Norma Dacoba, age 99, passed away on May 2, 2023, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, just shy of her 100th birthday. She was born on May 15, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois, to Italian immigrants, Amo and Rose Scotese.
She was raised in Paw Paw, Michigan, and attended Steeple School and later attended Paw Paw High School, graduating class of 1941. Norma was an avid basketball player and always boasted how she won a trip to camp for her athletic abilities.
Norma graduated from Nazareth College in 1945 with a degree in Social Work. She cherished those years at Nazareth and met and built many lifelong relationships with her classmates and the Sisters of St. Joseph. She often spoke of her experiences, fun times and great education she received. Norma is the last of her Nazareth group, but up until a few years ago, the "gals" would gather at La Cantina and reminisce and laugh over the old stories! Her Paw Paw lifelong friend, Marguerite Bellware, would join her every Thursday for dinner at La Cantina, also to reminisce and tell stories of the "old days".
After graduating, Norma began her career working at St. Francis Home for Boys in Detroit, Michigan. She enjoyed her work there and also liked the city life. After a few years, Norma procured a position with the City of Chicago, Human Resource Department as a Social Worker and also began graduate school. She lived with her sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Tom Arcadipone, who were accomplished musicians in the city.
One fateful weekend in 1948, Norma was home in Paw Paw, working at the restaurant as her father and mother expected. There she met the love of her life, Antonio Dacoba, who had literally just arrived from Havana, Cuba for the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo. The rest is history! Norma and Antonio married June 24, 1950, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Paw Paw. Together they had four children, Rosemary, Tony, Ava, and Emilio.
The family spent many holidays going back to Havana to visit paternal grandparents, Antonio and Rosina Aquirre Dacoba, and sister-in-law Olga Dacoba. Norma lived in Havana and longed to go back often. Soon Politics changed all that. The Cuban half of the family settled in Paw Paw for the remainder of their lives.
Norma took a more active role running the restaurant, La Cantina, along with her sister Nancy Arcadipone. While Norma concentrated on the day-to-day business, her sister lead the culinary operations. Norma continued to work daily through her early 90's. Finally, she chose to limit her responsibilities and enjoyed being present and socializing with her friends and patrons.
Norma devoted her life to La Cantina. She relished the daily excitement of being with people and being active. She loved getting dressed up, putting on her sparkly Rhinestone glasses, which before long became her signature calling card look for decades! (Thank you to Mr. Bill Dobbs).
Norma worked tirelessly maintaining the business after her family had passed on. She carried on with her children with hopes the restaurant would continue on for many years. It is now 87 years young, Norma has left a legacy of dedication, hard work and love.
Norma was present at the restaurant every morning and evening through the Christmas Holidays, 2022. No matter how cold or rainy, she loved being at the restaurant. La Cantina was her home and she enjoyed every minute of being there! She will be greatly missed.
Norma was preceded in death by her husband Antonio A. Dacoba, daughter Rosemary D'Arienzo, parents Amo and Rose Scotese, her sister Nancy Arcadipone (Tom), In laws Antonio Sr., Rosina and Olga Dacoba.
Surviving are children, Tony (Debbie) Dacoba, Emilio (Maria) Dacoba, Ava (Roman) Plaszczak. Grandchildren: Alicia Dacoba Parsayar, Isabella Dacoba, Great-Grandson, Antonio Parsayar, Son in law, Peter D'Arienzo and Step grandson Chris D'Arienzo, and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Mass of Christian burial will take place Monday, May 22, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 209 South Brown Street, Paw Paw, with Rev. Fr. Alan P. Jorgensen presiding.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eleanor's Pantry or a charity of choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Norma V. (Scotese) Dacoba, please visit our floral store.
221 Drew Street, Paw Paw MI 49079