Josephine “Beppa” Lencioni, affectionately known as Nonna, passed away peacefully January 20, 2023, surrounded by her loving family. She will be remembered for her sweet and caring personality. Josephine was full of life, laughter and always on the go.
Josephine was born December 30, 1927, in San Colombano, Lucca, Italy to Giuseppe and Anita Lorenzetti. She was the older of two children. Although her immediate family was small, she had a large extended family that instilled in her a love of God, respect, and joy that she would share with others throughout her lifetime.
She was an Italian immigrant who survived WWII and the Nazi occupation of her homeland and went on to live an amazing life that unfolded over 95 years. During WWII, Josephine would bring food to the young men who were hiding from the German soldiers. One of those young men was John Lencioni, whom she fell in love with and married on June 23, 1946. They would go on to celebrate sixty three years of marriage.
One week after their wedding, John sailed to America seeking to provide a better life for his new bride and their future family. One year later, Josephine boarded a ship to America with her sister-in-law, Mary Pedeflous. The two arrived in New York but were separated at Ellis Island. The nineteen-year-old immigrant who knew no English, would travel alone by train for the remainder of the cross-country trip. When she finally arrived in Bakersfield, she was greeted by her husband. She told John they could stay for one year and then return to Italy.
That quickly changed. Josephine fell in love with America and made it her home for seventy six years. In 1971, she earned her American citizenship which was an accomplishment she was extremely proud of. She remained faithful to her Italian ancestry and was an active member of the Italian Catholic Federation (ICF) and the Italian Heritage Dante Association (IHDA), where she was well known for her cooking and was awarded IHDA’s Woman of the Year for her contributions to the club.
Family was most important to Josephine. She was a homemaker who spent her life devoted to her husband, seven children, nineteen grandchildren, and thirty great grandchildren. Her husband’s success of building Colombo Construction into one of Kern County’s preeminent construction companies, would not have been possible without Josephine’s unwavering love, support, and hard work.
Parties and dinners at Josephine’s house were the best. On holidays, Sundays, or any given day of the week, the Lencioni family home would host and feed family, friends, priests, and strangers. Her husband would often meet a person down on his luck on the side of the road and invite them home for dinner. She never knew who might show up but she always made the meal stretch and no one was ever turned away. Her handwritten recipes are a precious and treasured family heirloom. Recipes for her homemade ravioli, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, famous spinach dressing, and the family favorite rovilline will be celebrated for generations.
Josephine enjoyed spending time with family and friends, cooking, eating, playing cards/bingo, and traveling. She never turned down an invitation to celebrate birthdays, weddings, graduations, or milestones in the family. She never seemed to slow down. Her last trip to Italy, at 87, was special as she was able to share it with many family members. Josephine was able to see her friends and family and have dinner at her childhood home. Even at the age of 89, she traveled to Notre Dame for her granddaughter’s wedding. Josephine was loved and respected by so many. She leaves behind a devoted family who will miss her deeply.
Josephine was preceded in death by her husband, John Lencioni, her oldest son, Joe Lencioni, her parents, Giuseppe and Anita Lorenzetti, her brother, Carlo Lorenzetti,
Josephine is survived by her family that includes 6 children and their spouses, Anita Waits (Mark), Diane Altergott (Ken), Jim Lencioni (Brenda), Anna Spencer (Rocky), John Carlo Lencioni (Michelle), Maureen Bryan (Dale), nineteen grandchildren and thirty great grandchildren.
Funeral service will be held Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at St. Francis Church. Rosary at 9:30 am, Catholic Mass at 10:00 am. Entombment will follow at Hillcrest Mortuary.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bakersfield Community Hospice, St. Francis Church or a charity of your choice.