The Andretti family has lost their matriarch with the death, last night, of Dee Ann Andretti, 76, Mario’s wife of well over 50 years. She leaves behind her husband, sons Michael and Jeff, daughter Barbie Dee and seven grandchildren.
The duo met when Dee Ann Hoch was teaching English to the newly-arrived Italian in Nazareth, Penn., the hometown where the Andretti family still lives. They married late in 1961 and, while Mario Andretti traveled the country and the world displaying his racing talents to fans around the globe after their three children were born, Dee Ann kept the home hearth warm, giving Mario family life that balanced against the elitism of high-end motorsport.
Mrs. Andretti suffered a massive heart attack a couple of weeks ago and was admitted to hospital at that time. Mario left her only to fulfill his obligations at Road America for the Verizon IndyCar Series event in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. At that race, he told close friends and associates that he needed everyone’s prayers for the family.
While Dee Ann did attend many USAC races early in Mario’s career, she considered her No. 1 job taking care of the family. She would come to some races but those appearances lessened over the past decade or so. Mario Andretti’s office said there would “complications that could not be overcome,” and that the family was by her side.
Funeral arrangements are pending.