Josephine Bartoli Raguso passed away March 4, 2019, at her home in Canandaigua, New York surrounded by her loving family.  She was just shy of her 94th birthday.

Born March 14, 1925 in Donora, Pennsylvania to immigrant parents, Margaret and Anton Bartoli, “Josie” was the third of their five beautiful daughters.  At the time of her passing, she was the sole surviving sister.

After finishing high school in Donora, she attended New Castle School of Nursing in New Castle, Pennsylvania and graduated as a Cadet Nurse.  It was during that time that she met and married Anthony John Raguso, her husband of 58 years.

Josie was a complete original.  She loved people and she was very generous and thoughtful with both family and friends.  She kept abreast of current events and always had a book that she was reading so that she could readily discuss many different topics.  She was intelligent, had an incredibly sharp wit and always had a thirst for knowledge.  She loved to learn the meanings and the origins of words.

She enjoyed baking bread, pizzelles and anisette toast.  She loved chocolate, black coffee,  Camel non-filters, and scratch off lottery tickets.

Known as “Nini” to her grands and great grands, she took great pleasure in imparting knowledge to them, and frequently used their time together to teach them word origins or words from Italian, Croatian, German and Yiddish languages.

Her truly incredible sense of humor, even in her last days, was legendary.  The void created by her passing is tremendous and she will be sorely missed by her family and friends.

Josie was predeceased by her husband, Anthony in 2014 and her four sisters, Antoinette Bidzilla,  Margaret Vogini,  Hilda Stoioff, and Evelyn Jean Doziski.

Josie is survived by her four children: Bartley Raguso, Rebecca Raguso Snyder, Roger (Amy Jane Stewart) Raguso, Joanne (Jill Johnston) Raguso.

Her grandchildren: Emilie Raguso, Anton Raguso, Ariel Raguso, Aerin Raguso,

Adam (Christine) Karaoguz, Kara Karaoguz and granddog ,Epic.

Her great grandchildren: Aidan and Liam Bumpus,  Anna Josephine and Jacob Karaoguz and several nieces and nephews.

In her memory, donations may be sent to Ontario Yates Hospice.

 A celebration of her life will take place at a later date.


  1. from Josie’s first born, bart-

    Mom was a true lover of life and people, a woman of heart and mind, courage and valor.
    All who knew her felt her inherent respect for others and felt the brightness of her spirit.
    It is a mystery where she acquired the traits she possessed, for only those who grew up in her era,
    are familiar with the tenor of those faraway times. One of my cousins said someone should do
    a study of Josie and try to figure out what her secret was: how she could be so engaged in life,
    so tied to the moment, so imbued with vitality. But maybe her secret was simple: She loved life
    for what it was, she accepted people for what they were, and she maintained a curiosity about all things
    throughout her life.
    She was a woman of many parts, and had she been born in the current era, she may have been a writer
    or she may have run for Congress, for she had a sense of social justice, and resented those who were
    bullies or those who mistreated others. She possessed an intact value system, based in some part on
    her Catholic upbringing, for she was very much about ‘doing the right thing’ in every circumstance,
    and in every interaction. She would always be sending birthday cards, thank you notes, and graduation gifts
    to friends and relatives.
    There was another side to her irreverent wit which many people may not have known about:
    she often quoted Biblical Scripture in the form of pithy sayings which expressed some elemental wisdom.
    She was never one to express any religiosity, but her thinking never strayed far from a stout adherence
    to noble and I would even say Godly values. So I think many would agree that Mom was a very righteous
    person for she had distilled her values from her parents and her upbringing, but she had made them her own,
    and she lived her values everyday.
    I’m sorry I cannot be brief, but there are simply not enough words in the English language, for all the things
    I could say about Mum. Nothing really needs to be said, however, for her indomitable spirit will live on
    in the hearts and souls of all of us in the family, and I hope in everyone who had a chance to meet her.
    Biblical Scripture in the form of pithy sayings which expressed some elemental truth
    Being honest and straight-forward

  2. We have such great memories with her. We will keep her and the family in our prayers.

    The Campagna ‘s

  3. From bartley: to all who knew Josie nee Bartoli Raguso March 12th, 2019

    “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.” – Catholic Hymn Salve Regina, c. 1080

