Rosa Cammarosano

Rosa Cammarosano

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020
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Rosa was born to Vittoria Paolino & Francesco Benarrivato in Vallo della Lucania, province of Salerno, Italy as one of 6 siblings. Her character, tenacity & fierceness would be shaped by experiences in her early life. She became the oldest child after two brothers died. She nursed her mamma after losing sight in one eye. She would climb into the Italian hillside to get firewood for her home. At 14 years old Rosa bought her first treadle sewing machine on credit to survive WWII and all the poverty & destruction it brought Italy. Her father could not find work so Rosa learned skills as a seamstress to feed & support the family. Rosa would also sell the homemade soap her mother made.
Rosa married Pantaleo (deceased Nov 1985) in October, 1956 in Pompei. They had five children. She worked alongside her husband in the family cantina while being caregiver for her elderly in-laws. Her first born, Matalena, died of meningitis on July 25, 1957 at 11 months. Rosa had another three children while in Italy, Aniello, Carmine & Maria. Her mother, sisters & family in Sapri, Italy would take the children during week days to help out. As a young mother, Rosa & family would courageously set sail for America in Dec 1964 for a new life that provided many blessings. The first was the birth of Gigliola (Jill) the following July 1965 after having kept her secret before her journey so her family would not hold her back.
Rosa’s early years in America would be filled with raising her children, learning to speak English, sewing baptismal vestments for her church, seamstress work including at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the 1970’s and later at Cathy’s Original’s & Kleinfeld Bridal shop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY. There was always home cooking, Sunday family meals and running a family business, Leo’s Corner, pizzeria & restaurant. She would wisely get her children a tutor early on to help them thrive later in life. One of the few parties Rosa organized was held September 25, 1973 - the family became naturalized U.S. of America Citizens.
As her children became adults Rosa would engage & anchor in their new lives. Rosa was opinionated, overbearing, loud & brutally honest. Her large spirit was as big as her physical presence. The thing about Rosa was that once you understood where that passion came from, and you assumed good intent on her part, then you understood her essence. She would never let you down if you needed her help. Her many friends loved that about her.
Rosa provided unrelenting support for her son Neil’s family during the years when his now deceased wife, Regina, battled cancer. Rosa nurtures and gives love through food and she was always in Neil’s home when the grandchildren were young. In turn, Rosa was blessed to see her grandsons Neil Jr & Daniel, graduate college, marry and become admired parents themselves. Her great grandsons, Grant & Leo, along with their Dads & Danny’s wife Jamie, visited Rosa this past January to introduce the newest great grandchild, Olivia Rae born October 2019 to parents Jamie & Danny. Rosa would talk about how lovingly Danny cradled Olivia. Rosa would say Leo had a great name. At Leo’s Christening 2 years ago April 2018, Rosa’s heart swelled seeing the happy soul & little man Grant was becoming and how much he looked like his father, Neil Jr, when she took care of him at that age. The Priest at Leo’s Christening gave Rosa a benediction at the close of the christening in Italian. He asked “Are you the grandmother?” Rosa said “I the great grandmother!” After the blessing he said “all this is possible because of you.” Consistently, during the last 3 years of Rosa’s life while her health was in decline, Neil Sr would visit often, many times with Leo and talk about, current events, President Trump, family happenings with Luda, Olga, Vadim or their two daughters, Lillian and Amelia. Luda would make food for Rosa. Rosa said that was a sign of great love. Rosa admired the dress Lillian wore to the (grand) father & (grand) daughter dance social Neil Sr attended. Rosa was a custom dress maker and she appreciated these things. Amelia was born this past summer in early August in the same hospital, on the same floor, on the same day that Rosa was a patient fighting for her life. By the grace of God, Rosa would persevere and give us more time together until the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed the world & Rosa’s family lives forever.
Rosa’s daughter Maria was devoted to Rosa’s care and mental well-being. Rosa’s only material possession, her beloved Singer sewing machine, resides in Maria’s home. She sees the golden hands of Rosa on it every day and is grateful Rosa’s skills would so greatly transform the lives & destiny of her siblings by bringing them to America. Rosa’s greatest gift to Maria was helping her become a better human being by seeing the face of God in her love, care and healing. Rosa passed along the gift of humility, the lessons that everything has value & that you should give of yourself to others because you would get something back tenfold.
