Ada Maria Merlini passed away in the sunshine of Wednesday, May 15, surrounded by her loving family at home. She lived a remarkable 3.5 years with pancreatic cancer in the fullness of her faith and gratitude—a serenity and peace amidst disease that became an inspiration to all.
Ada spent the first part of her life in Italy, whirling in the social delights of Florence, hiking the Dolomites, traveling abroad with her parents, nurturing lifelong friendships, and after university, discovering her love of the operating room as a Red Cross nurse. At a young age, she had the honor of meeting and befriending Padre Pio via the miracle of her own mother’s cancer. He became an important figure who would guide the spirituality of her entire family. In grateful dedication to Padre Pio, Ada’s father co-founded the world-renowned research hospital La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, which still thrives today in San Giovanni Rotondo. Throughout her life, Ada continued to share Padre Pio’s blessings with everyone who needed them. In times of distress, she always arrived with a blessed relic, able to hold a friend’s uneasiness or distress and still bring comfort through her love, humor, compassion and true fighting heart.
As a young mother, she followed her husband’s career to the States, recreating community with each move from Scarsdale to Rumson to lastly, Owasco. She adored her friendships and social engagements more than anything, always organizing gatherings and events, participating in her ever-expanding international community, and living out her true extrovert nature with elegance, grace, and humor. She had time for everyone, kindness for all, and was a ready participant for worthy causes, joining the Friends of JM in bringing a case to the steps of the Supreme Court. Her enthusiasm for life attracted endless students as well, who lined up for Italian classes for decades both privately and at the university level, and her students today still tell us she was a most beloved teacher. Ada kept up her ongoing remote lessons via Skype from the comfort of her couch throughout her illness. And every morning without fail, she read the Wall St Journal, revering certain journalists and shaking her fist at others. Her passion for language, culture, and politics remained her fire until the very end.
Ada leaves a wonderful legacy, having raised three beautiful daughters, Chiara (Kuhns), Francesca, and Lisa, who were the complete happiness of her life, along with her grandchildren Harry, George, Luca, and Clara Kuhns, her son-in-law Chris Kuhns, and the incredible love and devotion of her 48-year long marriage to her best friend and the love of her life, Neri, her constant companion. She said that although it would be hard for her to leave us all, the fact that she won’t be physically with us does not change a thing, because we will always be together in our hearts, each day of our lives. In the words of Padre Pio: “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”
Ada’s funeral mass will take place on Friday, May 31, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 90 Melrose Road, Auburn, NY 13021, with a reception to follow in the Parish Center.
Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza