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Carol Pistilli

October 30, 1943 ~ March 22, 2024 (age 80) 80 Years Old

Carol Pistilli Obituary

Carol L. Pistilli passed away peacefully in Boca Raton, FL. Carol often said, “When I was diagnosed with diabetes the doctors told me I had a 50/50 chance to live to 50”. She lived until she was 80 years old. Carol was born October 30, 1943, to Lou and Nan Smith. Over 50 years she was a resident of Mahwah, NJ and graduated from Mahwah High School. She soon married Leonard (John) Knorr after meeting at the rodeo. She was a barrel jumper, and he was a bronc rider. They had two children, Tammy Kruger, and Gregory Knorr.

Carol had a variety of interests that brought her many endearing friendships from people of all walks of life. She bred and showed St. Bernards and later Borzois. Her young children were pictured in a St. Bernard book and one of the Saints did a scene in an after school special on TV. Carol was an artist and ran a ceramic studio where she taught, painted, and fired pieces. She was a beautiful ballroom dancer and sewed her own sequined competition gowns. Carol was an avid bowler. There were trophies and ribbons all over the house for all of it. She took her mother to Bingo every Wednesday and picked berries for Grandma’s pies. She was a prolific knitter. Carol was a deep-sea fisherwoman and filled the freezer with blue fish and tuna. She had several different birds, and one would eat at the dining room table with us. Always an animal lover, she has a collection of about 900 panda bears. She cried at the play “The King and I’ as Yul Brynner's performance was particularly poignant; he was close to death himself. She laughed until she cried seeing Bill Cosby live, rolling over in her seat. She sang along to Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder live in concert. At Theatre-Go-Round Nanuet she gave Liberace a special gift of a bejeweled egg with a piano inside that she made special for him. It would later be spotted on TV at his home. Carol (and her mother) were epic hosts for a good party. Pool parties, card parties, New Year’s Day parties, 4th of July parties . . . Several generations of family gathered and recall fond memories of food, fun, and home brewed iced tea at the Knorr/Smith home.

Marrying Eddie Birch gave Carol much love and joy, but also immense heartache when he passed. Eddie was a blessing to Carol, and to her mother Nan in her last years. Eddie memorialized the song “What a Wonderful World” in our family forever, he sang it so beautifully.

Carol dreamed about living in Florida. She moved there in 1998 where she happily spent the rest of her life with Mike Pistilli. She also realized another dream in Florida which changed her life as she knew it. Interacting with big cats was a lifelong goal. She friended a man who kept lions and tigers fenced on his property. On February 2, 2002, she was helping him get ready for a photo shoot and walked into a cage that she was told was safe to paint. While painting, a tiger from nowhere came up from behind her and bit her head lifting her off the ground. She remembers the softness of his fur on her neck and hitting the ground hard when the tiger let go. She of course sustained lifelong injuries, but she cast no blame and harbored no bitterness. When authorities shot the tiger years later, she mourned for that tiger that changed her life. She contacted Roy of Siegfried and Roy after he was bitten by a tiger to give him encouragement.

She is preceded in death by her parents, beloved aunts and uncles, cousins, dear friends and was widowed by John Knorr and Eddie Birch. She is survived by her heartbroken husband Michael Pistilli, devasted children Tammy and Gregory and grandchild Hayley Knorr, and many grieving cousins, nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and friends. Carol’s kindness will carry in our hearts forever.

A one-hour viewing will be held at 9am on April 8th at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 257 Godwin Avenue, Wycoff, NJ. A graveside service will follow at Redeemer Cemetery, 90 Chapel Road, Mahwah, NJ at 10:30am. We will share a meal at Portobello Restaurant in Oakland, NJ after the graveside. Donations may be made to American Diabetes Association or your local Humane Society.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Carol Pistilli, please visit our floral store.

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April 8, 2024

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Vander Plaat Funeral Home
257 Godwin Avenue
Wyckoff, NJ 07481

Graveside Service
April 8, 2024

10:30 AM
Redeemer Cemetery, Mahwah


American Diabetes Association
PO Box 15829, Arlington VA 22215


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