Gazette prayer writer Delores Nappi, 94, dies

Angela Delores Nappi, whose weekly prayers inspired and comforted Daily Gazette readers for more tha

Angela Delores Nappi, whose weekly prayers inspired and comforted Daily Gazette readers for more than 60 years, died Wednesday in Norristown, Pa., after a short illness.

She was 94.

Nappi began writing her reverent observations and declarations for the newspaper on a regular basis in 1944.

“She asked God for inspiration, I know she did,” said Nappi’s daughter, Anne Sakalay, who lives in Norristown. “Being such a student of life and of people, and her connection to people, gave her the kind of sensitivity to make her words simple and meaningful.”

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Nov. 14, at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Church on Seward Place. Calling hours will be held Sunday, Nov. 13, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Rossi & Ditoro Funeral Home, Union at North Jay Street, Schenectady.

During the mid-1940s, Nappi was a partner in her mother’s business, Rose’s Bridal Shop in Schenectady. She was asked to meet with John E.N. Hume Jr., then editor of the Schenectady Gazette. Hume had admired some of Nappi’s earlier published articles and asked her to write a prayer for the newspaper’s weekly religion page.

Salary wasn’t much of an issue. “I write for God,” the writer told Hume.

Nappi began writing — about hope, faith, mercy, love and other topics — and her prayers appeared in the newspaper until 2007.

In a 1994 newspaper interview, Nappi said she found the work rewarding. “Many times I’ve helped people reclaim their faith,” she said, adding that her encounters with people inspired and influenced her pieces.

“I love people,” she said. “I feel that the good Lord meant for me to do this.”

Sakalay, who said her parents lived in Poughkeepsie for many years, knew about her mother’s connection with people.

“She was always an extremely intuitive person and she knew what you needed and what you were feeling before you yourself knew,” she said. “She had an incredible ability to connect with people. I would take her out to go shopping and I’d find her sitting on a bench somewhere talking to a stranger who was pouring his heart out to her, telling her his life story. She would be consoling them, giving them advice. She could just connect with strangers, people were attracted to her.”

The prayers were simple, and often told a story or taught a lesson.

“Sweet are the treasures of life, whose luster cannot fade, like God’s blessing, on this day, as he beckons us to pray,” Nappi wrote in August 2003.

During the fall of 1997, Nappi used the changing seasons as a prayer theme. “O, my dear Lord, the leaves are falling, but my spirit is high,” she wrote. “The storms are heavier, O, dear Lord, still my spirit is high. The seasons of life hold great change, O, dear Lord. Yet, because of thee, I am unafraid.”

Readers would contact Nappi to tell her how much they appreciated her prayers. They told her they would keep yellowed newspaper clippings on their refrigerators, or keep the worn newsprint prayers in their wallets.

Nappi never took a break from her duty. In the 1994 interview, she said she was in Las Vegas when she dictated the prayer from a phone booth — while an impatient bus driver honked his horn in the background. Another time, during a vacation in the woods of Maine, she drove 50 miles on a rough logging road to reach a phone booth for the prayer call to the newspaper.

“In addition to her writing and the bridal shop, she was extremely active in the community, especially in Poughkeepsie where she was on the board of directors of the Red Cross,” Sakalay said. “She was a neighborhood chairman for the Girl Scouts, she was also on the board of directors for the United Way. She was a tireless volunteer.”

Nappi is also survived by her husband, Fred E. Sakalay.

Categories: Schenectady County

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