Tomie dePaola
1934 - 2020
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Tomie dePaola was a children’s book author and illustrator whose hundreds of books included the Caldecott Honor-winning “Strega Nona.”

We invite you to share condolences for Tomie dePaola in our Guest Book.

Read Full Obituary.

Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Mar. 31, 2020.
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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50 entries
June 2, 2020
A great talent who will be missed. My family grew up on the Welsh Terrier kids, so much like our family Welsh Terrier. Rest in PEACE
Janice Simmons
May 9, 2020
My condolences to his friends and family. I have a great appreciation for his talent and artistry. Many years ago I picked up his 26 Fairmont chapter books and discovered my very own heritage written in the pages of Here we All are. You see, in his autobiography, Nona Fall River went to their Connecticut home to care for the family while Tomies mother went to the hospital to give birth to his baby sister. Nona Fall River lived in Fall River where Tomies Dad grew up. Nona came with lots of food and very special brick oven bread from Marzillis bakery. my grandfather who emigrated from Italy started the business in 1913. The bakery exists today. How special for my family and I to have this special gift for a lifetime. Thank you Tomie, and Rest In Peace.

Anna Cauchon
Anna Cauchon
Friend
May 3, 2020
My family grew up on Tomie's books. My dad would read us the Strega Nona books and we fell in love with the kindly Grandma witch who reminded us of our own Nonnie. We giggled over the chicken feet in "your" soup and wept at the touching stories of Tomie's grandparents. Every January 5 at bedtime, my dad would read us "The Legend of Old Befana" (sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep) and the next morning we woke up to discover Befana had left us treats. No one else we know had heard this legend before. Tomie's books are now enjoyed by another generation. My niece and brother like to make the bread dolls from Chicken Soup. Tomie's legacy will live on with them as they pass the stories and traditions on. Now one niece is set to visit Ireland and I think she will enjoy Tomie's Irish tales. Thank you Tomie for so many wonderful years of reading pleasure! You will be much missed
Alario Family
Acquaintance
May 1, 2020
Ive had the pleasure of meeting Tomie several times over the last decades. He was always warm and gracious, kind and generous with a warm contagious smile. He had a way of making me feel warm and loved. He always treated me as a friend and a family member. I believed that he would live on forever. I know its true because now he lives on through his volumes of literature. Heaven is lucky to have rich a wonderful gentleman amongst them. Hes with God and the angels that hes drawn and written about. Keep writing for us to read when we join you!! Miss you soooooo much. Rest In Peace my friend. May you send comfort to bob and all who love you
Donna Matra
Friend
May 1, 2020
I loved Tomie from the moment we met. We only saw each other a few times over the years but each time was memorable and we always wrote to each other at Christmas. He never lost his inner child which is why I think his books are so magical. He was like a comet that sped through my life from time to time always sprinkling enough stardust to last until the next time. There is a new shining star in the heavens
Cynthia Olson
Friend
May 1, 2020
What a thrill it was to have our childrens favorite author come to their school, such a wonderful man.
Michelle Randall
April 29, 2020
I LOVE the daily updates at Tomie.com. I live in NH and I have traveled far and wide to get in line to speak to Tomie. When I was an education student at Plymouth State in the 1970s, he was a guest in my Kiddie's Lit class and I felI in love. I teach 4th grade and my kids always wrote to him for his bday and he always wrote back. Once, I was staying at an inn on the cape and as I was getting my bags out of my room, I looked to my right and saw a man sitting outside of his room writing in a journal. I noticed his hat said, "Tomie" and I knew exactly who it was. "Tomie?", I asked. He looked at me like he was trying to figure out where he knew me from and I said, "I'm just a fan" and we chatted. I told him when I teach my 4th graders about the state of NH, he's on my bulletin board right next to the Old Man of the Mountain. He got a kick out of that. I told him I loved him and that meeting him felt like I was meeting one of the Beatles. "I hope it's one of them that is alive" was his answer. I bought one of his angels at the Cove Gallery and it's one of my favorite possessions. Thank you for posting and sharing his life with us!! When he passed, many of my friends contacted me because they know how much I love him and his books.
Karen O'Shaughnessy
April 25, 2020
I was introduced to your books as a child. Now, as a mother, I read them to my children, and they enjoy the stories as much as I did. Thank you for all the great stories and memories. You will be missed.
May Winn
Friend
April 23, 2020
How blessed I was to meet Tomie around 1981 through A Children's Place Bookstore, to travel to Italy on a booktour with him, celebrate his 60th birthday with a zillion others at his home, work with him on a children's TV show, and have him endorse my work for teachers. Most importantly, his books were the bedrock, the staple of my classroom collection of books for all the years that I taught. I know I introduced his work to hundreds of children and am so happy for that. Many of those classrooms went to the local Portland TV show AM Northwest to be in the audience when he was here and he also stopped by my classroom and school when he was on a booktour in Portland oh so many years ago. Tomie was involved in so many highlights of my life. My home is filled with Tomie art and collections that will continue to inspire me and my family for the rest of our lives. Please, read one of his books to your children sometime soon!! Rest in peace my friend and holy inspiration!!
Val Hornburg
Friend
April 23, 2020
