December 2013

Obituary: Mariuccia Iaconi (1928–2013)

Potrero Hill resident and business owner Mariuccia Iaconi died earlier this year. She was 85. Iaconi lived on Pennsylvania Avenue, and owned Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports at 970 Tennessee Street until 2006. She started the business in 1955. The enterprise imported foreign titles for resell to schools and individuals. After it closed Iaconi stayed active at San Francisco's Dolphin Club, a swimming and boating club centered at Aquatic Park.

“She was just a wonderful woman,” said Mary Cantini, a Dolphin Club member. “A very good friend.”

“She was a great lady,” said Kate Coleman, another Dolphin Club member, who knew Mariuccia, and wrote a remembrance of her life for the Dolphin Club's newsletter, the “Dolphin Log.”

Mariuccia was friends with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, though he said the two hadn’t been in contact for many years. Ferlinghetti co-founded City Lights Bookstore in North Beach, and is a former San Francisco poet laureate. “My family and her family were very close,” Ferlinghetti said by phone. “They always meant a lot to us.” Ferlinghetti said his children and the Iaconi children – Mauro, Mia, Mara and Daria – played together when they were growing up on Potrero Hill. The Ferlinghetti's moved off of the Hill in the late-1960s. His son and Mariuccia's son are the same age.

According to Ferlinghetti, Mariuccia held the family together. “She was very steady,” he said. “She was very compassionate.”

At the Dolphin Club, Cantini and Mariuccia swam at the same time of the day. “I would see her almost every morning. She had her liberal leanings, which I agreed with,” Cantini said. Though the two were from different generations, they’d spend about 20 minutes each day talking in the sauna. Cantini recalled chatting with Mariuccia about everything: politics, fashion, hairdos. She was “regal,” Cantini said.

Cantini noted Mariuccia's wonderful family, with three generations in one home. According to Coleman, Daria and her family moved into her mother's Pennsylvania Avenue house to help out. Daria and her husband, David Stewart, renovated the home, which had accommodated tenants prior to the family moving in with their children, Luca and Giulia. Coleman recalled the home being large and warm, with the arrangements providing “mutual multi-generational care that was so apparent and beneficial to all.”

Missouri Street resident Mary Wasserman said her family were also close to the Iaconi's. “I knew her for a long, long time,” Wasserman said. “Our children grew up together. We had many, many social occasions together.” According to Wasserman, Mariuccia “was instrumental in establishing Esprit Park as a public venue. She was a fierce advocate for preserving that open space for the public.” Mariuccia was one of the Dolphin Club’s most senior members, according to Cantini. “She was respected by all the women there. I miss her very much,” she said.

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