Maria’s husband, Bruce, loved Rosa. He says Maria is just like Rosa, looks like her too. At their wedding Rosa was picked up into air on a chair as part of the Horah dance. Instead of holding on Rosa’s blowing kisses with both hands. Thankfully, she did not slide off chair! Rosa took it as a big complement whenever Bruce would give her his sewing & alteration needs. She loved that he would rave about her cooking. She loved that Bruce was so generous to share Maria’s time with Rosa. She loved that Bruce read all the time and would ask Maria what did Bruce think on topics they’d discuss.
Rosa’s son Carmine moved to California and built a life there as an ophthalmologist. Carmine married Melissa and they visited the east coast on their honeymoon. Rosa traveled to California a few times in her life before she slowed down. One of the visits was to see her son’s first home which for a Mother is a significant milestone. Her last visit there would be most special because Rosa would meet her granddaughter Sophia during her first Christmas, accompanied by Maria & Bruce. The family, along with grandson, Carlo, would visit Rosa in late July 2019 for memorable days to lift Rosa’s spirits while she cycled through 5 months of hospitalization of life-threatening complications.
Rosa’s daughter Jill attentively cared for Rosa in her last years to ease any discomfort and ensure Rosa was not alone. Rosa would rave about the sfogliatella pastry Jill would bring her. So fresh. Delicious. They would have conversations galore about work & granddaughter, Alexis. Alexis graduated from graduate school in Florence, Italy in 2018. Rosa said if she were a few years younger she would have loved to travel to attend the graduation ceremony. Rosa would live long enough to see Alexis engaged to Richard Shapiro. Rosa will be smiling down from Heaven as Alexis and Richard marry on Dec 6, 2020 and will be checking out the wedding dress & the Mother of Bride dress for sure.
Rosa’s most content time was probably when she moved into assisted living at Norwegian Christian Home in Brooklyn. She made dear friends there. She would spend hours in the café, sewing & telling stories. She played bingo & won often, she attended mass in NCH said by Saint Regina Pacis. She held court and everyone gravitated to her. She was a sewing mentor & buddy to Marianna. The children of her dear friends would continue to stay in touch with her even after she left NCH. Her friend, Jenny, once said “I love Rosa but we fight & butt heads all the time.” Her daughter Maria answered “welcome to the family.” All her life, Rosa was taking control of situations and preparing for her transitions in life as she aged. She never wanted to be a burden on her family & she had independence in a community setting.
Rosa’s final year & half of life was not easy but being in Clove Lakes HC in Staten Island made it easier. She would need dialysis and physical therapy and the combo was offered in the building which eliminated lots of risks. Her aides & nurses took great care of her. Her dialysis team looked out for her. Everyone at Clove Lakes was “Honey” because they were all great people dedicated to her care. It didn’t matter who you were, if you walked past Rosa with pants that required hemming or other attire that did not fit properly, Rosa was going to ask you to strip so she could immediately do your alteration. Free of charge, of course.
Rosa was one of a kind Italian-American women. Those that knew her loved her spirit. And, if you let her love you she would suffocate you.
Rest in Peace, Rosetta. Siete sempre nel mio cuore e nei mei pensieri.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Greenwood Cemetery
    500 25th Street
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Posted at 05:00pm

I enjoyed the time I spent with your Mom. She was so genuinely real; she said what was on her mind. She showed so much love through cooking. It made me feel special. I try to remember that quality and lavish good food and love on our guests.

Lola Cuebas

Posted at 04:49am
May this tree Blossom & Bloom as you have in peoples hearts. Such a blessing in hearts of many. May you Rest In Peace .
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Rosa Cammarosano — Plant a Tree Now

John Light

Posted at 11:07am
Maria, with thoughts of peace and courage for you,
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Rosa Cammarosano — Plant a Tree Now

The Ehrenworth Family

Posted at 12:48pm
This tree is in honor of an amazingly strong and incredible woman. She loved her family, friends and people who came in and out of her life.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Rosa Cammarosano — Plant a Tree Now

Karen Ehrenworth

Posted at 12:44pm
Please accept my sincere condolences. I am truly sorry for your loss as I know how much Maria loves her mother. I felt like I know Rosa from all the wonderful stories Maria would share with me. My favorite was when Rosa would offer you sew the clothes on your back. That act of kindness shows how loving, caring and thoughtful she was. Maria and her mother have always been in my prayers and I will continue to keep them both close in my heart.

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