Louise Antinori, 75, of Tampa dies; she enjoyed family, literature, foreign languages — and boxing

Published April 21, 2012


She was born and raised in a tiny Pennsylvania town, surrounded by mills and mines, but something inside her longed for more.

Louise Antinori left her home outside Altoona for Washington, D.C., as soon as she finished high school. She then immersed herself in education, arts and culture.

"She had a passion for knowledge, and she had a passion for imparting knowledge to others," said her husband, Paul Antinori, a Tampa attorney who served as state attorney for Hillsborough County in the 1960s.

Mrs. Antinori died April 8 of a heart attack in her Tampa home. She was 75.

"It was Easter Sunday," said her brother, David Bonski. "We had just gotten home from church when we got the call. It was a shock, to put it mildly. There was no illness, no infirmity, nothing that could have prepared us for this."

Her husband found her lying on her bed that morning. She had woken up and started her day, and even made her bed, but apparently lay back down and passed away.

Paul Antinori and his wife met at a dance in Washington, back when he was a law student and she worked in the fingerprint department of the FBI.

"As soon as I saw her I thought, there's something special about this girl," Antinori said. "Before long I was in love with her. I knew this was the girl I was going to marry."

They married in 1960 and moved to Tampa, which was Paul Antinori's hometown. From then on they made their home in the Tampa area, including a residence in Brandon in the 1970s. Over the years they also had residences in Massachusetts, Maine and Pennsylvania.

She had started college in Washington but didn't finish. Once her three children were grown, Mrs. Antinori enrolled at the University of South Florida, where she earned a degree in English literature and for a while joined the faculty. She later earned her master's degree in literature from St. John's College in Maryland.

But her passion for learning didn't end with literature. She also became fluent in Russian and Italian.

Her love of the Italian language may have had to do with her love of opera. Paul and Louise Antinori served as president and vice president respectively of the San Carlo Opera Association of Tampa, which brought grand opera to the city in the era before the Straz Center and Opera Tampa.

"She didn't like small talk; couldn't stand gossip," her husband said. "If she talked to you, she wanted to talk about something that had some meaning. She talked about issues. She talked about ideas."

She was passionate about opera and literature, but she also loved boxing. Her husband had big-name boxers among his clients, and the Antinoris traveled all over the world, with ringside seats at some of the legendary fights of the 1970s. Mrs. Antinori immersed herself in the sport and read everything she could about it until she became somewhat of an expert. During one fight, a boxer who had been knocked out by Muhammad Ali was still lying on the canvas when he turned to Paul Antinori, sitting ringside. The battered boxer said he had a headache and asked for an aspirin. Mrs. Antinori pulled one from her purse and handed it to him, her husband said.

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In recent years, the Antinoris had spent more time in Pennsylvania to be closer to family. Mrs. Antinori's mother died three years ago, but before then she had been in a nursing home. Her brother's mother-in-law was also in the same facility, and Mrs. Antinori visited often.

"Every time she'd visit, she'd bring gifts," Bonski said. "Not just for my wife's mother, but for everyone in the nursing home. She'd bring them all gifts, arts or crafts that they could do. That was just how she was. She was so giving, so generous."

Besides her husband and her brother, Mrs. Antinori is survived by her daughter Camille Antinori, her sons Paul and Maxim and five grandchildren.

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