ASHTABULA — Mary Bernato, age 95, died Wednesday, August 14, 2013, at her home surrounded by her loving family.
She was born Feb. 9, 1918, in Ashtabula, Ohio, the daughter of James and Rose (Adams) Pavolino. Mrs. Bernato was a 1936 graduate of Ashtabula High School and attended the Cleveland Institute of Music for 2 years and Kent State University Park Avenue for 2 years.
Her love of Music began at an early age. Beginning her piano lessons with Miss Joyce as her instructor at the young age of 8, by age 12 she was learning the organ from Rose Fiorenzo. At age 12, she began playing the 7:30 Sunday High Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. It was at this same service that she began her “Little Girls Choir”, rehearsing with them weekly. She continued to play this service while becoming the organist at Mother of Sorrows Church from 1947 - 1961. It was in 1961 that she became the full time organist for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church playing all services for 60 years. She also started and directed the Mt. Carmel Adult Mixed Church Choir in the early 60’s. Mary finished her church career as organist of the First Congregational Church with 75 total years as a Church Organist. It was often said that Mary prayed through her fingers.
Her life ambition was to be a teacher and that was fulfilled with over 100 weekly piano students. She was the accompanist for Paul Parnell’s Sicilian Choir and His Men’s Choir. She volunteered her musical talent at St. John High School and Mt. Carmel School for several years. Her music was a profound gift and expression of her faith. Mary was employed at the Music Director at WICA Radio Station (Now WFUN) from 1943 to 1950. It was during this time that her own show aired live, Mary Pavolino’s Organ Melodies.
Mrs. Bernato was a charter member of the Ashtabula County Mended Heart Society, serving as secretary and reporter; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Altar and Rosary Society; Our Lady of Peace Altar and Rosary Society; and The Italian Sons and Daughters of America.