Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 1, 2021.
Mary Lou Commiso (Age 81)
Of Washington, DC, peacefully passed away on January 25, 2021.
Mary Lou was born on October 31, 1939, in Washington, DC, the beloved and only child of
Louis and Josephine Commiso.
Her father served in the US Navy during World War II and Mary Lou's early years were spent
in a household that included her parents, her maternal grandparents, several uncles and
aunts, and cousins. She always spoke lovingly of those early years when she was
surrounded by the warmth of her large and loving family.
A 1957 graduate of Roosevelt High School (Washington, DC), Mary Lou was the
"Y-Teen Girl of the Year" in her junior year and was inducted into the National Honor Society
during her senior year. She attended Benjamin Franklin University, earning a bachelor's
degree in Commercial Science. Mary Lou had a 39 year career with the federal
government. She began as a secretary to Judge David Bazelon, US Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia, then served on the office staff of Deputy Attorney General Warren
Christopher. From there, Mary Lou served in a variety of managerial positions with the
Federal Parole Board and the National Institute of Corrections. She retired in 1996.
Mary Lou was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. She was kind, caring,
loving, and generous. She always made everyone feel welcomed and had a way of making
others feel special. Mary Lou was curious and adventurous, enjoying reading, music,
cooking/baking, theater, fishing, and traveling. The Delaware shore was dear to her heart
and she loved her time spent by its ocean and beaches.
Family was very important to Mary Lou. She was a devoted daughter who thought of her
mother as a mom, but also as her best friend. Bickering with one another was their
language of love. Mary Lou was devoted to all of her cousins, many of whom she thought of
as siblings. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease while in her 60s, Mary Lou did not have
the fun and carefree "senior years" she so richly deserved. But even as the disease took
away her memory, her ability to use and control her body, and her ability to speak, her life
force could at times shine through. She frequently smiled and sometimes laughed. And
once in a blue moon, on a very special day, she could manage to articulate a "Yes" or a
"No" to a simple question proving that deep inside her increasingly impaired mind and
body, there was still a level of understanding of the world around her.
A Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a later, safer date.
Those wishing to honor Mary Lou may donate in her name to the Alzheimer's Association at
<act.alz.org> or to the Sibley Memorial Hospital Foundation (donation specifically
designated to the Oasis Unit) at <sibleyfoundation29887.thankyou4caring.org>.