How blessed I was to meet Tomie around 1981 through A Children's Place Bookstore, to travel to Italy on a booktour with him, celebrate his 60th birthday with a zillion others at his home, work with him on a children's TV show, and have him endorse my work for teachers. Most importantly, his books were the bedrock, the staple of my classroom collection of books for all the years that I taught. I know I introduced his work to hundreds of children and am so happy for that. Many of those classrooms went to the local Portland TV show AM Northwest to be in the audience when he was here and he also stopped by my classroom and school when he was on a booktour in Portland oh so many years ago. Tomie was involved in so many highlights of my life. My home is filled with Tomie art and collections that will continue to inspire me and my family for the rest of our lives. Please, read one of his books to your children sometime soon!! Rest in peace my friend and holy inspiration!!
Bill Hornburg
Friend
April 21, 2020
I was deeply saddened to learn of Tomies death. I am a recently retired elementary teacher and ALL of my former students know Tomies work well from the units we did. Tomie was hands down my favorite childrens author and illustrator. I wrote to him once to share this and received a cherished response. I have nothing but live, respect and admiration for him and his work. I would love to see a movie made of his life. One of my biggest wishes was to meet Tomie someday. I regret that I was not lucky enough for that to happen. My own children enjoyed the many dePaola books I read to them over the years. My oldest bought me Tomie dePaola: His Art & His Stories for my birthday after his passing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am such a fan of his work. I am in absolute awe of his talent and the generous way he shared his gift with the world. My condolences to his family and friends.
Gail Kenyon
Teacher
April 19, 2020
My heartfelt condolences to the dePaola family. May you find comfort in the many expressions of thanks to Tomie for his gift of storytelling and illustrations that old and young will enjoy for generations to come. My thoughts and prayers are with you requesting that you experience the peace of God knowing that he cares deeply for you and your loss.
April 18, 2020
My condolences to the dePaola family and friends. May you find comfort from fond memories. May God provide peace and endurance to your family today, tomorrow, and always.
April 18, 2020
Our world will miss you, Tomie dePaola! I met you several times and have signed books from Lorson's in Fullerton and the FESTIVAL OF BOOKS in Los Angeles. I loved your writing and art so much that we have 4-5 of your signed art prints in our house. I have your stuffed characters, your Christmas ornaments, and your Christmas Nativity. I have shelves that you designed, candles you designed, and wall hangings, as well. I am a retired kindergarten teacher and the first chapter book I read to my kids was 26 Farimount Avenue. I followed it up with Here We All Are. My kids wanted to read the next book, but I wanted them to be inspired to seek you out on their own. Teaching in a Catholic School, I would always read your books and tell the kids, guess who wrote and illustrated this book. When they saw your cover artwork, all would say in unison, "Tomie dePaola!" St. Francis, The Legend of the Poinsettia, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Patrick, and so many more wonderful, beautiful books were heard by my Kinder Kids. You made the world so beautiful in so many ways, not just for kids, but for adults as well. You will forever be in my prayers. God bless your family members as they traverse through this very difficult time. And, God bless your soul. Your books glorify Our Lord and I am sure He is well pleased with you. Hoping to see you in heaven.
Love Always, Your Forever Fan,
Debbie
Debbie G.
Teacher
April 17, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Janet Moody
April 17, 2020
Please accept my sincere condolences to the dePaola Family. May Almighty God in the Heavens comfort your hearts with his everlasting love and strength to help you cope through the difficult days ahead as Mr. Tomie will be missed. Thank you for his contribution to children books.
T.T.
April 17, 2020
I remember seeing Tomie on "Barney & Friends" as a small child. I also read his books too. He was a wonderful person and full of life. God bless you all!
Alex Bogue
Acquaintance
April 15, 2020
I had the great pleasure of attending a breakfast put on by the Vancouver Childrens Literature Roundtable where Tomie was the keynote guest. He was witty, charming and just a little bit naughty. Of course he had his audience of teachers and librarians in the palm of his hand. My children, grandchildren and I will miss him terribly but his great gifts and wonderful spirit will live on. RIP Tomie and a heartfelt thank you ❤
Jenny Wright
Teacher
April 15, 2020
My son and I put a letter in the mail to Tomie just a week or so before wed heard of his passing. I grew up with Tomie and the unique style of his illustrations stuck with me. When my son William, 5, and I discovered the 26 Fairmount Avenue series last year, it was true love! I love that Tomies books have become a special shared interest between my son and me, and we are so thankful for the beauty that brought to us and to the world.❤
Rebecca Coyer
Friend
April 14, 2020
Tomie was very loved by our family. My daughters grew up reading all of his books, and one of our most precious and meaningful is "The Baby Sister" which we read a million times with our first while expecting our second, just like Tomie and Maureen. Tomie shared his life in his books and we will be forever grateful that we've had the privilege of knowing him through his words and beautiful artwork. We are praying for his family and friends, knowing Tomie left an incredible legacy with us.
The Smythe Family
April 11, 2020
I am truly sorry for the loss of such a great man. I pray for his family to be blessed, comforted, and to know how grateful we all have been for his beautiful stories.
Corryn McBride
Teacher
April 11, 2020
We were fortunate to know such an excellent role model for living a worthwhile life. Thank you for so many gifts. We will miss you and remember you, never forgetting your contributions.
Beverly Pietlicki
Acquaintance
April 11, 2020
My deepest condolences to the family. May you find comfort in your treasured memories of Your loved one and May God continue to comfort you in the days, months and years ahead.
April 11, 2020
"Seeking Strega Nona"

