Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Isabel Masi

Isabel Masi got the most out of life by helping others

ST. PETERSBURG — Shut-ins knew Isabel Masi as the kindly woman who delivered them Meals on Wheels.

Her family knew her as a tireless provider who worked double shifts as a nurse's aide, then stretched a slim budget to feed nine people. Only those closest to Mrs. Masi knew how hard she had worked or the sadnesses she had endured. Few others would likely have guessed.

Mrs. Masi, who maintained a chipper attitude through the toughest times, died Oct. 28, of pancreatic cancer. She was 84.

A performer in Pennsylvania nightclubs and for the USO, Mrs. Masi never passed up an opportunity to sing and dance.

"She could dance the leg off a chair," said Rick Masi, her son.

Isabel Povelitis was born in Aliquippa, Pa., in the Pittsburgh area. She worked briefly as a shipyard riveter as a young woman and sang in clubs.

In 1954, she and husband, Rudolph Masi, moved to a small house in northwest St. Petersburg. "We didn't even know that we didn't have anything at the time," said Rick Masi, 58.

She embraced her Catholic faith and responded to any small stroke of luck by saying, "Praise the Lord." She held onto that faith after a freak car accident killed her daughter, Mary Alice, in 1966.

As the children grew up and Rudolph Masi died at age 60 from a blood clot, Mrs. Masi took in those who needed a place to stay. In the late 1990s, those briefly included former Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer player Craig Fossett, who had once played for a youth soccer team coached by Rick Masi, who also coaches soccer at Seminole High School.

Fossett, now 44 and a teacher at Armwood High School, recalled coming home at night to Mrs. Masi's house to find another microwave-ready meal in the fridge. "It was almost to the point where I would say, 'You're doing too much,' " Fossett said. "She would say, 'This is just what I do for people.' "

She showed up last year at the funeral of one of her son's former soccer players, who had died in a car crash. She didn't know the young man but wanted to console his parents.

She entertained veterans weekly by singing and playing the piano at the nursing home at Bay Pines VA Medical Center. Veterans looked forward to her visits, some bringing harmonicas to accompany her. She still visited after she was diagnosed in April with cancer and was in a wheelchair.

"I had to wheel her into every room," said Rudy Masi, Rick's twin brother. "She knew something personal about every one of them. 'This guy is a lieutenant colonel, he flew this kind of plane. This or that person is having a problem.'"

Said Rick Masi, "She used to say, 'Never forget our veterans.'"

Nor did others forget her. Scores of get-well cards arrived the last several months of her life. Hundreds packed St. Matthew Catholic Church in Largo for her funeral.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or [email protected]

Isabel Cecelia Masi

Born: June 5, 1927

Died: Oct. 28, 2011

Survivors: daughter Patricia DeWitt; sons Richard, Rudy, Steve and Danny Masi; brother George Povelitis; nine grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren.


Isabel Cecelia Masi

Born: June 5, 1927

Died: Oct. 28, 2011

Survivors: daughter Patricia DeWitt; sons Richard, Rudy, Steve and Danny Masi; brother George Povelitis; nine grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren.

Isabel Masi got the most out of life by helping others 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102