Marie Sansone Zucchero, a long-time volunteer at Bethesda Dilworth and 2007 recipient of the prestigious Norwood Award for her years of extraordinary support and service to Bethesda, died at the age of 99.

Marie held a variety of volunteer leadership positions at Bethesda Dilworth, but her legacy was firmly cemented in her playing piano and singing with the Bethesda Dilworth “Ding-a-Lings,” a choir group made up of volunteers (and a few residents) that Marie founded. For more than 40 years, Marie, along with the rest of her “Ding-a-Lings,” entertained residents in the dining room and on the residence floors every Thursday.

Marie’s mother was once a resident of Bethesda Dilworth, and during one of her visits, Marie spotted a piano and started playing old, familiar Italian tunes. Marie couldn’t help but notice how the music lifted and perked up her mother and those around her. Marie started playing the piano weekly, and soon volunteers joined her – and this was the start of the Ding-a-Lings. “I am convinced that music soothes the soul; it brings me joy to use the talent that God gave me to make others happy with the ‘Joy of Music’,” Marie said proudly.

In addition to the Norwood Award, Marie was recognized in 2014 by Bethesda Dilworth with The Founder’s Award, distinguishing her with the longest years of service to Bethesda —more than 40.

Marie’s legacy lives on thanks to the love of her five dear granddaughters — Amy Rush, Mary Noel George, Mia Hurley, Angela Hurley, and Caroline Hurley, who collectively established the Marie Sansone Zucchero Music Always Fund, so that Bethesda Dilworth senior residents will always have music in their lives.

Marie had a tremendous impact on even the youngest of volunteers. Amy Rush, one of Marie’s granddaughters fondly recalls, “In eighth grade, my school cut the eighth graders loose for a week to volunteer in the community. I chose Bethesda Dilworth thanks to Mama Día and brought three friends with me from my class! We did all sorts of things to help, but mostly patient transfers and activities — and Ding-a-Lings! Mama Día drove us to and from Bethesda, too, in her vintage white Mercedes Benz. My friends adored her, of course. We are 46 years old now and STILL talk about what fun we had that week!”

Mary Noel reminisced about Marie’s piano playing. “One particular song, ‘Always’ composed by Irving Berlin (1925), has special meaning for Mama Dia and our family,” she recalled. “‘Always’ was Mama Dia’s first dance at her wedding to Papa Dia many years ago, and she would routinely sign notes ‘I’ll be loving you, always’ or ‘Love always’ — like the song.”

Services for Marie Zucchero will take place on Saturday, June 26, 2021 (10:00 a.m.) at Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church, located at 401 South Lindbergh Blvd. If you are interested in honoring Marie’s legacy by making a memorial/tribute to this fund, please send your gift to the Bethesda Health Group Foundation, 1630 Des Peres Road, Ste. 290, St. Louis, MO 63131, or by going online here.