I journeyed to Calabria
to seek out Strega Nona.
I first went to the bakers shop
and spoke to Bambalona.

She did not know her whereabouts;
I walked down to the square.
I asked Signora Rosa but
she hadnt seen her there.

The mayor pointed up the hill, said,
look there if you please.
Where Grandma Witch
helps everyone by making remedies.

No line was formed outside her door,
the goats were penned out back.
The pasta pot sat empty
in the humble, little shack.

Coming up the hill with milk
I spied Big Anthony.
He said,
Go check Concettas cottage by the sea.

I traveled for a distance,
then I saw the house in reach.
I heard the waves crash on the sand,
along the pebbled beach.

The cottage still and silent
as I opened up the door,
For she was out collecting shells
upon the rocky shore.

As I approached she smiled at me,
her eyes were hiding pain.
Could it be true? I asked her,
Will things ever be the same?

She sat me down, she took my hand,
and spoke to me of change.
And how to treasure memories,
she kindly did explain.

Just find the place where you feel close,
was her advice to me.
She feels closest to her kin
at the cottage by the sea.

I went back home; I sat alone.
And then I realized--
I only need to open books
for him to come alive!

~In memory of Tomie DePaola
Lisa Johnson
April 11, 2020
I loved reading Tomie's books to my (now grown) children and to the students at the elementary school where I have worked for the last 20 years, mostly in the library. He will be mourned and missed.
Margaret Connor
April 10, 2020
Our family loved Tomie's books and he will be remembered as a giant in the world of children's literature. Deepest condolences to the family.
Ann Jacobus Kordahl
April 10, 2020
I have been reading his books to my students for 25 years. Thank you for your stories. May your memory and books continue to be a blessing to many.
Laura Tusa
Teacher
April 10, 2020
I was very fortunate to have Tomie as an art teacher while I was in college. He made a huge impression on me and my art. His books were part of our family life raising three daughters. They were the favorite books on the shelf. I still read many of his books to my Sunday school students. They are equally in love with his stories and illustrations. I am so sad that he will no longer be creating his art and books. I am happy to have so many memories of my college classes with him. One of my favorites is when he invited our class to dinner at his beautiful home, Whitebird. He was a great entertainer, cook and decorator. Sending my sympathies to his friends and family. He will be missed.
Cinda Stone
Student
April 9, 2020
I homeschooled my children from day 1, always a Catholic education, and taught them to read with Tomie's books. I still own every single book I used with my kids and continue to grow the collection so that, one day, I can read them to my grandchildren. I'm so grateful to Tomie for the difference he made, unknowingly, in my family's life. I hope to meet you one day in Heaven. I can only imagine the books you're writing and illustrating there! Thank you for the memories!
Vivian Zetwo
April 9, 2020
I am deeply saddened by his loss. He has always been and will be my favorite author. There is nothing more amazing than to grow up in the same town that your favorite author lived in. Tommy was the subject of many school written projects of mine thru the years. His artwork always made me feel happy calm and safe. He will always be an amazing gentleman weather here with us or in the stars guiding our childrens reading! Love you so very much tommy!! Hope all of his family and close friends are staying well and find the strength to carry on.
Mariann Hayes
Friend
April 9, 2020
I did an art project with him that I still have!
Birdie French
Friend
April 9, 2020
I loved watching how Tomie's stories drew my children in.
Adam French
Friend
April 9, 2020
