Maria Angela Weir August 18, 1925 – October 27, 2021
Celebration of Life
December 18, 2021
Maria Angela Weir passed away in Los Angeles, California, on October 27, 2021, following a short illness. She was 96 years old.
Born in San Diego on August 18, 1925, to Italian immigrant parents Antonio "Papa" Alfredo and Grace "Mamida" Armeda Ravettino, Maria was the eldest of the family's two daughters, sister Gloria arriving in 1931.
In 1927, when Maria was two, a defining event in her life took place, as she described in her diary:
We had an Italian family living near us and one of the daughters was selling tickets for a Sons of Italy Celebration on Columbus Day. The prize was a $500 piano. My mom bought a ticket for $1.00.
On the day of the celebration, the drawing took place - no one answered to the number. The lady who sold the ticket to my mom, said, "My ticket is close to the number called - perhaps it's your ticket."
They allowed my mom to go home to look for the ticket.
Mom went home and began tearing the house apart.
Her landlady said to her, "Your daughter always gets into your purse, the ticket may be in the trash can."
They went into the alley, turned the large can upside down and at the bottom of the can was a dirty pink little ticket.
Mom was able to redeem the piano. It was a player piano equipped with numbers of rolls of popular songs. When I was able to reach the pedals, I spent many hours pedaling the old-time songs, which my mother would sing. She had a beautiful voice.
Maria and the piano were inseparable from that point on and her virtuosity on the instrument would influence the path that her own children would follow. Her musical journey, and that of her family, began thanks to a simple piece of paper that was salvaged from a trash can.
Maria attended Logan Grammar School, Memorial Junior High, San Diego High School and San Diego State College. At age 13, she was hired to play pump organ at St. Anne's Catholic Church in San Diego. She apprenticed under Enzo Pascarella, of the famous Italian Pascarella Trio, at The Southern California Institute of Music.
At the age of 18, Maria was hired to play organ at St. Joseph's Cathedral and later became the choir director, a role she did not take lightly. One day, a man named Larry Weir walked in to audition for her, but she was busy listening to a recording of the choir's recent performance and asked him to come back later. He waited a year, hoping that the choir director would have been replaced by then, but when he returned to try again, she was still there. He auditioned anyway, and ended up singing tenor in her choir. Over time, they fell in love and were married in San Diego on June 23, 1951.
Maria and Larry had nine children – in order of their birth, Larry Jr., Maria, Estelle, Tom, Christine, Cathy, Theresa, Michael and Joani – all of whom followed in their parents' musical footsteps. On Christmas Eve, 1957, Maria's parents realized that one of their grandchildren was about to enter the world when they tuned in to watch Maria perform, as she did every year, on the live broadcast of midnight mass. When they noticed she wasn't there playing, they knew that their nine-months-pregnant daughter was about to give birth to her fifth child, Christine.
Having lived for a time in Encinitas, the growing family move to Escondido, where Larry was a builder/architect specializing in adobe homes.
The children, meanwhile, quickly followed in Larry and Maria's musical footsteps, with all nine children learning to play instruments and forming an all-sibling band, The Weirz. Maria was a constant source of encouragement and support, whether it be cooking food, hemming clothes, or answering fan mail - always with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes.
In 1969, the family moved to Oxnard, California, where Maria was the accompanist for the Oxnard High School Choir and the organist at Santa Clara church. She also taught night school and helped her son Larry with the three school musicals he wrote and starred in, along with his siblings.
Her second youngest child, Michael (Damian), branched off from the family band, landing the role of Danny Romalati on CBS's "The Young and the Restless" and hitting the top of the Billboard chart in 1989 with "Rock On," co-produced with brothers Larry and Tom. When Michael starred in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at Pantages Theater, Maria made it to almost every performance. She loved being his unofficial press agent.
Maria's musical talents also reached a wide audience on occasion, such as when she played piano on a song that was featured in "A Princess for Christmas," a #1 movie on the Hallmark Channel.
In 1990, Maria became the accompanist for the music program at Christ the King School program in Hollywood, California. She would work at Christ the King for 17 years.
In Tehachapi, California, she played at St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church and performed Handel's Messiah with her husband, children and an orchestra. She, Tom and daughter Maria formed a band of their own and played at restaurants and functions in the area.
In 2017, in her early 90s, Maria recorded an album "Unforgettable Classics" with singer Jack Night, featuring guests that included gifted vocalist Sharon Hendrix, who, in 1972, was a student of Maria's at Oxnard High, and renowned trumpeter Steve Madaio.
Music was never far from her mind or her heart: while recuperating from an illness, she entertained other patients at Beverly Hills Rehab and as a resident at Santa Teresita Avila Garden in Duarte.
Maria loved spending time at the recording studio owned and operated by her son Tom, playing the grand piano there for hours on end and featuring prominently in multiple Studio City Sound Christmas specials. Well into her 90s, Maria played at Santa Rosa Church in Lone Pine and at a wedding at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in 2018, and recorded segments at St. Charles Borromeo Church for The Holy Family Service Center telethon in 2020.
Maria drew great joy from playing piano for her friends and family, which she did up until her last days. Christmas was always special to her, as her family would gather around the piano, singing carols and holiday songs.
Larry Weir Sr. passed away July 10, 2012. Maria is survived by her sister, Gloria Nina Ravettino Nussey of San Diego; all nine of her children, Larry Jr. (Masika), Maria, Estelle Harrison (Bob), Tom, Christine, Cathy, Theresa Moller (Charlie), Michael (Janeen) and Joani; and eight grandchildren. Her family will forever honor her legacy.
There will be a celebration of life service at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood on December 18 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation (www.t2t.org).