Della Caldirola Guilfoil, a retired social worker, devoted mother and grandmother, and a red-headed, indomitable spirit who inspired all who knew her, passed away on June 12 at the age of 87.
Ms. Guilfoil was born Della Grace Floyd in Richey, Mont. on Sept. 16, 1920, the second of seven children and the oldest daughter. She graduated from Havre High School, attended the Montana State College of Nursing in Bozeman and graduated as an R. N. from the Columbus Hospital School of Nursing in Great Falls in 1945.
Sadly, Ms. Guilfoil's parents died at an early age leaving her alone with her younger siblings. She placed them in the St. Thomas Orphanage in Great Falls, a kind and caring institution where she was able to visit them frequently as a surrogate "mom."
While working at Columbus Hospital, she met Carlo Caldirola, a ship's captain from Italy taken prisoner in New Orleans during the early days of WWII. He had subsequently been interned at Fort Missoula, Mont. and toward the end of the war became an orderly at Columbus Hospital. They were married and moved to Italy for three years.
Upon their return to the United States, they settled in Seattle where Carlo became an insurance agent and they raised four children, Dennis, Barbara, Marcia and Brian.
In her mid-40s, Ms. Guilfoil returned to school obtaining a B.A. degree in psychology from Seattle University and a M.S.W. from the University of Washington in 1967. She then worked as an obstetrics social worker at University Hospital for 17 years, helping hundreds of families deal with crisis pregnancies. Cards and letters from grateful parents continued to pour in long after she retired.
Tragically, Carlo died of cancer in 1971 at the age of 59. In 1986, Ms. Guilfoil became Dean of Students for Gonzaga University's campus in Florence, Italy where she is still remembered as the legendary "Mrs. C."
Later, Ms. Guilfoil met a Seattle veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Guilfoil who owned the Guilfoil (Elliott Bay) Animal Hospital in Magnolia. He shared her love of Italy so after they married, they retired there for eight glorious years. World-travelers, they visited most of the countries of Europe and even went to India to meet Mother Teresa, ultimately settling in Kona on the island of Hawaii. Dr. Guilfoil passed away on his 83rd birthday in 1993.
Ms. Guilfoil was also preceded in death by her daughter Barbara Caldirola and her siblings Dale, Merle, Dean and Barbara Floyd. She is survived by her children Dennis (Andrea Petrone), Marcia (Kris Salzer) and Brian Caldirola, her grandchildren Giancarlo and Marco Caldirola-Davis, Jilian and Skye Salzer and Giada Caldirola, her brother Pat Floyd and her sister Sr. Maureen Floyd, O.S.B.
Funeral Mass for Ms. Guilfoil is at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Aug. 8 at St. James Cathedral. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Ms. Guilfoil's memory to the Della Caldirola Guilfoil Scholarship Fund at Seattle University.[[In-content Ad]]