Magdalena Gabriella Holochwost, Barrington


Magdalena Gabriella (Cariaggi) Holochwost, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. She was known by many names: Magda by her friends; Mother by her children Peggy Mello, Elizabeth and Gregory Holochwost; Grandma Maggie by Emily and, her namesake, Maggie Mello, Maura and her late husband Tom O’Brien, and William and George Holochwost. Her great granddaughter, Georgia Obrien affectionately called her Nonna. She also leaves son-in-law Fred Mello and daughter-in-law Patricia Holochwost.

The importance of family and friendship were defining ideals in Magda’s life. She was born in Milan, Italy in 1918, and at age 10 she and her beloved brother Gus moved to New York with no knowledge of the English language. They came with only one parent, Augusto Manfredi Cariaggi, their mother having passed shortly after Magda’s birth.

Always longing for belonging, Magda was brought to tears when she found at 86 that she was in fact all along an American, learning that her mother Bessie Hyams was a Jewish Opera singer whose hometown was Chicago prior to moving to Italy.

Magda loved to put together an outfit, and only stopped wearing high-heeled shoes in the final few years of her life, but as an adolescent, her clothes were modest compared to her classmates who would say, “Who needs fancy clothes with a personality like Magda Cariaggi’s?”

This effervescence and ability to adapt in her formative years, readied Magda for a lifetime of making friends from all walks of life. She picked up languages with ease as she navigated new cities across three continents as the wife of army officer Lt. Colonel George Holochwost, whom she married in New York City in 1940. A consummate hostess, she entertained neighbors and diplomats in Cameroon, Germany, and the U.S. with grace. She saw every person as having a purpose in making life meaningful and each person she met felt immediately valued by her.

Moving over 27 times in less than 30 years, Magda was an integral part of each community in which she lived; among those she loved were Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas; Schwäbisch Gmünd, Ramstein and Bitburg, Germany; and Monterey, Calif.

After many years of travel, Magda’s family moved to their final and cherished home of Barrington. There she was a member of St. Luke’s Church and the Barrington Women’s Club. She enjoyed meeting new people while working at the local stores Cherry and Webb and Crossed Sabers. Always restless, Magda’s activities included bowling and golf, in addition to her excellent bridge game.

A memorial Mass was held at St. Luke's, Barrington, on Jan. 2. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Barrington Preservation Society, P.O. Box 178, Barrington, RI 02806 or Tapin, 281 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806. Visit for on-line condolences.


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