Obituary of Leonora Damiano
Most people never have an opportunity to see an angel or simply do not look well enough to see them walking among us. This, however, does not mean they do not exist. We are some of the lucky few, for not only have we seen an angel, we call her our Mother.
Dr. Leonora Damiano was called home to God on September 12, 2020, surrounded by her family, love and prayer.
Born June 19, 1935 to the late Daniel and Mary (Peccatiello) Rizzolo in Newark NJ, Leonora resided in West Windsor from 1972-1993, Monroe Township for the past 27 years and was a lifelong New Jerseyan.
Leonora attended Barringer HS in Newark, NJ graduating Valedictorian. She then attended Montclair State College for 3 years before answering God’s call and entered the Order of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist in Glen Cove, NY as a novitiate. Sister Marie Danete (named for her parents) joyfully served with the sisters for 5 years teaching grades 5-8 at St. Bernard’s School in Plainfield, NJ. After prayerful contemplation, she left the order and returned to finish her undergraduate degree at Seton Hall University. It was there that she met the love of her life, Ben Damiano. They married in August 1959 at a nuptial Mass at St. Michael’s church in Newark, NJ and made their home in South Orange, NJ.
In the 1960’s, Leonora and Ben were blessed with four children. They welcomed their first daughter, Diane, born on Memorial Day 1960. In 1961 they were blessed with the birth of their second daughter, Karen, on Christmas Day. In 1963 their only son, Thomas was born, with Judy following in 1966 making their family complete.
While raising her family, Leonora continued teaching Spanish and English for many years in the Newark school system making an impact on every student and coworker she encountered, not only educating but passing on her blessings by helping her students most in need by purchasing shoes and clothing when needed. She spent countless hours on the phone in the evenings reaching out to parents and grandparents to the betterment of her students. She advanced from teacher to Department Chairperson and was also instrumental in creating the foreign language curriculum for the city of Newark.
Education being of the utmost importance to Leonora, she completed the master’s degree in Spanish Literature in 1977 from Seton Hall University after spending the summer of 1976 abroad to immerse herself fully in the Spanish culture and people. In 1977 and 1978, she took groups of her students back to Spain. To accomplish this, she helped the students with fundraising, so it was not a financial burden to their families. Leonora was so dedicated to advancing her education that in 1987 she received her Ph.D. from Fordham University in Curriculum Development.
She retired in 1993 after suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage that ended her career but not her purpose in life.
During her retirement, Leonora continued to share her love of God and gift of teaching by becoming a CCD instructor at Queenship of Mary Catholic Church in Plainsboro, NJ. There she and Ben taught religious education together for 5 years.
Throughout the years, Leonora and Ben traveled the world visiting Canada, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Ireland, France, and Mexico. Devoutly Catholic, they made pilgrimages to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, the Holy Land and the Vatican, culminating in the privilege of having met Pope John Paul II twice.
Leonora and Ben had an unwavering faith in God and had been devout members of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Hightstown, NJ for many years. They became very close friends with Father Patrick McDonnell and Sheila Conway and could often be found having coffee together at Dunkin Donuts.
Leonora is predeceased by her loving husband of 57 years, Boniface J. Damiano, her brother, Ernest Rizzolo and her son-in-law Steven Fisher who all passed in 2017.
Leonora is survived by her children: Diane Fisher of Mercerville, NJ, Karen Petrucelli (Steve) of Cranbury, NJ, Thomas Damiano (Megan) of San Juan Capistrano, CA, and Judy Loving (Walter) of Edgerton, MO. Thirteen grandchildren: Walter Loving (Elizabeth), Jeff Fisher (Amanda), Corinne Schwartz (Vincent), John Petrucelli, Lauren Murray (Heath), Alexandra Damiano, David Petrucelli (Sara Chuang) Andrew Fisher, Jenna Petrucelli, Katherine Damiano-Boggs (Daniel), Heather Fisher (Tyler), Benjamin Loving, Morgan Dyer (Cameron). Eleven great grandchildren: Zachary, Xavier, Grayson, Abigail, Aubrey, Brantley, Christopher, Alexander, Cole, William, and Lilly Rose.
Special love and gratitude to Nelly Tsutskiridze, Leonora’s loving caregiver for the past 6 years.
Donations can be made in memory of Leonora Damiano to St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church 251 Franklin St. Hightstown, NJ 08520 to go towards the Faith Forward religious education program for children in grades 1-8.
Visitation will be from 9:30 am to 10:45 am on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at the M. David DeMarco Funeral Home, Inc. 205 Rhode Hall Rd. Monroe Twp., NJ 08831. Funeral services will begin at the conclusion of the visitation at 10:45 am from the funeral home. A funeral liturgy will be 11:30 am at St. Anthony of Padua RC Church 251 Franklin St, Hightstown, NJ 08520 followed by Entombment in Holy Cross Burial Park Mausoleum, South Brunswick Twp.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leonora Damiano, please visit Tribute Store