Profile: Emma, Josephine and Matilda Girimonte
By William J. Girimonti III
It is not everyday that I am able to meet people with
such fervor for life, with such high spirits and optimism
than I did on a beautiful sunny day this January 22nd
in 1995. Because of this, it brings me great delight
to present to you the three sisters, Emma,
Girimonte. I had the privilege of meeting them
at their home in San Francisco. This was done while
on a business trip to California.
Emma, the eldest of the three, was born on the 8th
of November, 1909. Josephine, second in line, was
born on the 7th of April, 1911, and Matilda, the 17th
of March, 1914. All three were born in a small town
in Siskiyou county, California called Weed (near the
Oregon border) to Leonardo
Girimonte and Rose
Growing up in Weed was just like growing up in any
other small town except that the town was owned by
the Weed Lumber Company. Their father worked for the
company and even became the assistant deputy sheriff
for the town. The town had a few different ethnic
backgrounds--each with their own section to live in.
Leonardo was the assistant deputy sheriff of the Italian
While in high school, Emma wanted to go into the arts
and sang with the high school band. She turned toward
music and took up the violin. Despite her endless
practicing, her father pleaded for her to choose another
instrument, so she chose the alto-horn instead. Matilda
thought she would go into theater and stage, but changed
her mind, instead to work with children, while Josephine
enjoyed playing the piano. Their love for the arts
was quite evident during this time, as they were in
all the school plays. In addition, Emma used to sing
in Latin with the choir at the local church.
Later on, after high school, they all went on to college.
Emma and Josephine went to a business school, and
Matilda realized her dreams of working with children,
when was certified in Social Work at Lux's Academy.
Her job soon after her graduation encompassed playground
work, teaching the children dances, etc. In addition,
their brother Nick
went to the University of San Francisco and their
other brother, Joe,
went to City College in San Francisco. Both studied
When asked about humorous incidents while growing up,
Emma replied, "I was a funny girl because I was
thin-- I mean all eyes and nose in those days, so
I thought, 'I'll be funny.' It didn't bother me when
one little girl said to me, 'Oh, you have such a long
nose!' It really didn't bother me. I thought, 'Well,
I am funny looking. I'll just be a comedienne.' Then
I belonged to the Girl Scouts and I'd get up and sing
fully little ditties. When I was in the band, I would
like to cut up. So when we would go out on a little
march, I would look at the girl next to me and go,
'Oom pa! Oom pa!' Then I would make faces and she
would blurt right through her horn and she would laugh--I
During the depression of the 1930's, the country as
gripped by a poor economy and widespread unemployment.
"During this time, we ere not really affected",
explains Emma. "The town was completely self-sufficient."
This makes sense considering their remoteness from
any large cities. They would have had no choice but
to provide for themselves, by farming, and the like
on a daily basis even before the depression. The cities
were the hardest hit, because they were used to depending
on goods and services of others.
Some of their interests include going to church, going
out to eat, traveling, and just enjoying each others
company. They go to church regularly and are devout
Catholics. They try to eat out about once a week—there
are many good Italian restaurants in San Francisco.
In fact, when I visited them, we all went to an Italian
restaurant nearby and had a great meal and good conversation.
If there is one way to get Italians together, it is
food! Over dinner, we discussed a trip they took to
Italy, which evetually took them to Castelsilano,
which is where their parents came from. Most of all,
they enjoy each other's company. They have lived together
their whole lives. Neither of them has ever been married
or had any children. Emma explains, "The right
men just never came along, so we never got married."
What were some of your accomplishments?
"Well, we always got along with everyone",
said Emma. "We had our opinions, but we never
imposed them on anyone." To be at peace with
everyone is truly an accomplishment. Josephine added,
"I really didn't do anything, although I've had
girls from work call me, one in particular, says that
she always wanted to be like me." As many wold
agree, being a positive role model was an accomplishment,
How would you like to be remembered by friends
Matilda commented, "I would like people to remember
that we were caring and that we never butted into
anyone else's business. We never lectured-- ever,
but we really did care, for Heaven's sake. People
always felt free that they could talk to us, perhaps,
because we weren't married." Emma added, "On
the same line, we were kind and always did a lot for
people--my mother did, too."
These three charming sisters have seen much and have
touched the lives of many. They are well known for
their kindness and good nature. Their active lifestyles
have kept them in good spirits, which rubs off on
everyone they come into contact with. Currently, they
are retired and reside in San Francisco, California
in the Marina district. They are within walking distance
of the Presidio and ten minutes from the Golden Gate
Bridge. This has been yet another testimony to the
way that our family has helped shape the world in
which we live--a little bit at a time.
Editor's Note: Since the interview in 1995, sadly, all
three sisters have past away in California. Matilda
in 1996, Josephine in 2001 and Emma in 2004.