Vittoria Monica Bossi


If there existed a person who could successfully convince God and St. Peter that some wretched soul deserved entry into heaven, it was Vittoria “Vitto” Bossi. Her gift for storytelling swayed many an audience, juries included. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it was all charm; Vittoria had a keen grasp of the law and of human nature. She knew just what arguments were needed to sway opinion in favor of her clients, and she was renowned throughout the San Joaquin Valley for ferocity in the courtroom.

For those of us who knew her indomitable willpower, it came as quite a shock when, on March 17th, 2021, Vittoria succumbed to the effects of Covid-19 in the ICU at St. Joe’s in Stockton. Though she had been fighting since New Year’s, in our heart of hearts, we all thought she was strong enough to beat Covid. Our optimism had been fueled because, every time the doctors counted her out, Vittoria had rallied.

Vitto’s aura of indestructibility might have come from her surviving a fall of more than 130 feet while spelunking at Moaning Caverns 25 years ago. She spent 6 months in a HALO while her fractured neck healed. After a year of physical therapy, she went back to full time work. For more than 30 years, and despite constant pain, Vittoria worked tirelessly on behalf of others. Even in the ICU, she was still texting with clients. Every single day, Vittoria Bossi put aside her own pain and her own needs in the service of others.

Vittoria is survived by her daughter, Kenyan Reign Bossi-Vanatta, her mother, Vicki Ebe Bossi, as well as André Vanatta and Scott and Mathew Hernandez. Vittoria also leaves behind many friends whom she’d adopted as family. The hardest part for everyone was that Covid protocols prevented us from being by her side as she battled. We couldn’t tell her about the outpouring of love, respect, and admiration that she received from all levels of the Stockton community. How often do you find felons, court staff, lawyers and judges at the same candlelight vigil? That egalitarian spirit was Vittoria Bossi.

Almost all of Vittoria’s clients and their families have their own story of her kindness and generosity. Here is just one example: a man came in to hire Vittoria with $200 he’d scraped together to pay for legal services for which most lawyers would charge $2,000+. She not only took on the case for free, Vittoria gave him $300. She wasn’t all sweetness and light, however. In the midst of an elegant dinner in San Francisco, she’d step outside and could be overheard yelling at a client, “Don’t be such a f#£ing idiot! This deal is a gift!” Whether it was through cajoling a scared teenager into telling the truth, or browbeating a hardened felon into accepting a sweetheart deal, Vittoria seemed more a force of nature than a mortal woman.

As ferocious as she could be, she was a softy when it came to animals. In fact, Vittoria and her many rescued office cats were featured on the Record’s front page. One such cat, Ray, was born without eyes. For two years, Ray was stuck in a small cage because no one wanted to adopt a blind cat. She knew she didn’t need a 14th cat, but when Christmas came around, Vittoria said, “All I want for Christmas is Ray, because no one else will save him.” She always needed to rescue the most damaged among us. To her, a perfect gift was giving a neglected creature a better life. After each crazy day in court, Ray climbed into her lap. Once he’d helped her relax, he perched on her chair-back and guarded her like a totem. She ended every workday by making sure her kitties got their treats.

Vittoria was the single most generous person we will ever meet in our lifetimes. If she saw a homeless person with a dog, she would give him $20 and also bring back a bag of dog food. In honor of her memory, what she would want most is for people to donate, either time, money, or both to a charity that supports animal rescue, the homeless, or criminal justice reform.

A Celebration of Life will be held as soon as Covid-19 protocols allow.

Please continue to check Vittoria’s Facebook page for details.

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