Pioneering Patterson civic leader Aloisio died Monday

Patterson has lost one of its most accomplished citizens, a grandchild of Italian migrants who defied expectations, started her own businesses, was elected to public office, and saved a man’s life. Matilda “Tee” Aloisio died Monday. She was 90 years old.

Aloisio was the first woman elected to the St. Mary Parish police jury, being elected in 1972 after losing in 1968. A decade before, she was elected alderwoman in the town of Patterson.

A hunter who killed her first deer in 1948 in a male-dominated activity, Aloisio considered herself independent and didn’t much identify with the feminist movement of her time. She obtained a student pilot’s license from Wedell Williams Flying School in 1944.

In August 1963, a mechanic working on a gas pipeline was surrounded by flames when the gas caught fire. Then a school bus driver, Aloisio ran to the site and was able to pull the mechanic out of the excavation pit, where he likely would have perished. Both were hospitalized.

One of 12 children born to Rosario and Maria Rizzuto Aloisio, Matilda described her parents to The Franklin Post in 1980.

“If he had been able to have even a high school education, Papa would have been a lawyer. He was so naturally smart,” Aloisio said.

Her parents’ marriage was arranged by their parents, with Maria being 15 years old at the time of the marriage to her only boyfriend.

“Mama was the kindest soul living. She never would let us exert displeasure at other people. Always she told us, ‘Do good.’ She was just good,” Aloisio said.

The family ran a store selling produce from the family farm, and the Aloisio children would all help with the store and farm work.

Even though it was not the expected dress for females at the time, her father thought it more practical — and more modest — for her to wear coveralls, which worked much better when climbing an ice wagon.

“I’ve always been an independent person. I suppose that is why I’ve never married,” she told The Franklin Post in 1980.

“I have no regrets. I love children, but I have lots of nieces and nephews to pet and pamper. It’s been rewarding to fulfill my own ambition, without the nagging fear that I was neglecting a husband or little children. I am grateful for the many blessings life has thrown my way.”

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