Marta DiStefano, 78; taught Spanish for many years

Marta DiStefano
Marta DiStefano
Posted: December 03, 2010

Marta Victoria Jané DiStefano, 78, of Berwyn, a longtime Spanish teacher, died of ovarian cancer Tuesday, Nov. 30, at her home.

She taught Spanish at Catholic and public schools, first in New York City in the 1950s, and then on the upper Main Line starting in the 1970s. She retired in 2005 after her cancer was diagnosed.

At various times, she taught Spanish in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District at Conestoga High School and Valley Forge Middle School. Private schools where she taught included Villa Maria Academy and Malvern Preparatory School.

"She was a firm, fair, engaging teacher who made a strong impression on many of her students and their parents," said her son Joseph N. DiStefano, a business columnist for The Inquirer.

During one semester at Malvern Prep in the early 1980s, he recalled, his mother gave out no As. "I know what these young men are capable of, and they aren't working to their capacity," she told her son.

Starting in the mid 1980s, Mrs. DiStefano taught Spanish at schools including St. Monica School in Berwyn.

In the late 1990s, she organized a Spanish program for parents at New Eagle Elementary School in Tredyffrin. She ran that class until 2005.

Born in Havana, Mrs. DiStefano arrived with her immigrant family in New York in 1940. She graduated in 1951 from St. Walburga's Academy there.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the Fordham University School of Education in 1955. She did graduate work in Columbia University's department of philosophy.

Mrs. DiStefano could trace her ancestry to Spanish and English settlers in the New World. She was a devoted Catholic and a registered Republican who voted for John F. Kennedy and against Ronald Reagan, her son said. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In addition to her son Joseph, she is survived by her husband of 52 years, Renato T. Jr.; sons Andrew and Richard R.P; a daughter, Victoria Mahalsky; a brother; and 13 grandchildren.

A viewing will be held at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, followed by a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Monica Church, 63 Main St., Berwyn. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Lower Merion.

Memorial donations may be sent to Surrey Services for Seniors, 28 Bridge Ave., Berwyn, Pa. 19312.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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