    I am sorry to report that Josie Raguso, my Mother, has passed from this vale of tears,
    but that she went peacefully and purposefully from this life,
    just as she had lived her life, with single-minded devotion to higher principles,
    confident that she had given all she had to give to those around her.
    Her focus and intensity burned brightly not briefly, but for her entire life,
    and her joie de vivre lighted and lightened the way for everyone around her.
    Others may disagree with how I see her, but everyone has a different take on
    this matrix we call life. I see a lot of very spiritual aspects to her character, although
    she never purported to be ‘religious’. She will always reside in my heart as a woman
    who denigrated easy explanations of deity, but actually lived every minute of her life
    as if she knew that this life was but a test of her faith and spirit and character, for she always
    acted as if there was a higher power she was accountable to.
    Thus, there are those who deny God but still live lives bursting with the vitality that God
    planted in us, somehow realizing that living life to the fullest demanded her full engagement,
    but did not require that she should accept any other human person’s explanation of who God is.
    I have known artists who painted gorgeous works of art and still described themselves as non-believers, but the irony is that they are really obeying God’s law more fully than some believers who do not
    behave lovingly toward their fellow creatures and never allow the joy of life itself to radiate outward
    to all others as fully as Josie Bartoli Raguso did her entire life.

    I am also sorry that the venue of the internet is how we are communicating all these things,
    for it is a poor substitute for real life and face to face contact. It is what we have to work with right now, and it will have to suffice for the moment.
    Josie’s family will be hosting a gathering in New York this summer for those able to attend, and I deeply apologize to all those who would attend if distance was not an impediment.
    The only positive aspect to posting messages online is that they may be kept there for some period of time and serve notice of some sort that we are joined together in our sadness for her passing, and also joined together in our mutual admiration for one who lived a vibrant life, with honesty, and courage.
    God bless all of her friends who have shared their condolences with me, and perhaps knew her even longer than I knew her. Thank you all for the love and kindness that you have expressed.
    Finally, as Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address, “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.” We can only go forward in the same Spirit Josie modeled for us, knowing that her real legacy, is the example of her kindness, her caring, and her joy in living life.

  4. Monday evening, 4th of March, 2019, about 6 PM

    Mom- resting easy and breathing softly, shortly before her passing-
    A world full of soul and a heart full of soul

    Dear Mom,

    this is one letter you will never read, for your once bright eyes have grown too dim now,
    to see any words written on paper and words are so limited anyway,
    being static and lacking the element of spontaneity which you once possessed in such abundance,
    but you loved words and language and meanings,
    and I would like to believe that loving words is one of the many gifts that you gave to me.

    Certainly you had a wide curiosity about how we talk to each other, and the origins of word meanings. And perhaps all of us ‘kids’, and grandkids, and even great grandkids, have learned from you to be curious about everything. And also to try to be precise in our own use of words, so that our meaning will be clear, and the content of our hearts and spirits will be open and honest.

    For that was another of your many gifts to all of us – that we should be honest and even-handed and examine all things with a clear intelligence. And lastly, to allow no false motives or insincerity to represent itself as truth. For above all things, you disliked those people who did not speak true words and did not reveal true feelings.

    I am not sure where those qualities were born; perhaps in your family home, perhaps in your Catholic upbringing and your training as a nurse dealing with life and death situations, when not being precise and diligent might mean the difference between some poor soul living or dying.

    So you chose to hone all those qualities and to sharpen them because they were the best weapon against sloppy behavior and sloppy thinking, against dishonesty and self-indulgence, and against false-heartedness. You focused all of your energy on honing those positive qualities into one cohesive surgical tool and used it to deal with the inequality of the world.

    But, even then, when you observed the ways of the world, and so often punctured the false behavior
    or false statements of the high and mighty, you saved some charity in your good heart for those who were not as honest as you, or who harbored dubious motives. For you were never malicious or mean-spirited in your observations, only critical of a lack of candor in others.

    Your dear sister, Hilda, my own precious God-Mother, had the same quality of relentless honesty; so I must surmise that you two made a pact together, to be honest, so that no dark motives would have any place to hide, or intrude on the joy of your spirits. God bless you both, and thank you both for the legacy which you have given us.

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