Marie Caulley

OCTOBER 18, 1930 – MARCH 8, 2020

Born Diane Marie Fontana in San Francisco on Oct 18, 1930 to Giulia and Ivo Fontana — Italian immigrants from Colle di Compito in northern Tuscany.  Marie was the oldest of five and spoke only Italian when she entered St Joan of Arc, a French Catholic grammar school in San Francisco’s Bayview district.  There she met lifelong friends, Irene (Lilles) Garcia, Claire (Borg) Aquilina and Theresa Brelivet.

Marie Caulley

At thirteen years old while waiting for the second movie to begin at the Bayview Theater, her future husband (Lowell Caulley) jumped over a row of seats to sit next to her – beginning a romance that would last 53 years.  She asked his name, and, in a mild Virginian accent, he said, “Caulley” – which she took to be his first name.  That misunderstanding stuck, and they were known as “Marie and Caulley” for the rest of their lives.

Marie attended Commerce High School in San Francisco (class of 1948) along with many of her Bayview friends including “Caulley”.  Marie was in the high school Dance Club, but her home responsibilities as the eldest child of five kept her from participating in most extracurricular activities.

Anxious to strike out on their own, Marie and Lowell were married in Dec 1949 when Lowell received a medical discharge from the service.  Marie was 19 and Caulley was 18.  It is fair to say that Marie’s mother, Giulia, was not pleased with her daughter’s non-Italian mate selection, pleading for Marie to reconsider as she donned her wedding gown and prepared to walk up the aisle at St Paul of the Shipwreck church.  Giulia eventually came around… sort of.

Marie worked at Continental Insurance as an office worker for seven years while Caulley worked in the printing trade for multiple companies.  In 1958, they began their own business, Caulley’s Creative Litho, and grew the business along with their sons for 35+ years.  Marie handled all the bookkeeping and never closed a month without every account balanced to the penny.

She also operated the photo typesetter and performed other production tasks including data entry and word processing on a then brand-new IBM PC-XT.  She learned quickly, always by rote repetition, not caring much for underlying concepts. “Just show me how to do it.”  Understanding always came later, but “just getting it done now” was what was important to her.

Marie participated in the family sport of bowling and spent many years watching her boys at L&L Castle Lanes on Geneva Avenue.  She bowled all the way into her 80’s and for many years bowled with her sister Rita in the Kastle Koffee Klub league on Thursday mornings.

Marie Caulley 1992

Marie did everything quickly and never anguished long over a decision.

After Lowell passed in 1996 she sold her San Bruno house, their boat, their cars and all their furniture and bought a new condo in San Mateo and decorated the entire abode in mauve.  The days of burl furniture and John Wayne pictures were loved but gone!  Desiring companionship but enjoying her full widow independence as well, she began a wonderful relationship with Tony Massimino, close friend of longtime girlfriend, Bev Franzella — all of this done in two months’ time.

When Tony passed eleven years later, Tony’s daughter, Rosanne, introduced her to Bruno Pacini and within a few months she had her third beau decision done!  They enjoyed nine years as a couple — spending half their week together and the other half checking in on each other. They traveled, ate out and attended musical theater. 

All three men in her life were quite distinct but she brought happiness to and received happiness back from each.

Marie is survived by her sons, Michael (Tracy) and Dennis (Aline), four grandchildren (Jaeson, Dana, Evan and Darren) and six great-grandchildren, as well as her sister, Gloria Martinez.


A Celebration of Life service is on hold awaiting official COVID-19 pandemic clearance.  If you would like to be notified of the event, please text “MARIE” and “Your Name” to Dennis (425 890-6687) at your convenience.  The family will contact you once arrangements are known.

In lieu of flowers, a Memorial Gift has been established in Marie’s name at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep.  Please follow the link ( and scroll down to Celebratory Gift Options or call 415.775.6626 ext. 759.

Marie Caulley with Dennis and Mike

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