A week of losses

Leave a comment
Better times: Me, surrounded by my “WOW” sisters Gloria D’Amico and Glora Aloise, and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.
Better times: Me, surrounded by my “WOW” sisters Gloria D’Amico and Glora Aloise, and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

It was a sad January 2 when I got the call that cherished friend Gloria Aloise, who had been ill for several years, lost her battle with Parkinson’s disease. But it was a shock when I got the call that my beautiful friend Georgiana Reese-Benatti had lost her beloved Ray, who suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly at home. And with a heavy heart, Debra Markell Kleinert and Barry her husband had to put down their best friend and companion, their beloved purebred dog, Sandy. Then, this past weekend, one of my devoted employees, Barbara Fusco, passed away also. What a week!

I met Gloria Aloise when I met Gloria D’Amico decades ago. Both became my “WOW” sisters. They were friends, but more like inseparable siblings, going everywhere together. Each was a dynamo in their respective worlds of work and iron strong allies in the Tamiment Democratic Club. It was Gloria Aloise’s father, Ralph DeMarco, who guided and led the club first, then it passed to Gloria D’Amico, then to Gloria Aloise, and now the district leader is her sister Carol. They have launched many political leaders’ careers, all of whom were respected and effective, such as State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, the Vallones, Peter Sr. and Jr., State Senator George Onorato and Assemblymember Mike Butler. Gloria was an expert at getting out the vote and making sure her candidates won.

I remember like it was yesterday a visit I paid to the school with then Borough President Claire Shulman. Gloria proudly invited us to have lunch at the cafe the students created and ran. It was a delight to see the proud faces of the students. They had prepared the food and served it. What great career training.

During challenging budget years Gloria fought for their funding to assure the school’s continuation. And it did survive, bigger and better!

Claire recalls that day “ …the kids prepared our lunch with skill, and the affection [on] Gloria’s face radiated her pride in them. She will be missed!”

A devout Catholic, she adored her two children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and relished her work at Martin de Porres, a school for children with special needs.

Gloria, 81, is survived by her husband of 65 years, Edward; her sons Edward and Michael; her daughter-in-laws, Claudia and Susan; her granddaughters Nicole and Emily; her grandsons-in-law Barry and Patrick; her great grandchildren, Jack and Ella; her sister Carol; nieces, nephews; a large extended family and numerous friends.

Gloria was a dynamic community leader, as well as a dedicated social worker.

Linda DeSebato said of her “WOW” friend, “I can’t help but picture her being greeted by Gloria D’Amico with a big hug and a deck of cards!”

May she rest in peace.

Then, shockingly, I got the news that Ray Benatti, 75, had had a massive heart attack and died instantly. Ray and Georgiana were an inseparable pair whose company I enjoyed for years. There was always a glow on Georgiana’s face whenever she was in his presence. In my mind’s eye is Ray’s smiling face, always the perfect gentleman.

Dear friend Georgiana Reese-Benatti also lost her beloved husband Ray.

As Georgiana is one of my “WOW” friends who serves on several Queens not-for-profit boards on behalf of Queens County Savings Bank, we often went out together both socially and to many fund raising events.

Both Ray and Georgiana were widowed and Ray had retired from Steinway Movers, so he had plenty of time to shower his affection and love on Georgiana. The only consolation I can offer her is that she had what few women ever experience – the good fortune to be adored and loved! He worshipped the ground she walked on! May it bring her some comfort in these coming days. But we both know, there will always be a hole in our hearts for those we adored and loved! May he too rest in peace.

My employee, Barbara Fusco, 70, a Whitestone resident and real estate broker, leaves behind two sons, Christopher and Craig, and granddaughters Julia and Jenna. May she rest in peace.

I did have two cats for many years and when we had to move to an apartment that didn’t allow pets I remember the heart wrenching feeling of saying goodbye to them. For Barry and Debra, their dog Sandy, a purebred Golden Retriever named for the darling dog in “Annie,” was their baby.

“I loved the song ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,’” said Debra. “And he was our sun (son)!”
He was always there welcoming them home and filling their lives with love. May he rest in peace.

Remembrances of Gloria Aloise

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING WAS SENT TO THE COURIER BY THE MARTIN DE PORRES SCHOOL.

When one thinks of the “founders” of Martin de Porres, often forgotten are the many generous and talented woman to whom the school owes much.

Gloria Aloise left her position as principal’s secretary at Mater Christi High School (now St. John’s Prep) to manage the school office doing all the tasks now that our clerical team 7 have taken on. She with Louise would pick up breakfast and lunch daily from a local public school, as MDP was too small to have its own food program. She went on to earn a BA in special education from The College of New Rochelle’s satellite site, School for Human Resources taking night courses at their campus in what was then “Fort Apache” in the Bronx. Gloria with her sister Carol concealed for years to their family that they were not riding out to beautiful New Rochelle three nights a week for classes, but to the South Bronx. She was our original para social services worker, who was on call 24-7. She painted parents apartments, drove kids to emergency rooms, and was our attendance outreach worker. She developed a connection with a local hospital to provide annual hearing, vision and dental screenings for the kids, and saw that where follow up was needed, it got done. She was able to get a surgeon to perform corrective surgery on one of students who suffered from crossed eyes. She would cook dinner for weekly parent nights and then run the seminars. She was our first guidance counselor and worked with 8th graders to get them through the process of high school placement after leaving the school before we had our own high school. She also did follow up on graduates to assure they got started in their new programs. Many kids continued to keep contact with Gloria long after they left school and moved on into adulthood. Danny and Sebastian would come every year at the school’s Thanksgiving celebrations to see Gloria and call her when they ran into difficulties. She made it a point to greet and meet new staff and make sure they had coffee and something to eat before starting the day.

All these tasks were done while she filled the roles of working mother and busy political figure in Queens.
As Queens District Leader she was able to assist the program many times through the red tape of the national, City and local bureaucracies to get funds, services and permits needed to make the school function. She could get abandoned cars moved from the front of the school or get our streets cleared in time for the arriving busses.

Gloria was recognized as Woman of the Year by the Brothers of the Christian Schools’ Familiares for her dedication to the school’s La Sallian mission.

Her sister Carol Scarano joined MDP in 1975 and with Gloria made a powerful team. Carol continues that work today. Her granddaughter, Emily, a master’s special educator continues the legacy of serving the needs of children who get lost and fall between the cracks of the system, as a current teacher in out elementary program.