I first met Tomie in the spring of 1965, when we were both in the Colby Junior College production of Shakespeares As You Like It. The director must have realized the peril of casting a 17 year old high school student (me) as the 80 year old Adam, because it was not long before Tomie was tapped to try to teach this kid how to act like he was ancient and decrepit. The level of success is a matter of debate, but it is clear that Tomie had far more success teaching the world to act younger than their chronological age than he did with me, trying to teach the reverse. I had the opportunity to sit down with Tomie a few years ago, when he was judging the student artwork at the New London Historical Societys Young At Art program. Seeing and talking with this spry 80+ year old literary icon made me realize that he may have been the wrong person to teach me how to act like an old man. He clearly never grasped the concept himself.
Tom Little
April 9, 2020
Strega Nona was the best!
Marti Garlett
Acquaintance
April 9, 2020
Though many miles separated us and we met late on, my heart will never, ever forget Tomie. My granddaughter has his autograph on her books, but I have his forever on my soul. We shared a love of our dogs, the beauty of life and the healing that laughter brings.
Linda Milanesi
Friend
April 9, 2020
Were very grateful to have shared a special relationship with Tomie. Ray and I were shocked and saddened to learn of his death. It was like learning a Star had burned out. But our faith comforts us with the belief it was only Tomies body that gave out. His very essence, his well-travelled soul, we expect to encounter again after our transition, and migration.
Brian McNaught Ray Struble
Friend
April 9, 2020
How we loved Tomie, our whole family does to this day. His wonderful books, his wonderful life filled with laughter and love. We will so miss him.
Kathleen Hammer
Friend
April 9, 2020
Thank you for all the smiles your books gave my kids and grandkids. RIP Tomie.
David
April 9, 2020
I loved all of his books he came to John Barry School in Meriden several times to read books. We all got to meet him he's gone to the library's he was very nice and he would answer any questions the kids would ask. I'm sad that he's gone but may his legacy of beautiful wonderful books and stories live on forever. God bless his family and his animals.
Lisa Natter
Teacher
April 9, 2020
Our memories of Tomie are treasured. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and to Bob. He will be missed.
Sara Scungio
Friend
April 8, 2020
My deepest sympathies to all for the loss of such an amazing spirit. The joy he brought to so many by sharing of his talents will be so missed, but his works will live on and be enjoyed for generations. What a joy!
Sandi Russell
Acquaintance
April 8, 2020
Prayers for your family.
Lisa Short Bull
Teacher
April 8, 2020
Tomie, you have brought our family so much joy and you have helped me view the world with a lighter heart!
Liz Welch
April 8, 2020
His books and art have sustained and cheered my, my children and students for decades. Such a beautiful creative soul. We miss you here and wish you well on your next great journey, Nancy Bo Flood
nancy bo flood
Acquaintance
April 8, 2020
He has had and will continue to have a beautiful impact on our family. We are grateful for his willingness to share his talents with the world. May he Rest In Peace!
Waldrop Family
A Waldrop
April 8, 2020
Mr. Tomie...
Your books have brought joy, laughter and love to our home and my daycare. I have a big collection and still looking for more. I wish you a peaceful rest and blessings from the Lord. God Bless you ❤
Mrs. Dana Bailey
Dana Bailey
April 8, 2020
Condolences to Tomie's family on the loss of such an inspirational man. I started following him in my early days (80's) of teaching and shared them with my family as well. He was an inspiration to many and used his gifts and talents to reach people through many avenues. All of his followers both young and old felt they "knew him" through his his wonderful art and literature. What a legacy he has left for us. Enjoy your heavenly home, Tomie.
Karen Williams
Teacher
April 8, 2020
Thank you, Tomie for Peace, your art and joy. I will miss you.
Yvette Pompa
Teacher
April 8, 2020
Prayers & Condolensces to the family from The LaVoie, Coleman, & Cruz family.
Jennifer LaVoie-Cruz
Family
April 8, 2020
Tomie and the Gaffney's
Jennifer Fairfield
Friend
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