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Lucille Madonia Tese (Lu) was an extraordinary woman: intelligent, capable, wise and understanding, generous and loving. She was a very strong woman, but equally loving and forgiving.
Lu had a good life, not without its share of sorrow, but her disposition was essentially a happy one that drew people to her, people of all ages, and made them friends for life. Lu’s early years were spent in a 3-storey brownstone in Brooklyn, bought by her father in the 1920s with money he’d earned after immigrating from Sicily. Here she was surrounded by a large and loving family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom she cherished.
After her graduation from Our Lady of Lourdes primary school, Lu started high school at Saint Francis Xavier Academy, only a few blocks from Berkeley Place, in Park Slope, but in 1946 her father decided it was time to move out of Brooklyn to somewhere greener, quieter, where his children could experience a different kind of life. So she moved to New Rochelle, where she made new friends at her new school, Blessed Sacrament. She went on to college at Mount Saint Vincent, always gathering more friends, whom she would introduce to her cousins and gather into outings to Hudson Park or Jones Beach or Playland for the rides and the fireworks. Lu always orchestrated a good time.
While at the Mount, Lu took her first trip to Europe, to Italy – the first of a lifetime of travels throughout the U.S. and the world. After two years at Mount Saint Vincent, Lu transferred to NYU, attending classes while helping her father in his printing business. After graduating, she joined The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration, leaving Einstein to become Deputy Director of Administrative Services for the Maternity, Infant Care & Family Planning Project in New York City. All of the clinics in the project were her domain and she ran from one to the other, keeping an eagle eye on all, until her retirement some 30 years later.
Lu’s personal life was marked by tragedy in her 20s when her fiancée, who had returned from a tour of duty in the Korean War, died suddenly. Heartbroken, Lu eventually managed to get on with her life, bolstered by friends and family, especially her brother, Pete and Nancy’s, growing brood of children: Peter, Julie, Doug, Lizzie, Danny, David, each of whom brought her great joy. Eventually, in 1969, Lu found a new partner for life and married Raymond Tese, a lawyer who shared her Sicilian background, her love of travel and a life centered around friends, family and their accomplished careers. They moved to Hillsdale, close to Pete and Nancy, whose sons and daughters grew up and had children of their own.
There were now great-nieces and great-nephews that Lu and Raymond could shower with love, coaxing them to come for sleepovers, taking them on trips to explore new places, going to their high school games when they could, attending their performances in school plays. Lu loved those children as she had her nieces and nephews, and Raymond did, too.
Late in 2001, Raymond was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and Lu dedicated her life to caring for him until his death in January of 2002. Once again Lu fought heartbreak, rejoining her cousin, Camille, as Raymond had urged, for more adventures including trips to Rome, Milan, Venice, the Adriatic coast to the Gargano Peninsula, Assisi, the Amalfi Coast, and various cruises to Egypt, and Turkey, Israel, and Greece, New Zealand and Australia and Singapore. When not travelling, she continued to share in the lives of her brother and Nancy, her nieces and nephews and their children, as well as her cousins.
At this point, she gained an entirely new community of dear friends when she joined the congregation at Saint Gabriel’s, where she became Eucharistic Minister and active participant in the Seniors and other groups. Her church and other volunteer activities made for a full and gratifying life.
As fortunate as we were to have known and loved Lucille, she, too, was fortunate to have the love of so many nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, their husbands and wives, her church community and neighbors in return. Whatever her troubles, they have remained a source of solace and comfort and joy to her, as has the new generation of babies. Nothing made Lu happier than Face-Timing with her great, great nephews, Lara and Mark’s Tommy and Charlie, and Maggie and Mike’s Will and Ollie who, after squeals and hugs of greeting, would announce they were too busy to hang around. Her final year was marked by even greater joy as she welcomed two great, great nieces – Fiona and Arya. She cherished it all.
Fundamental to Lu’s entire life was a steadfast and strong Catholic faith, one that carried her throughout hers joys and sorrows until her final days. We will miss her greatly, but we are comforted by so many good memories and the knowledge that she rests with her loved ones in God’s arms. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her name can be made to her favorite charity at www.edpowerment.org.
P.O. Box 641, Saddle River NJ 07458