Anne Prete, 93, founder of Alverno Religious Art and Books, co-founder of Christian Family Movement

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Anne Testa Prete, 93, of Oak Park, died on May 5, 2014, at Belmont Village in Oak Park. Born in Chicago on June 19, 1920 in Our Lady of the Angels Parish where she lived for 40 years and met Gerald (Jerry) Prete at the OLA young adult club. They married at OLA in 1942. She had her first two children while her husband served in the Army and had the loving support of her mother and father, Augustina and Joe Testa. 

After World War II, Anne and Jerry were deeply involved in the community at Our Lady of the Angels. Anne was a member of the Catholic Women's Club, and they were a founding couple of the Christian Family Movement, where husbands and wives came together to study scripture and then resolve how to live that lesson in their lives. They helped spread this group throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

After nine years with only two children, the Pretes were blessed with four more between 1952 and 1958. In 1960, the family moved to Oak Park, taking up residence at 829 S. Ridgeland Ave. and joining Ascension Parish where her four younger children attended school.

Mrs. Prete was unusual for her time because she was not only the mom of a large family but also the owner of a growing business that she began in 1958. Alverno Religious Art and Books started at Chicago and Hamlin, and as the business grew, it moved to 5239 W. Irving Park Road. 

She carried all the traditional medals, First Communion rosaries, and Lives of the Saints but also wanted to cater to the laity and clergy who were looking for books, music, vestments, and art that reflected the spirit of Vatican II spirit infusing the Catholic Church in the Chicago area. 

A pioneer woman in a male-dominated business, she worked side by side with her daughters, Mary Prete Dalbis and Debbie Wnukowski. Anne and Mary created the first national religious goods catalogue, which gave Alverno a national and international sales base. Alverno was sold in 1995 to RCL Enterprises Corporation. 

In September of 2000, the Pretes moved to Holly Court Terrace, where Jerry died in November 2002 after they celebrated their 60th anniversary. Anne lived at Holly Court until 2010 and then moved to Belmont Village, where she was loved and cared for until her death. 

Anne Prete is survived by her children, Nancy (John) Leavy, Michael (Patrice), Mary (Peter) Dalbis, Deborah (Kenneth) Wnukowski, and James (Gayle) Prete, and her siblings, Sarah Scolaro and Sam Testa. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald (Jerry) Prete, and her son, Joseph (Sheri). 

Visitation was held on May 9 at Peterson Funeral Home, 6938 W North Ave., Chicago, IL 60707. A funeral Mass was celebrated on May 10 at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park.

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