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Blanche Mary Joseph Sasso, Virgin Islands Role Model, Lived to Be 105

  • Broadcast in Culture
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Born Sept. 15, 1899 in her Bunker Hill home on St. Thomas in the then Danish West Indies, Mrs. Blanche Mary Joseph Sasso, is the youngest of 5 children, & was known affectionately as Mamma Sasso, Auntie Blanche, Granny Sasso, & The Grand Lady.

The Grand Lady & her sister played an important role in Virgin Islands history in 1921 when they embroidered the territory's first flag. Mrs. Sasso went on to educate generations of young Virgin Islanders.

Since she was a child, Mrs. Sasso can remember her birthday brought rain. Tropical Storm, Jeanne, brought heavy downpours & gusty winds. "That's another melee," Mrs. Sasso stated. "From the time I was about 10 years up to now, there's never been a birthday without rain."

Mrs. Sasso graduated Convent School on St. Thomas, where her musical talents were encouraged. She soon took up playing the cello & the piano. In fact, family members recall that her love for music continued to her final days.

Eventually teaching on both St. Thomas & St. Croix, Mrs. Sasso began her teaching career in the public schools in 1921. Specializing in teaching the performing arts, she developed her own school on the 1st floor of her family home.

Married to Ernest D. Sasso, a former Finance Commissioner, in 1921, the birth of their only child, Leah, led to the closing of her school. She later returned to teaching at Sts. Peter & Paul School in 1950, at which time she taught kindergarten, first, & second grades until 1967, the year after her husband died.

Mrs. Sasso, named Teacher-of-the-Year on several occasions, died of respiratory failure at the age of 105 at 11:45 p.m. May 11th, 2005, surrounded by family members, at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital. Although her daughter, Leah, followed her in death, Mrs. Sasso is survived a large extended family & a circle of close friends.