Marie Lattari was born in New York City in 1923. Her parents were born in Ukraine and immigrated as teenagers to New York. She grew up in the Yorkville section on the Upper East Side. Her father worked as a blacksmith for the city transit system, and her parents were very involved in the Ukrainian community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She grew up during the Great Depression and went to public schools in New York City. During World War II, she worked as a civilian employee for the Army Exchange Service in the Special Services Division. She began there as a secretary and then managed the classified materials section in the division. She and her husband, a World War II veteran, raised their five children in the Bronx, New Rochelle and Denville, New Jersey. Later, she became a braille transcriber.