.11, and a funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Aug. 12.

Joyce, of East Patchogue, Long Island, went on to become a foreign language teacher. She said that, unlike her grandmother, her father, Joseph, strongly supported his children getting higher education, and that he was supported by Elizabeth, who had seen her dreams of a fashion career quashed by her own mother.

“My father said, ‘If you educate the mother, you educate the whole family,’” she said.