September 1 2020

Obituary: Beloved Family Woman Who Gave Much to Community Antonia ‘Lena’ Mazzola, 97


A woman who spent her life caring for her family and her community has passed away. 

Antonina “Lena” Helena (Arena) Mazzola, of Burlington, formerly of Woburn and Cambridge, passed away on August 29, 2020 peacefully with family by her side at the age of 97, her obituary from Sullivan Funeral Home says. 

Lena was born to Guiseppe and Concetta (Donato) Arena on May 29, 1923 in Roxbury, Mass. She married Astillo “Austy” Mazzola two months after he returned from 5 years in the Army during WWII.  They were married 53 years until his death in 1999. They moved from Arlington to the Winnmere section of Burlington in June 1956 where they raised two children.

Raising her family in the 50’s and 60’s was a busy time for Lena. She became Den Mother to her son’s Cub Scout troop, and later a Girl Scout leader to her daughter’s Brownie troop. She also volunteered at the Memorial Elementary School as a seamstress, sewing all the costumes for the school plays. She volunteered, as well, in both her son and daughter’s classrooms. 

In the 60’s she joined the Burlington Garden Club and used her love for flowers and planting to learn to create beautiful rock gardens throughout the family’s home on Mountain Road. She created a Lady Bug costume to wear while marching in the Memorial Day Parades with the Club. She also enjoyed decorating the 4th of July Floats with all sorts of flowers, plants, and shrubs, designing a Nursery Rhyme float with the Club. She also belonged to the St. Margaret’s Church Choir and chaperoned the CCD dances held in the old St. Margaret’s hall on Center Street.

She was also willing to literally give of herself for a loved one. 

“Lena will be most remembered for her generous and courageous decision to donate her kidney to her brother George,” her obituary reads. “This kidney transplant, ‘Gift of Life’ was an unprecedented medical procedure performed at The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston on May 15, 1970.”

She and her husband also became foster parents working with the Catholic Charitable Bureau of Boston from 1949 to 1969. They fostered over 200 infants, sometimes caring for two infants at a time until placed for adoption.

She had many jobs in her lifetime. She worked “the line” during WWII stitching medical and surgical coats for the doctors and nurses overseas. She stitched fabric onto car seats, on an assembly line, in the once well-known Auto Seat Covers Factory. She worked “piece work” stuffing mattresses at Simonds Mattress Factory. In her later years, she worked in the Dietary Department in both the Choate Memorial Hospital as well as Winchester Hospital serving food trays to patients. She loved this job and the friendships she developed, especially with the patients.

After the transplant, Lena volunteered countless hours for the Kidney Transplant Dialysis Association, working side by side with her brother George, to get the word out “Transplant Kidneys, Don’t Bury Them”. She was instrumental in starting the first Organ Donor Program held at the Burlington Mall in the mid-1970’s. This program allowed donors to have a card attached to their license to show that they were organ donors. She also became the President of the Middlesex County, Lexington Chapter, of the KTDA. She worked vigorously to bring awareness to the public regarding kidney disease and organ donation.

Finally, she loved her growing family throughout her entire life. 

“Lena loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren,” her obituary reads. “She was always knitting and crocheting blankets, and baby outfits, blankets, hats, and mittens. She enjoyed needlepoint as well and made each child a prayer to hang in their rooms. She loved looking through catalogs and would pick out something special just for that one particular child. She never forgot a birthday or holiday and always had ‘a little something’ in her purse, when she saw them. She felt very blessed that she lived long enough to have made lasting memories with them.”

Click here to read her full obituary.


Web Design by Polar Design