LEOMINSTER - Eve Mary Margaret (Mazzaferro) LeBlanc, 96, of Leominster, proud mother, loyal sister, devoted aunt, great aunt, ally to many, mentor to younger women, voracious reader, stock-market player, forever young, and ahead of her time, died Sunday, March 22, of natural causes, with her daughter by her side. She was born in her family home on Eden Glen in Leominster on March 26, 1923, a daughter of Nicola Mazzaferro and Costanza (Di Russo), and was a lifelong resident.
She leaves three children, Adrian N. LeBlanc and her son-in-law, Stuart D. Lewis, of New York; Daniel M. LeBlanc and Judith L. (LeBlanc) Lahti, both of Leominster; her brother, Aldo J. Mazzaferro of Leominster; cherished nieces and nephews, many great-nieces and great-nephews, countless cousins, valued children and friends.
She was predeceased by her husband Adrian L. LeBlanc, two sisters, Nicolina Mazzaferro and Anna Bovenzi, five brothers, Tony Mazzaferro, Emile Mazzaferro, Albert Mazzaferro, Mid Mazzaferro, and Joseph Mazzaferro, and a son-in-law, Daniel E. Lahti.
She attended Leominster High School, taking the classical course for those bound for college, but the sudden loss of her father changed her priorities. She graduated in 1941, while at the same time working at Cluett Peabody to support her family, a commitment she honored, in fact and in spirit, for the remaining seventy-eight years of her life. Despite the adversity of the Depression, compounded by the conventional expectations of Italian daughters, Eve kept her eye on what she prized - higher education, a "ticket out." That formality was a gift she helped give her nieces, nephews, and children, but she pursued her curiosity independently. Life was a serious business and she studied it.
Typing she learned from a book she studied at her mother's kitchen table, which she then taught at night school; the basics of accounting were gleaned from a brother, which she then applied at a job at Tradjer Lumber, where she became a book-keeper. She taught herself business law after that. During World War II, at a job in the induction office at Fort Devens, she not only saw Eddie Fisher (the first of many celebrity encounters), but taught herself the Dewey Decimal System, which earned her a spot at the library. She loved being a librarian. She appreciated readers and cherished quiet.
Books had always been a great pleasure, and her portal to the wider world. She read expansively - Proust to Agatha Christie - and she read voraciously. At 56, after she raised her children, through the CETA program, she returned to work as the fiscal coordinator of a grassroots drug treatment center in an empty building on the grounds of Westborough State Hospital, which during her tenure grew into what is now Spectrum Health Systems. It was by far her favorite job, and she supported people who were struggling with addiction when that stigma was especially punishing. She was the first to welcome newcomers to any party, and she took genuine interest in people. She sheltered many during difficult life transitions. She remained an avid news reader, regularly checking the Huffington Post and Politico, along with her secret pleasure of TMZ. She enjoyed fashion and fashion magazines, and kept abreast of celebrity gossip. The last time she was in New York, in 2016, she chatted with Ben Affleck and Trevor Noah at a party, after which her son-in-law was labelled a "party pooper," because he insisted they leave before 1AM.
Eve's pride in the Mazzaferro clan was fierce, unshakeable, sometimes unreasonable, and she exemplified the best of that inheritance, the matriarch who opened up the strictures of a hard legacy. She held many people's secrets, claimed to have none of her own, and stood by those she adored, regardless of the cost. She was tenacious, super smart, wry, impatient, kind, fun, hip, and ever self-sufficient. She was a complicated feminist. She made over a million dollars on the stock market, enjoyed the moment, then spread the wealth. As much as she claimed to want "the good life," which included trips to Europe, high fashion, and a "New York martini--straight up, with two olives," her definition of value wasn't material. She was always encouraging of the pursuits and adventures of her expanding family, both blood and chosen. She kept up with every generation, and celebrated milestones with her handwritten notes, dictating one, just days before she died, to the newly married ex-girlfriend of a great nephew.
As COVID-19 news began to take shape, Eve shared that her father had been orphaned due to the Spanish Influenza. Her family is grateful she was spared the devastation, and is looking forward to celebrating her life when large gatherings are possible again.
If you are inclined, please share Eve's spirit with either a donation to the Friends of the Leominster Public Library, 30 West Street, Leominster, MA 01453 or the Perkins Talking Book Library, 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA 02472.