JULY 14, 1940 – SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
Known as a woman of faith, family, and good food, Libera DiManno (née Papa) led a beautiful life filled with love and laughter. With a heart as big as her kitchen, she was always happiest welcoming friends and loved ones into her home for a visit over coffee and biscotti or for a dinner she had started working on earlier that day. Charming, compassionate, and funny, she had a natural knack for making lasting bonds. This is why we find comfort in knowing her last days were spent surrounded by a chorus of familiar voices as we all said goodbye to our devoted mother, proud nonna, sweet zia, and dear friend.
Born in Terelle, Italy, on July 14, 1940, Libera spent her childhood on the family farm, where she helped to take care of the land and the animals. Growing up during and after World War II shaped her determined spirit and principled work ethic. She enjoyed sharing memories from “the old country,” but the one that takes the cake is the story of when she came to Canada.
Eighteen and without knowing much English, she left Italy in December 1958 by boat for Halifax. She then boarded a train straight to Banff, where her fiancé, Vittorio DiManno, was waiting for her. When she arrived in the mountains to be greeted not only by Vittorio but also by a recent, heavy snowfall, her first words to him after two years apart were: “you lied to me.”
While corresponding through letters before their reunion, Libera had asked Vittorio if it got cold or if it snowed in Banff, and not wanting a few occasional snowflakes to deter her from making the move, he decided to tell her no, it wasn’t cold and it didn’t snow at all.
They married the next month at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and were together for the next 43 years. They raised two sons, Tony and Marino, while working multiple jobs, learning a new language, and volunteering for the church. Back then, family get-togethers were infamous for the music, dancing, card games, and big spreads.
As they built their new life in Canada, Libera found her calling as a server: first at the Alpine Steak House, then at the Banff Café, and finally at El Toro Restaurant. She thrived in this fast-paced environment where she got to meet new patrons, joke with old ones, and become close to her co-workers. And, of course, it brought her joy to feed people.
It is often said when we lose a senior, we lose an encyclopedia. In addition to that, our family has lost a cookbook. Libera’s made-from-scratch specialties included spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, pizza, and gnocchi. She enjoyed baking banana bread and cookies, as well as frying donuts.
Affectionately called Nonna, Libera showered her two granddaughters, Corrie and Bailey, with these treats and most importantly, with her infinite love for them. The first time Bailey’s husband, Hunter, met Nonna, he took copious notes while she made her spaghetti sauce from memory. Needless to say, she was thrilled to add an extra plate to the table for her new culinary partner.
After her husband passed away in 2002, Libera found solace and a new purpose by joining the Banff Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE). She was a friendly face while volunteering at many of their fundraisers and serving residents of St. Martha’s Place. She quickly began to cherish her time with this respected group as well as her fellow IODE members.
She loved going for walks, tending to her vegetable and flower gardens, going for drives down Vermilion Lakes Road, and playing the Italian card game Scopa, especially with her sons. She kept in close touch with her family in France and extended family in Canada, enjoying the quality visits they had with each other over the years. She also made endearing friendships with her neighbours, whether they lived next to her for six or sixty years.
We extend our gratitude to Dr. Fowke for the many years of care and compassion for
Libera. As well, to her health care aides, whose assistance was invaluable in keeping her healthy. We are also very appreciative to the team at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, who provided her with world-class and exceptional attention while she was in their care. We noticed every gesture – small and big – to help maintain her dignity, and we are eternally ‘grazie mille’ for their efforts.
Please join us in celebrating Libera’s life at St. Mary’s of the Assumption (305 Squirrel Street) on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. for a prayer service and on Friday, Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. for the funeral, with interment at Mountain View Cemetery and a reception to follow at the church hall. You can also share a memory of Libera at bowriverfuneral.com.
You can honour Libera with flowers for the prayer and funeral services or by donating to Covenant Foundation to support the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. It would also make her happy if you baked some cookies, called a friend to catch up, or simply went for a walk along the river in the place she loved and called home for more than six decades.
“Eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart.”