Obituary for Louise Marie Nappi Kivlin
April 7, 1928 – May 18, 2023
Louise Marie Nappi Kivlin was born in Varese in Northern Italy on April 7, 1928, the first child of Peter and Maria (nee: Casoli) Nappi. Her father came to America to work in Rockford, Ill., where he joined a cousin as a bricklayer.
At age 3, Louise and her mother followed him from Italy to Rockford, where she grew up. She graduated from St. James Parish Grade School and Rockford East High School. During her early years and while in school, she often became an interpreter and language teacher for her parents.
After high school graduation, she attended college for one year at St. Mary’s of Notre Dame. While there, she met and fell in love with Joseph Kivlin, a Notre Dame student, who was employed part-time as a chemistry laboratory assistant at St. Mary’s.
She graduated from Rockford College with a bachelor’s degree in home economics and went on to specialize in dietetics with an internship program at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. She and Joe married in 1951 following her completion of this program to become a registered dietitian and his graduation from law school.
They lived in the Washington, D.C. area for several years where she was employed as a hospital dietitian until their first child, Peter, was born. One year later, a second boy, Michael, was also born there.
She and Joe moved with their young family to Racine, where three more children were born: Mary, Joseph and John Patrick.
Louise was a member of the Advisory Board of Directors of the Sisters of St. Dominic. She was a member of the Junior League of Racine and its treasurer. She also served as a member of the Home and School Associations while her children were primary students at St. Rita School.
For many years, she spent several hours each week helping children who were being held in the juvenile detention section of the Racine County Jail. She listened to their cares and helped them pass the time by playing cards and ping pong. She taught some to knit. With basketball having been a craze in her high school, she developed a good set shot that surprised many of her detention kids.
She served as chair of an early Prairie School Auction, a fundraiser that has become an enormous annual event.
During the 1970s, she started The Decoupage Shop with neighbor Lynn Jones. Louise and Lynn hand-fabricated decoupage handbags, boxes and art items, sold decoupage materials, and gave classes to those trying to learn this challenging art form.
A special interest of hers was in kitchen layout and design. She enjoyed cooking and preparing different kinds of meals. Periodically, she baked a dozen loaves of bread as needed for her family. For many years she baked and decorated as many as two dozen stollen to give to friends and neighbors at Christmas.
Her recreation included gardening and watching many tennis and basketball tournaments. She enjoyed raising flowers, herbs and vegetables in gardens at home.
She began playing tennis soon after her marriage and remained dedicated to the sport, playing several days each week well into her 80s. Her 11 grandchildren were often the beneficiaries of her lessons and her enthusiasm.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on July 31 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
The family would like to extend their thanks for all the lovely notes and remembrances they have received. In lieu of flowers, donations to the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church would be appreciated.
Obituary and photo courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.