CLEARWATER — Watching Pride and Prejudice, she knew the swashbuckling soldier was not right for Keira Knightley, that the seemingly haughty Mr. Darcy was really the one.
She knew these things because she watched the film often, sometimes several times a week.
Doris Savalli, a slightly plump woman with a wide smile and generous spirit, delighted in the courtly dress and language of the 18th century.
"I think she liked the old-time culture, the way we used to be a very long time ago," said her husband, Fred Savalli, 74.
And that Colin Firth was pretty cute, too.
In a life cut short by illness, Mrs. Savalli celebrated classical music, big dinners and motherhood. She died Wednesday of unknown causes. Mrs. Savalli was 73.
Doris Marcopoulos grew up in Brooklyn, sharing a two-story house with her extended Greek family. She shouldered responsibility for helping to take care of younger siblings, finding release on the piano.
In 1960 she met Fred Savalli, an aeronautical engineer, at a Christmas party. Afterward she said she would take the ferry; he insisted on driving her home.
They married several months later. Apart from helping her husband in a business venture, Mrs. Savalli devoted herself full-time to raising the couple's five children.
"She and I both felt that the highest calling for a woman is to be a mother," Savalli said.
For several years they lived in Japan and Saudi Arabia, following the demands of his job. They enjoyed living in countries thousands of years old.
In Clearwater most of the time since 1971, the Savallis opened their home to their friends and their children's friends. Anyone stopping by at dinner time was expected to take a plate, or at least stay for coffee.
She liked to play Beethoven and Mozart on the piano; around the house she sang show tunes — The Sound of Music, West Side Story.
Husband and wife "annoyed each other," said Marianne Vanness, Mrs. Savalli's daughter. But for nearly 48 years, the chemistry worked.
Vanness, 46, always wanted to be a mother like her mom. It's a learning experience, she said.
"I find the same things coming out of my mouth with my 16-year-old daughter: 'Is that what you're going to wear?' "
Mrs. Savalli entered Morton Plant Hospital recently for flu-like symptoms. Her husband suspects a drug-resistant infection might also have contributed to her death. In recent years, diabetes cost her most of her sight.
The Savallis still traveled to Orlando to hear their granddaughter play the cello with the Florida Young Artists Orchestra. After all, Mrs. Savalli told her family, she could still hear. And when she closed her eyes, she could still see.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2248.