We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Vander Plaat Funeral Home
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Jeanine Marie Sanfilippo, age 75. Jeanine was born in Brooklyn, NY and was the eldest of Dr. Joseph Panzarella Jr. and Josephine Panzarella’s seven children. A quiet child, Jeanine helped her mother to look after her younger siblings and was inspired by her father, Joseph’s love of science and medicine and, both parent’s, dedication to the service of others. She excelled in school, and spent many hours with her grandparents, whom she adored, and extended family, and could often be found, in her lifelong passion of reading.
Jeanine followed in her father’s footsteps, graduating from Adelphi University in 1968 and becoming a Registered Nurse at New York University Hospital – caring for the ill and discovering her life’s calling of service for others, often before herself. In 1968, Jeanine met the love of her life, Joseph Sanfilippo. She often spoke of the night they met, when he crashed a party she was hosting and whisked her away through Central Park for a Hansom Cab ride into the early hours of the morning – despite a nursing shift the following day. The two were soon married on Valentine’s Day in 1970, in the midst of a great blizzard – nothing could stop these two and the love they shared.
In 1974, Jeanine gave birth to the couple’s first daughter Lisa Marie and she retired from nursing to devote herself to raising her children. Daughter Dana Lynn was born soon after and youngest Cara Grace completed the family several years later. The young family lived in Staten Island for many years, before relocating to Oakland, NJ, and built many beautiful memories traveling around the US and Caribbean – Jeanine always imparting a sense of wonder of the unique local cultures and traditions for her family. When the girls got a bit older, Jeanine decided to pursue a teaching certificate at Brooklyn College, again responding to an innate desire to nurture others. She soon got a job at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oakland and after several years, she and Joe opened their own Pre-K school, Alphabet Castle in Ramsey, NJ. Jeanine cared for those children as if they were her own, often offering tuition exceptions for underprivileged children so they could be cared for by her loving staff at the school. The school was sold in 2006 and with Joe retired, the girls off to college and pursuing their independence, Joe and Jeanine returned to their great shared love of traveling. While her health allowed, the two travelled around the world – reveling in delicious food, cultures and norms and regaling all who would listen with their (mis)adventures. Their home was always filled with laughter, a healthy dose of ribbing and a delight in the warm fabric of life that they created together.
Jeanine Marie Sanfilippo was a wonder and a bright light in this world. Her love and kindness was evident to all who met her and her departure leaves a void for all she leaves behind.
Surviving is her loving husband Joseph Sanfilippo, her devoted daughters, Lisa Sanfilippo, Dana and husband Jim McGovern and Cara Sanfilippo and husband Adam Holz. Jeanine was adored by her three grandchildren, Grace, James and Shane McGovern. She also leaves behind siblings Joseph Panzarella, Jennifer Villacci, James Panzarella and Judy Panzarella as well and many deeply cherished nieces, nephews and friends.
The Sanfilippo family will receive friends and family on Tuesday May 24th from 2 to 4 PM and 7 to 9PM at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 257 Godwin Avenue, Wyckoff NJ. Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 117 Franklin Avenue, Oakland, NJ on May 25th at 11am.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Liver Foundation
American Liver Foundation
PO Box 299, West Orange NJ 07052