On Monday, March 1st 2021, Mary Michele Cona Smeraldi, a devoted wife, mother of 5 daughters, grandmother of 9 grandchildren and great-grandmother to 2 great grandchildren passed away at the age of 97. Mary Smeraldi was born on January 7th, 1924 in Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi to Vincent Cona and Anna Sepe Cona.
Mary, the most strong-willed and loving mother and grandmother, is survived by her daughters, Cathi, Rose, Anna, Linda and Dawn; son in laws, Carl and John; grandchildren, Brian, Jeffery, Thomas, Amanda, Jamie, Analisa, Carlie, Alex and Hope; great-grandchildren; Logan and Grayson; and sister; Angelina.
Mary spent her childhood on a farm in Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, a charming town in Italy. She lived a simple life there, catering to her family’s farm, helping her mother make cheese and bread and made pilgrimages up to the Santuario di Montevergine where she worshiped the blessed mother and practiced her faith.
During World War II, at the age of 16, Mary solely traveled by boat passing through Ellis Island into the United States, where she was greeted by her father and uncle. Not knowing the language or her way around the unfamiliar city of New York, Mary was determined to build a life for herself. As a teenage immigrant she had little to her name but always believed that hard work and perseverance would lead to a great life which she instilled in each of her daughters and grandchildren.
Mary was fortunate to have two great loves in her life, who helped her create a beautiful family of girls. She successfully raised her daughters on a foundation of strength, dedication, love and the importance of family. Mary diligently spent her days as a talented seamstress, an avid gardener and a caretaker not only of her children but fostered 14 children through the Angel Guardian Home. For years she volunteered at the Suffolk County developmental center helping children with special needs. She valued farm to table Italian home-style cooking that brought her family together for Sunday dinners. She treasured the Sunday’s during the summer, spent at Cedar Overlook Beach, being the first to gather the tables that were to hold the famous dishes made by her brothers and sisters that brought together their families. From sunrise to sunset her family and relatives gathered to listen to music, share stories, food and homemade wine, creating memories to last a lifetime. Mary loved to see the world and appreciate God’s creations that surrounded her. She traveled to Spain, Italy, Africa, the Caribbean Islands and all across America, always bringing back trinkets from her travels.
Mary had given so much while raising her daughters and foster children, but it didn’t stop her from also raising her beloved grandchildren. She valued every moment with them, cooking her famous cavatelli and meatballs, homemade ravioli, and legendary giant-sized pancakes topped with powdered sugar and Aunt Jemima syrup. She showed them the importance of growing a beautiful garden filled with herbs, tomatoes, eggplants and last but not least her precious figs. Mary was there for the little and big moments in their lives watching with such pride of whom they’ve become.
Mary devoted her life to serving and providing for her family; she could always be found in the kitchen cooking up a storm, attending to her garden, watching her stories, or playing bingo. Her love for long walks is what she believed brought her to live to the age of 97. She was known as the old lady in the Adidas tracksuit and movie star sunglasses that walked 2 miles every day.
Mary was an extraordinary woman whose legacy will live on for generations to come and be treasured by all whose lives she touched. Her cherished daughters will forever remember her as a woman of solidity, grit and resilience. Her grandchildren will remember her as the fun-loving grandma who made them laugh, showed them how to cook and was always there to put life’s hardships into perspective. Mary lived a great life built on hard work, dedication and sacrifice and will forever be remembered by all who knew her. Her family takes great comfort in knowing Mary is in heaven, greeted by the Lord and awaited by those family members and friends who have gone before her in faith.