Vivian Malatesta

Obituary of Vivian Atwood Malatesta

Vivian Atwood Malatesta left this life in the early morning hours of August 4, 2019, at the Bolivar Medical Center in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she had been a resident of Long Term Care. Vivian first arrived to Frank Atwood and Mary Hall Atwood on February 15, 1930, in Prentiss, Mississippi, where she grew up with her five siblings and at least one pet goat named Billy. A friend at the telephone company convinced her to move to Bolivar County for work where she met and married Victor Malatesta in 1952. He farmed, and she was the local librarian. They raised a family together, and they travelled the world together. Later, Ammaw and Papaw drove their grandchildren to beaches, big cities, mountains, amusement parks, plays, race tracks, casinos, and shows all over the country while they listened to broadway music and stand-up routines by Jerry Clower. Despite their best efforts, none of her grandchildren have ever travelled anywhere she has not already been. She attended mass almost every Sunday no matter where she was in the world, but she spent most of her life as an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shelby, Mississippi.


Vivian was a student, and later an example, of His forgiveness and mercy as she raised her family. Vivian did not merely endure, but prevailed, becoming a beacon of unwavering grace and patience. She never complained. She always forgave. She loved to read. She loved the theatre, bright lights, and broadway music. Some of the children she encouraged to read and learn at the library in Shelby, Mississippi would go on to care for her as medical professionals as she aged. Others still remember that she gave everyone who needed encouragement or help the same simple promise that she gave to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: everything is going to be ok. Friends and family were always welcome in her kitchen where the table grew to fit the chairs. She was generous, providing a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or discerning advice between helpings of soaked salads, fried chicken, boccolotis with meat gravy, and banana pudding. Among her many legacies will be at leaving at least two generations of in-laws wondering why it isn’t a Real Sunday Dinner unless there is both pasta and fried chicken.


Vivian was preceded in death by her children Frank Malatesta and Michael Malatesta, her husband, Victor Malatesta, and her siblings Frank Atwood, Harry Atwood, and Hiliary Atwood. She is survived by her sisters, Sarah Atwood Rozier of Mobile, Alabama, Martha Atwood Glover of Collins, Mississippi and Nell Atwood McNease of Hattiesburg, MS; her children, Vicky Malatesta Cagliuso of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Ronnie Malatesta (Katie) of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Gail Malatesta Wilson of Shelby Mississippi; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. There will be a visitation at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Cleveland, Mississippi, at 10:00 am on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, followed by a funeral service at 11:00 am. Interment service will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 6, 2019, at Shelby City Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be Greg Malatesta, Kirk Malatesta, Gary Malatesta, Pete Malatesta, Jacob Malatesta, and Nicholas Malatesta. Honorary pallbearers will be Bernaro Malatesta and Tommy Malatesta.