Her enthusiasm and charm were contagious and she knew no stranger
Els Cardi of East Greenwich passed away peacefully on Dec. 6, surrounded by her loving family. She was 91 years young.
Els was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She was brave from a young age, helping to resist the Nazis as a soldier-spotter during the occupation and looking after her two little sisters. Despite the hardships of war, Els developed a signature sense of humor, a blunt honesty, and a contagious smile. She loved classical music and learned to play the piano with her two sisters. After the war, at age 24, she moved to the United States with both her young daughters to pursue new adventures. She turned that intrepid spirit into her career, becoming a travel agent, a job that combined her gift for languages, her love of travel, and her natural way with people.
Once settled in Rhode Island, she married the love of her life, Antonio Cardi, president of Cardi Corporation. In their 51 years of marriage, the duo had an active life full of joie de vivre. They traveled around the world, sailed across the ocean, and skied and played golf with friends and family. She and Tony shared a love for music and were always the first ones on the dance floor. When she wasn’t traveling, chatting with friends on the phone, or spending time with family, she loved to paint and play the piano.
Els was active in the community as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and as a board member of the Providence Philharmonic. But what most people will remember about this tall, strong Dutch woman was how she embraced life. Her enthusiasm and charm were contagious and she knew no stranger. In her final days, she made many new friends with residents and staff at St. Elizabeth’s Community.
Els is survived by her husband, Tony; her daughter Ingrid Bennett and husband Rowland; her daughter Karin Layman and husband David; son Stephen Cardi II; daughter Carolyn Gardy and husband David. She was “Oma” to grandchildren Natasha Gallipeau and husband Eli; Cassandra and Christiana Layman; Sarah, Celeste and Julia Gardy; Noelle Cardi; Jessica Gallipeau; Savannah and Maddison Bennett. She is also survived by sisters Hens Vlam and Louise Verwaaijen Paauwe. She was predeceased by her parents Dorothea and Casper Christian Verwaaijen.
The Cardi Family wishes to thank Els’ caretakers for years of dedicated service, kindness, and friendship. Thanks also to the staff at The Cove at the St. Elizabeth Community in East Greenwich for the love and care they provided. A special thanks to Denise Marginson, a former colleague and friend who was always there to care for both Els and Tony.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Monday, Dec. 11, at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 65 Third St., East Greenwich. Burial was private.
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