Elvezia (Gilardi) Fornara was the youngest of the three daughters of Eliseo and Margherita (Mariani) Gilardi. She was born on June 8, 1910, in a rooming house on the northwest corner of Granite and Gurley Streets in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory. She spent her early years in the Prescott area.

Elvezia attended Washington Elementary School in Prescott until the family moved to Clarkdale in 1922. She graduated from eighth grade at Clemenceau Public School in Cottonwood, Arizona.  Elvezia attended high school, participating in sports (much to her mother’s disapproval) and enjoying her school days. However, she became distracted by Angelo Fornara as he visited frequently.  Margherita became the matchmaker and coerced Elvezia into marrying him. She was only sixteen when they married in the Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Clemenceau, a smelter community near Cottonwood that no longer exists. The newly married couple continued to live in the Verde Valley, operating a dairy along with the Gilardi family.

Elvezia’s two children, Anna and Robert, were born while she was living in Cottonwood. Her father died in 1929, leaving Margherita a widow. Shortly thereafter, the families gave up individual homes and began a communal living arrangement in one large house. Margherita, her three daughters, their husbands, and their children shared in this family home and all moved to Prescott in 1939 to build what they called the “Big House,” which they moved into in 1941. In 1942, Elvezia and Angelo separated. She continued to live in the “Big House” and raised her two children surrounded by her loving, hard-working family.

Elvezia became a full time working partner in the dairy operation and in the Hassayampa Market in Prescott, when it opened in 1946. She bottled and delivered milk, worked in the market as chief cashier during the day, and in the evenings, she kept the books. She did everything, except milk the cows! She maintained this pace until 1979, when the market closed, and she retired. She continued as secretary-treasurer of the Hassayampa Market, Inc., overseeing the rentals owned by the corporation.

Elvezia was a very positive person with a cheery disposition and a ready smile. She loved children and opened her arms to those who came to her home or the market. She was a member of the Republican Women of Prescott, Sacred Heart Church and Catholic Daughters.

She was active until her death on February 9, 1995, from cancer. Elvezia was buried in the family plot at Mountain View Cemetery after a funeral at Sacred Heart Church.

Elvezia’s mother, Margherita (Mariani) Gilardi, and her sisters, Florida Fornara and Leonita Savoini, are also honorees in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden.

Donor: Anna Mary Fornara Olsen, daughter, June 2006
Photo Located: Yavapai County People & Family Collection – F-Fornara Family
Updated: 6/24/2015, D. Sue Kissel