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Marie Thylstrup, 92, passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon, April 27, 2022, at the Jim & Betsey Bryan Hospice Home in Pittsboro, N.C., surrounded by family & friends.

She was born Alfonsina Maria Barbone, to Gabriele Barbone (1893-1994) and Silvia De Mita (1893-1993) on July 16, 1929, in the small village of Nusco in Campania, Italy, about one hour from Naples. Like all members of the Barbone family, she was born at home, in a building at via Roma 5 which has been in the family’s possession since 1700.

After completing classical and humanities studies, she left for Brooklyn, N.Y., in the U.S. to join her father who had emigrated several years before. It was in New York that she began her career as an accountant, first at the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, and then later at a bank.

In 1956, she met the love of her life, Charles J. Thylstrup (1924-2016), an American of Danish descent. They married seven months later on February 9, 1957, at St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. They settled in the Bronx, later moving to New Jersey and then finally to Fearrington VIllage in Pittsboro.

They had an extremely happy marriage which lasted 59 years, until Charles’ death on July 31, 2016. Together, they shared many adventures in their travels to Europe (Spain, Switzerland, Italy) and throughout the U.S.

In Italy, they re-visited several places where Charles had served as a medic during WWII, and to see relatives in Rome, Naples and Nusco.

Marie was known to all in Italy as Pupetta (doll) and Zia (aunt). Pupetta was especially known as a woman of extreme elegance, beauty and intelligence, with an ever-modern and progressive spirit. Her motto was “I’m still learning!” ­— a phrase by Michelangelo Buonarotti.

Thanks to her incredible photographic memory, she loved to spend time writing and telling stories about her ancestors and her town — stories either handed down to her or experienced first-hand. She could describe facts, people and environments in amazing detail, drawing a picture for the listener.

Endowed with a lively intellect, she was always attentive to any significant past or current event, actively participating in the political life of her adopted country without ever losing sight of the birthplace that had given her rich traditions. In fact, she loved to read both American and Italian newspapers (on the internet). Despite her age, she learned to use a PC, Mac and then the iPad.

When she entered the hospital on Tuesday, April 19, she was informed by the doctor that she would only have two minutes to live once she removed the bi-pap mask to speak with her family. With FaceTime, she was able to address family in Italy, Saudi Arabia and New York to say, “My dear family, I have called to tell you that I am happy, I have loved and I felt loved. I have no regrets. I am serene and you must always smile.”

Of course, she confounded the doctors by speaking and laughing for two hours rather than two minutes, and living another eight days, long enough to greet her niece, Silvia Barbone, who had travelled 20 hours to be with her.

Marie is survived by her nephews, Mario, Gabriele and Giuseppe; her nieces, Silvia and Paola; her niece-in-law, Laura; her two great-nieces, Elenora and Beatrice; her American cousin, Elizabeth and her goddaugher, Celeste.