With an extensive family history of grandparents, parents, and a sibling embracing learning, it’s no surprise that Gloria Pieretti helped educate many in her lifetime.
Now, thanks to Gloria, many future Western Nevada College students will be educated with a $1.25 million endowment in her name through the Testolin Pieretti Family Scholarship.
“My sister has been the most generous of family donors all these years,” said Norma P. Frey. “It’s his way of honoring our mother and father and our family and cultural heritage. They saw education as a way to have a better life, not just for financial gain, but as a way to create a better world.
Norma described her sister as a dedicated and hardworking person, an astute financial manager, an avid reader, a traveler, a supporter of the arts, a good neighbour, a loyal friend and a dedicated extended family member.
“She kept a positive attitude all her life, even as she grew increasingly frail. Gloria was my oldest sister and my only sister, and I am grateful that she was a part of my life for 74 years” , said Norma.
The importance of education was not lost on the Testolins and the Pierettis, although it took extra effort to gain access to it and their father’s willingness to leave the country to receive specific training.
Gloria and Norma’s family has spent time in two cities where Western Nevada College has campuses – Carson City and Fallon. All four of their grandparents immigrated from Italy to Northern Nevada in the late 19e century and until the beginning of the 20e century. Their mother Ida’s family, the Testolins, were drawn to Fallon’s farm around 1907 after the Lahontan Dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation. Ida became the only child of Antonio Testolin and Italia Binotto Testolin’s seven children to attend college. She attended the University of Nevada in Reno, graduating as a teacher to help educate the children of the area’s early settlers in one-room schools in Washoe Valley and near Dayton.
Their father, Frank, traveled between two countries for his education. Frank’s mother, Angelina, took him and her brother from Dayton to Lucca, Italy, so they could get a better education. Frank spent 13 years in Italy before returning to the United States in 1932 to avoid being drafted into Benito Mussolini’s army. Like his future wife, Ida, Frank set the family standard by attending UNR to get certified as a civil engineer in Nevada.
They only knew each other because Ida taught and lived at the Quilici Ranch, which was not far from the Pieretti family ranch along the Carson River. Their relationship blossomed and they married in 1939.
Gloria was born in 1940 in Carson City and the family lived there briefly before moving to Sacramento, where Frank was employed by the Army Corps of Engineers before the United States entered World War II. Gloria became well educated, attending Holy Angels Parish School, All Hallows Parish School, St. Francis High School and Bishop Armstrong High School.
After graduating, Gloria followed her parents into higher education, attending Sacramento State College. She graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Arts in 1962. She went on to SSC to graduate from high school, then began teaching students home economics and art at Roseville High School.
Eventually, a desire to teach students of all ages, Norma said, persuaded Gloria to teach the basics of cooking through outreach programs offered by the Sacramento City District and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. For PG&E, she trained middle and high school students, as well as community groups and migrant farm workers stretching from Salinas to Solvang, California.
“It was a lot of territory to cover, but she seemed to like the challenge,” Norma said.
PG&E promoted Gloria to a new role in Oakland after it discontinued its educational outreach program.
“She conducted energy audits, educating large companies on how they could save energy and reduce electricity bills. She was always teaching! says Norma.
Even after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, she continued to work for PG&E, supervising employees testing household appliances to improve their energy efficiency.
“As her illness progressed, she was unable to continue the commute and daily workload,” Norma said. “She’s ‘retired’, but worked as a consultant for PG&E for a few years, running their East Bay United Way campaign, yet another way to help her community.”
Gloria passed away in November 2021, but her legacy lives on through her dedication to educating others through the Testolin Pieretti Family Scholarship.
Lauren Olson, a recent scholarship recipient, benefited from the scholarship when she completed her nursing education in 2022.
“I am forever grateful to them,” Olson said. “I was able to do my studies and not be super stressed about finances. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart people like you for making my dreams come true.
Norma said the scholarship in the name of the two families was a way to honor them for highlighting the importance of education in the lives of their children so that they would make it a priority indefinitely.
“She also helped my husband and I give our 5 grandchildren a college education. She gave generously to help her family, friends and others throughout her life,” Norma said.
This access to higher education removes a major obstacle for students who did not think it was possible to go to university.
“Gloria truly believed in supporting those who wanted to pursue an education, whether it was in the trades, nursing or getting a college degree – those who needed a helping hand,” Norma said. .
Each year, five WNC students have their tuition and fees paid through the Testolin Pieretti Family Scholarship. It’s a gift that Gloria knew was worth extending indefinitely.