Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mamie Lazzara Buscemi | 1924-2011

Mamie Buscemi, bookkeeper and artisan, dies

CARROLLWOOD — When Mamie Buscemi was growing up in Ybor City during the Great Depression, sewing was a matter of practicality and frugality.

In adulthood, when money wasn't so much of an issue, sewing and crocheting became Mrs. Buscemi's passions.

"She was so artistic," said her daughter Kathleen Martino. "She sewed her own clothes, everything from suits to undergarments. She once took a flour sack and bleached the sack and made a suit out of it. She sewed curtains for her house, and not just simple little curtains, but big, flowing drapes. And she crocheted afghans for everyone in the family — 18 afghans."

Mrs. Buscemi died on Dec. 17 after several months of declining health. She had turned 87 just 10 days earlier.

Her creative talents weren't limited to fabrics. She created floral arrangements that were sold by the St. Joseph's Hospital Auxiliary to help raise money for the hospital. Her Italian meals and her cakes were works of visual and gustatory art, her daughter said.

But unlike the stereotypical artist, she had a passion for math. While her creative endeavors were mostly hobbies, her math skills translated into a career. She was a bookkeeper for the Hillsborough County School District for many years and later for First National Bank. She also had a career as a Realtor later in her life.

She also was active in the Democratic Party and served as a delegate at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, her daughter said.

She was born and lived virtually all her life in Tampa. Her mother was an Ybor City cigar maker. Her father delivered ice in the summer and fuel in the winter.

She graduated from Hillsborough High School and not long after that met her husband, Michael, while she was visiting a cousin in New York. They married shortly after World War II and lived in Deland while her husband studied law. They returned to Tampa where he opened his law practice, first in downtown Tampa and then on Busch Boulevard. The family still owns the office complex, Buscemi Plaza, that was the site of his law office.

The couple had three children and lived for many years in Wellswood. They moved to Carrollwood in the 1960s. Michael Buscemi died from a heart attack in the 1980s.

As a mother, her children say Mrs. Buscemi never had to be a disciplinarian because she led by example.

"The greatest thing was how she lived every single day," Martino said. "She never spent any time on resentment. If there was something that was bothering her, she'd say 'I think about it for five minutes, and then I throw it over my shoulder and I never look at it again.'

"She didn't like intolerant people. Or, I should say, she didn't have patience for intolerant people, because there was nobody she didn't like."

Besides her daughter, Mrs. Buscemi is survived by her sons Frank and Michael, eight grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and a sister.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Mamie Buscemi, bookkeeper and artisan, dies 12/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 24, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  3. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.
  4. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  5. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.