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Elvira was born on December 6, 1924, to Michael and Giustina Tanasso in Portocannone, Italy. A determined student she finished her studies in 1946, earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Naples. After emigrating to the United States in 1947, Elvira met Carlo Prisco, a graduate student working towards his Ph.D. in Modern Languages on the G.I. bill. They married in 1948 and daughter Lelia and son Enzo were born soon after.

Beginning her career teaching Latin at Lyndhurst High School in 1956, Elvira soon joined the faculty at Seton Hall University where she taught mainly Italian for the next 31 years. Elvira and husband Carlo, a Professor of Modern Languages, often shared teaching stories and talked shop at home. After retirement in the mid-1990s they took time to travel, mostly within the United States and Canada.

Elvira and Carlo lived in Cedar Grove, New Jersey for nearly half a century. They enjoyed the friendship of long-time neighbors and Elvira loved to garden. Following Carlo's death in 2007, Elvira moved to Manhattan and in the last two years shared a residence with daughter Lelia and son-in-law Stephen. Elvira died peacefully at home with her daughter by her side. She was preceded in death by her son Enzo in 2013. She is survived by daughter Lelia, son-in-law Stephen, and granddaughter Carla.