1923 Caterina 2023

Caterina Sambataro

February 16, 1923 — May 11, 2023



Caterina (Coltella) Sambataro was born in Ornaro, Italy in February of 1923 to Pierino and Columba Coltella. She celebrated her birthday as February 16 for most of her life, until her mother told her that she was born several days beforehand, but they were delayed in reporting the birth due to a snowstorm. She was the second daughter of six children: Luigina, Sabatino, Maria, Adriana and Assunta. 
Caterina grew up on her parents' farm in Ornaro on Via Saleria (the old salt road leading to Rome), and lived through Mussolini's regime, and World War II. Years later she told stories German soldiers passing by the front of their house, while the Americans came by the back, so they had to watch both the front and back of her house. She remembered how some of the soldiers spoke Spanish and they would eat lunch with them. She remembered how young the soldiers were, and how her mother Columba saw them all as her children and would take care of them. An officer wanted Caterina, who was 16 at the time, to go nurse injured soldiers, so her father Pierino told them she was only 14 years old.
During the war, Caterina remembered the planes that flew over their home all the time. She told her grandchildren that they flew so close that they could see the pilots, and it made her sister shake when they dropped bombs. Her stories reminded her grandchildren of the impact of war on people who have no choice in the decisions of their leaders. 
After the war, when Caterina was 32, a friend of hers told their friends that she got a job as a secretary at the Italian embassy in Washington, DC, and asked if anyone wanted to go with her. Caterina raised her hand right away (years later she gave her grandchildren multiple reasons why, but one was that work was scarce in Italy after the war.) Caterina went to Rome first, and stayed with a family she knew there for a week, then traveled to Genova and boarded a boat for America from there. She was seen off by her brother, Sabatino, a police officer. 
Caterina left Genova, Italy on February 20, 1955, bound for Norfolk, Virginia. Their arrival in America was delayed due to storms, but the group of young Italian women passed the time together having fun singing songs. Once Caterina began working at the embassy, she met another Italian woman, Maria Del Vecchio. Maria, upon learning Caterina was single, remembered her nephew Eugene "Gene" Sambataro, who was close in age to Caterina, was also single, and it is a truth universally acknowledged (at least at the time), that a single Italian man of a certain age must be in want of a wife. 
Maria invited Caterina to a family party to introduce her to Eugene. The family had been trying to introduce Eugene, who was a shy, quiet man, to various girls, to no avail. Gene walked down the stairs of the party, took one look at Caterina, and went back upstairs to change his shirt. They were married at Holy Rosary Church on October 15, 1955. She later said that she was so happy that such a nice man, whom she affectionally called Genie, wanted to marry her. A year later, on October 2, 1956, their first child, a son, Anthony Eugene, was born, followed by a daughter, Anna Maria, on August 5, 1958. 
The Sambataros settled just outside of Washington, DC in the Maryland suburbs. Gene, a World War II Naval veteran, worked in the Naval yard as a machinist, while Caterina raised the children and ran the house. They took vacations to the beach in Ocean City, and back to Italy to visit Caterina's family over the years. Eventually, the American side of Caterina's family grew when Anthony married Jennifer (nee Maurer). Three grandchildren, Marisa Caterina, Laura Christina, and Daniela Theresa, followed. 
Caterina was adored by all of her grandchildren, who loved going to "Grandma and Nonno's" every weekend to play in her garden and eat her amazing Italian food. She also was loved by her two-great-grandchildren, Marisa's children Matthew and Micah, who will miss their Nonna very much. 
Caterina is preceded in death by her husband, Eugene, parents Columba and Pierino Coltella, brother Sabatino Coltella, and sisters Maria and Assunta. She is survived by her children Anthony and Anna, daughter-in-law Jennifer, grandchildren Marisa Ratliff, Laura, and Daniela, grandson-in-law Matt Ratliff, and great-grandchildren Matthew and Micah. She is also survived by two of her sisters: Luigina and Adriana, along with many adored nieces and nephews in Italy. She will be missed by all. 
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday May 16, 2023 at 11 AM at Our Lady of the Chesapeake Catholic Church 8325 Ventnor Road Pasadena, Maryland 21122. Interment Crownsville Veteran Cemetery.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Caterina Sambataro, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Our Lady of the Chesapeake Church

8325 Ventnor Rd, Pasadena, MD 21122

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

1:00 - 1:15 pm (Eastern time)

Crownsville Veteran Cemetery


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