Portland - Filomena Rosalia Angela (Seneca) Yarnold peacefully left this world on February 26, 2019. "Mena" was born in Portland's "Little Italy", below Munjoy Hill, where she grew up during the Great Depression. When she lost her Mother in 1937, Mena was forced to quit school. She was determined to raise her 6 siblings herself, instead of following the City's conclusion that they go to foster homes. Her Father, Joseph Seneca, who was working as a bricklayer building Colby College in Waterville, sent Mena $25 a week for the Family's needs. Mena learned the value of a dollar, which never escaped her.
In 1946, with her siblings grown, Mena moved to Boston. She quickly got a raise at the Duran chocolate factory after she discovered an efficient method of packing chocolates. Mena also worked at Mosher Music, which accented her lifelong musical love affair. Her home was always filled with classical, jazz and the Italian music that dominated Sunday dinners.
Mena met George Yarnold and in 1947 married him in Boston's famous Old North Church. Thirteen months later their daughter Rita was born. After relocating to Portland's "Little Italy" and then to Munjoy Hill in 1952, their precious Joanne arrived. Their only son Richard made a debut the same time as Elvis Presley in 1955.
As President of the Munjoy Hill PTA, Mena was the creator of a unique fund-raising Birthday Calendar, which listed the birthday of every person on "The Hill". She was also a creative artist who crocheted, did needlepoint and calligraphy, and hooked beautiful hand-made ornamental wool rugs for which she won a Tri-State award.
For years, Mena worked at one of Portland's largest music stores, Cressey & Allen - later she owned Kimball Music on upper Forest Avenue. She was always ahead of the music curve and introduced many 50's & 60's R&B groups and then the songs of Bob Dylan to Rita.
Mena started a new career in the 60's at Fairchild Semiconductor, where she operated one of the first main frame computers. During that time, Mena began her world travels, earned her GED, and learned to drive at age 56. She visited Haiti yearly, where as a self-appointed missionary she shipped pallets of items, donated by Portland friends. She was known in her beloved Cap Haitien as "Mama Mena". Later, she sponsored a young Haitian in Portland - Gracia Osirus, who to this day calls her Mama.
When Mena retired from Fairchild in the late 80's, her world travels expanded greatly. She and her daughter Rita also vacationed for 19 winters in Naples, Florida. She owned 3,000 books, read voraciously, and completed 5-20 crossword puzzles a day. She remained intellectually astute to the end.
Mena Yarnold was a ferocious spirit with an endless smile, whose kind intentions were sometimes lost due to her honesty.
During their formative years on the Eastern Prom, when her daughters (Ricky's buddies may not have escaped either) would bring home their friends to Mena's warm, modest, open home, she would enlist them energetically to prepare a perfect Italian red sauce - the key to any great Italian meal. Mena would educate one and all: “It's easy… it doesn't have to take all day—it's quick—look, this is how it's done”. She would then start with hot olive oil, onions, parsley, basil, bay leaves and a little celery but her secret ingredient was mint. "Now wait to put in the garlic, it'll burn if you add it too early..." systematically adding the essentials, in a way one would never forget, and three hours later the edification was complete. Her meals were often feasts, with Christmas Eve dinner boasting the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes and she made the best pizzelles in Portland.
Mena had a physical beauty as a girl that she passed on to her three children. She was strong and bright and when she made a conclusion, her tenacity positioned her beyond defeat, probably because she was fearless when she knew she was right and that she had the answer. No one could put her down, still she would demonstrate humility and countenance. Because Mena knew who she was, she was independent her entire life and did not require the approval of others, which came through consistently all her life right to the end when she continued to show no fear as if she had tapped into a wellspring of inner content. Her three children, Rita, Joanne and Richard were everything to her, and Mena lived a long life just to love them. Sadly, they have lost a Matriarch and Portland has lost an Icon.
Mena was pre-deceased by her mother, Enrica (DiMauro), and father, Joseph Seneca, sister Assunta Jones, and brothers Charles, Vincent, Silviano, Joseph, and Antonio Seneca. Sadly, Mena recently lost her treasured son-in-law, Michael Kelly, Rita's husband. Mena is survived by her beloved daughters, Rita and Joanne Yarnold, and her devoted son, Richard Yarnold and his life partner, Patty Morris, as well as several loving nieces and nephews and many dear friends.
Visiting hours celebrating Mena's life will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2019 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home, 660 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME. Prayers will be recited at the funeral home on Friday, March, 8 at 9:15 am, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at10:00 AM at St. Peter's Church, 73 Federal Street