Leonilda Ruggiero passed away quietly Thursday evening December 6, 2018 at her home in Westfield, New Jersey. Her loving family was at her bedside to ease her transition as she took her last breaths. She was born in a small town, Ruvo del Monte, in Southern Italy on January 22, 1926 to Michele Galassi and Carmela Casino.
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At the age of 33 with three children in tow, she reluctantly departed from her mother, sister and culture. She came to the United States by boat to join her husband who was also an Italian immigrant and had secured legal residency as a furniture maker in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1957. She gave birth to one daughter in Michigan and in 1965 she moved with her family to Brooklyn, New York where a fifth child was born. Leonilda lived in Brooklyn until 2014 when her husband of 68 years died at the age of 100. As her health deteriorated she moved to Westfield, New Jersey and lived out her final years with her youngest daughter.
She was a homemaker and raised five children and took on several side jobs as an elderly caregiver in a nursing home in Brooklyn. She loved to be around people and learned English well enough to be an interpreter when she was in her 60’s. An adoring grandmother, she cherished spending time with her grandkids and relished amusing them with her sparkle and wit. She will be remembered not only for her compassionate, loving nature but also for her homemade soups, pasta, pizza, fried dough, her love of rich patterns and detailed, fabric and clothing, and her great fondness for colorful butterflies.
Although her illness took her away from her family she will always remain in their hearts. Leonilda is survived by her five children, Lucy (Richard), Nick (Zabel), Michelle (Mario), Madeline, and Camille (Will), ten grandchildren, Nicole, David, Skyler, Dawn, Michelle, Mario Jr (Lauren), Leanna, Christian, Heather and Erica and six great grandchildren, Sophia, Michael, Dante, Shayna, Mario III, and Lorenzo.
A Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11am Monday, December 10th at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Westfield. Burial will follow in Fairview Cemetery.