Lena Bruno Maggio, 93, retired psychologist and painter

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Michelena Annaloro Bruno Maggio, 93, formerly of East Falls, a retired psychologist and amateur painter and sculptor, died Friday, Aug. 4, of respiratory failure at Rosemont Presbyterian Village, where she had lived for four years.

Camera icon Courtesy of the family

Michelena Annaloro Bruno Maggio holding her grandson Peter James Maggio.

Dr. Maggio had two notable family connections in Philadelphia: as the wife of Peter J. Maggio, president of the M. Maggio cheese company; and as a sister of Angelo Bruno, the “Gentle Don,” who led Philadelphia’s La Cosa Nostra for 20 years until his assassination in 1980.

Dr. Maggio’s other siblings were Victor Bruno, Josephine Bruno Grasso, and Charles Bruno, who died in childhood.

Her family remembered Dr. Maggio as a professional, as a volunteer worker who championed the cause of abused children, and as a loving mother, wife, and grandmother.

Born in Philadelphia to Michele and Vincenzina Cumella Annaloro Bruno, she was the youngest of four children. She graduated from South Philadelphia High School.

“Lena,” as Dr. Maggio was called, spent her young adulthood working along with her siblings in the family’s grocery store at Ninth and McClellan Streets in South Philadelphia.

It was there that she met Peter J. Maggio, who regularly delivered cheese made by his family’s business. The two married in 1946, and moved to East Falls to rear two sons. The couple also maintained a vacation home on Long Beach Island, N.J.

In additional to being a gracious homemaker, her family said, Dr. Maggio discovered a passion for the arts, and became an oil painter and a sculptor. Her work was shown at museums and galleries in the area, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

She graduated from Temple University with honors, earned a master’s degree from Villanova University, and returned to Temple and completed a doctorate in psychology in 1980.

She worked as a psychologist for several decades at the Curtis Institute of Music and later for CATCH (Citizens Acting Together Can Help). She retired in 2005 at age 82.

Son Peter V. Maggio said his father was “so, so proud of her.”

“My father used to bring her lunch every day,” her son said.

Dr. Maggio was a crusader in the prevention of child abuse. She co-founded the Child Abuse Prevention Effort and served as its board chairperson in the 1970s. She lobbied in Harrisburg for stricter child-abuse-prevention laws, testified before Congress, wrote pamphlets on the subject, and helped expand existing state anti-child-abuse laws.

Her activism made Dr. Maggio a model for other women who felt constrained by social mores. “She went and did things,” her son said. “For so many other women, inside and outside of the family, she was an example of how to live their lives. She was deeply admired.”

When not working, she enjoyed spending time with family.

Her husband of 46 years died in 1992. A son, Michael, died of cancer in 2008.

Besides her son Peter, she is survived by a grandson; a granddaughter; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, 1700 S. Ninth St. A memorial gathering will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St. Burial is private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Foundation, 1331 G St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, or via http://bit.ly/lenamaggio. Michael Maggio was an immigration lawyer.

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