Fatima Francesca Ginocchio, life partner to Dave Cole and daughter to Micaela van Zwoll, died suddenly on December 1, 2020, from complications after a six-month battle against a very rare form of melanoma.
Francesca was born on December 29, 1983, in San Francisco, California. Her infancy in the Philippines, education at Notre Dame des Victoires and the French American International School in San Francisco, formed her love of culture, food, and language. Academically gifted, she represented her school in France and Tahiti.
Francesca graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Asian Studies. Her passion for culture and cuisine grew from multiple extended visits to France, China, and the Philippines. Brave and discerning, she happily looked up special restaurants and didn’t shy from epicurean adventures. A primary joy was hosting delicious dinners for her friends and family. Francesca worked at a beloved Oakland pub and a chic New York restaurant, where her magnetism and spirit attracted the attention of locals and coworkers alike. She was valued and cultivated lifelong friendships.
In 2014, Francesca moved to New York City to complete her Master of Arts (TESOL) at Hunter College, where she found her professional calling and taught English as a Second Language at Lower East Side Preparatory High School. She excelled in a role that combined her interests in language and young people.
Francesca had two younger siblings: Tomas and Micaela. She was proud of them and was a role model. She modeled community service as a teenaged lifeguard, with love of competition as an adult swimmer in Masters Leagues. From infancy, she crossed the Pacific to the Philippines and Venezuela, then the Atlantic on annual school trips. She lived in France and visited Europe, and as a young woman she traveled to Belize, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan and Panama with her friends, to Greece and Turkey with her sister, and many other countries with her mother. She became a true epicure, and was wildly creative.
A talented and dynamic teacher who never hesitated to put in the work to uplift others, her students adored her. She had an innate ability to connect with young people and became an inspirational and influential teacher. Recognized by Hunter College for teaching excellence, an annual award (that she once received) is now named in her honour, as the Francesca Ginocchio Excellence in Teaching Award.
It was in New York that Francesca and Dave became a couple. Each other’s date at Senior Ball in high school, they shared a common group of friends. When they found each other in Brooklyn they became a little family with their two dogs, Monte and Tito. Dave and Francesca connected on an enviable level, highly creative, intelligent and “cool.” She proudly brought friends and family to his performances in New York and San Francisco and danced to his music. They were immersed in all the live music, restaurants and museum visits imaginable. They visited Prospect Park with their dogs, watched independent films, biked around Brooklyn, and traveled to Mexico and Portugal. In April 2020, they returned to the San Francisco Bay Area because of the pandemic. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with cancer. She spent her last days teaching her students (online) in New York, and at home with her partner and their two dogs, surrounded by friends and family.
Francesca’s magnetic personality and authentic life inspired us. She made lifelong friends in a very short time. She lived and traveled and spoke 3 languages; while hitting the dance floor in every town. She will be remembered for her approach to living a full life, compassion for others, and her adventurous soul. She was loving, deeply intellectual, beautiful, and a bright light in our lives. She was a gift to all who met her.
Francesca is survived by the love of her life, Dave Cole, by her mother Micaela V. van Zwoll and step-father, John D. Green, her siblings Tomas Xavier Martinez and Micaela Angela (Mei-Mei) Martinez, and many friends in New York, California, France, and the Philippines.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Francesca Ginocchio Memorial Fund at the San Francisco Foundation.