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1501 Mendocino Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-4395
lifetime connections: maryellen and gianFranco silipo
A cute older boy, Gianfranco Silipo had an intriguing slight Italian accent when MaryEllen Tabor met him in the Fall of 1966 in a Santa Rosa Junior College chemistry class.
MaryEllen, a graduate from Ursuline High School, was studying to be a nurse at SRJC when she first noticed Gianfranco in Mr. Cucuza’s chemistry class. She saw him multiple times that semester, especially during dances at the Coop, but they were just friends.
As a member of SRJC’s Women’s Luncheon Club, a student organization, MaryEllen needed a date for the spring dance the next semester. Although MaryEllen was a shy young lady at the time, her older sister invited Gianfranco to the Sadie Hawkins-style dance on her behalf. Later that year, Gianfranco transferred to UC Davis to pursue a degree in chemical engineering and MaryEllen started to miss him. She invited him to join her at Homecoming in Fall 1967 and they realized they actually liked each other.
MaryEllen eventually transferred to Sonoma State University. “I hated to leave SRJC after graduation. It was like home for me; I felt so comfortable there.” Gianfranco and MaryEllen spent five years dating long distance while they were at their respective colleges. After Gianfranco graduated from UC Davis, he returned to Italy for ten months to visit his family. In a time before Skype, cell phones and cheap long distance calling, letter writing was their only way to communicate. “Sometimes workers in Italy would be on strike and the mail wouldn’t be delivered for weeks. But our love was strong enough to endure through the uncertainty of when we would see each other again.”
Although Gianfranco’s family asked him to stay in Italy, he knew there was someone he loved in the United States waiting for him. Gianfranco and MaryEllen were married in 1972 and have now spent over forty years together, raising two sons, Giancarlo (left) and Enzo (right). MaryEllen pursued a twenty seven year career at Sonoma State University before counseling high school girls at Ursuline High School for ten years.
Their love for SRJC is also a family affair. Not only did MaryEllen’s sister attend SRJC, she also met and married her husband at the College. MaryEllen and Gianfranco’s two sons also attended SRJC before transferring. Enzo earned a degree from UC Davis in mechanical engineering and Giancarlo earned a degree in graphic design from Long Beach State.
MaryEllen still returns to the place she met the love of her life, Gianfranco. A recent attendee at Day Under the Oaks, MaryEllen was part of a demonstration for a tai chi class she continues to take on campus. MaryEllen and Gianfranco are an SRJC love story for the ages.
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