On January 31, 2013, Velma Marie Cozzutto, 92, went to be with her Lord and Savior while at Pacific Care Center. She was again reunited with her husband after a patient wait of 4 years.
Velma was born in Kalona, Iowa on January 5, 1921, the oldest daughter of nine children, to Lee and Lena Schlabach. The Schlabach family moved to Portland, Oregon in 1937.
In the coming years Velma would spend two years working at a mission in Portland where she taught Sunday School classes, vacation Bible school, after-school clubs and summer camps. Velma was a voracious reader and spent many hours taking advantage of the library at the mission. She ventured from Portland to Los Angeles to attend Biola Bible College where during her two years at Biola, Velma again found time to volunteer at a city mission. She would teach Sunday school and help with the summer camps for the local children.
With World War II over, Velma felt the desire to volunteer for relief work in war torn Europe but would have to spend a year in Akron, Pennsylvania, working at the Mennonite Central Committee Headquarters, before she was offered a position with a team that was heading to Italy to distribute clothing.
Arriving in Torre Pelleci, Italy in 1947, Velma worked with the unit in the Waldensian Valleys. She had the opportunity to create a much-needed “family” atmosphere for the diverse group of a dozen Americans as they dealt with the shattered lives of those who had gone through the war. The high point of her time in Torre Pellice was the two months of summer colonies where they recruited young Waldensian people from throughout Italy to work with the unit in bringing children from the cities to help rehabilitate them with a month-long stay in the mountains.
In 1949, Velma signed up for two more years and moved to Naples with a smaller group. It would be in Naples that she would meet her future husband, Giampaolo (Paul) Cozzutto who was a young policeman and in the Waldensian Church. They married in 1950 and soon their American adventure would begin. In the late winter of 1951, with a newborn baby in her arms, Velma boarded a ship bound for America and a train ride to Oregon where she would wait for several months until the family could be reunited in the Spring.
The journey to Aberdeen would take its route through Portland, Cathlamet, Ellensburg and Thorp before coming to a rest at 801 S. Lewis Street and then to 1029 Fordney, Paul’s piece of America.
As Paul had obtained his teaching degree while living in Ellensburg, Aberdeen became the place that they would settle for the rest of their lives.
Taking up residence in Aberdeen in 1960, Velma, a mother of four, also undertook several professions that included being a teachers aide at Stevens School, a Sunday School teacher, a secretary at Grays Harbor College and a 40 year career of writing over 500 articles for her newspaper columns in the Aberdeen Daily World and authoring two self published books, Common Sense & Common Ground and When your Father Says, Come with me.
Velma is survived by three brothers; two sisters; and her children, Adriana Akers (Brad) of Edmonds, Jane LeGette (Jim) of Spokane, Paula Breeding (Tom) of Driscoll, Texas and Lyndon Cozzutto (Candy) of Aberdeen, and their families.
The family welcomes you to a celebration of her life at 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, February 23, 2013, at the South Aberdeen Baptist Church, 620 Fordney Street, Aberdeen, Wash.
Memorials may be made to South Aberdeen Baptist Church, 620 Fordney Street, Aberdeen, Wash., 98520 the Union Gospel Mission, 405 E. Heron St. Aberdeen, Wash. 98520 or to the charity of your choice.