DeGennaro, Patricia M. At CT Hospice, June 25, 2006, Patricia M. Iamele DeGennaro, 61, of Main St., Branford. Daughter of Joseph Iamele of Branford, formerly of Orange and the late Lillian Gentile Iamele, mother of Toni DeGennaro and mother-in-law of David Fetter of Ft. Collins, CO and Julie DeGennaro of Norwalk. Sister of Lillian (Donald) Mei of Stony Creek, Branford and Joan (Edward) Heffernan of Norwich. Also survived by a granddaughter. Patricia was born in New Haven on Oct. 28, 1944. She was a legal secretary at Jacobs & Jacobs Law Firm for 15 years. Funeral leaving BEECHER & BENNETT-TAYLOR Funeral Home, 410 Campbell Ave., at Court St., West Haven on Wednesday, June 28th at 10:15 AM. Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Infant Church, Orange at 11 AM. Relatives and friends may call on Tuesday from 4-8 PM at the funeral home. Memorial Contributions may be made to CT. Hospice, 100 Double Beach Rd., Branford, CT 06405.

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  1. Celebrating Pattie De. . . . Today we are celebrating the life of my dear friend and cousin, Pattie De. I would like to share with you a little bit about Pattie’s childhood — to give you a glimpse into the life of the child that turned out to be this remarkable woman. Pattie and I were close cousins We spent most of our childhood together. We lived next door to each other for the first 13 years of our lives. Pattie was 28 days older than me and, (she decided), that made her 28 days wiser! She was always the adventuresome one. When we were small, Pattie loved to eat the mulberries from the tree in our backyard. She would climb high in the tree while I watched her in awe. She used to describe the view from the top to me. She said she could see Tom’s Meat market, the Jewish Center, and St. John’s church. She was like a little sprite – agile and having fun all the time. Bike riding was one of her favorite pastimes. Pattie could maneuver that thing like a pro – she never bumped into the trees and people and baby carriages that slowed others. I thought she was so cool! Pattie also really loved to roller skate. She would glide down the street, and . . . . wherever she would lead, I would follow. Wherever we landed, I knew it would be fun if I was with Pattie. She especially loved to skate from our homes on Davenport Avenue toward Baldwin Street. On summer mornings, as we approached the third house on that block . . . we would smell the wonderful aroma that filled the morning air. That aroma came from the garage of a baker by the name of Sam Lender. Pattie would skate down the Lender’s driveway and would call out, Good Morning!’ in her friendly way . . . hoping that Sam would hear her and see us and offer us a steaming hot, delicious bagel. And he usually did! Who could ever resist Pattie’s smile and charm? While most of my memories of Pattie as a child revolve around FUN, there was also more than a bit of tension between us. When we were in our 30’s, Pattie and I shared a lot of stories about our youth. It wasn’t until then that we understood each other and appreciated each other more fully. During one of our heart to heart chats, I confessed to Pattie how jealous I had been of her when we were kids. She seemed surprised as I described her talents that I was so envious of. . . her ability to make friends so easily . . . how she seemed to have fun no matter what she was doing . . . how she made people feel so special. When we were kids . . . as far as I was concerned. . . Pattie was the epitome of what it meant to be cool.’ A very special memory from our childhood was,. . . THE FENCE. You’re probably saying to yourself . . . did she say Fence?’ Yes. I did. This fence was a towering 6 or 7-foot high, dark brown, wooden picket fence that ran along one side of our backyard, separating our yard from our neighbor’s. It loomed awfully high to two little girls about 4 feet tall. I remember thinking that I would have given anything to have the courage to get up there and climb that fence. . . . I looked at it as a confining thing . . . a huge barricade to the outside world. Pattie looked at that fence in a very different way. She saw the fence . . . . . realized it was tall and rickety and maybe a little dangerous . . . recognized it as a challenge . . . and, as with most of the challenges she has faced since that time . . . she confronted it and . . . conquered it and . . . even laughed about it. Pattie, easily scaled that backyard fence. She got up there and walked it like a balance beam – giggling with pleasure all the way! She loved the freedom of being up there seeing beyond our small, world. In my view, Pattie’s attitude toward that fence reflects the attitude with which she approached and lived her life. She may have been afraid of that fence, but fear was never a determining factor for our Pattie De. As we all know, she never backed down from a challenge! If there was a fence to climb, Pattie climbed it . No ifs, ands, or buts. She just climbed it. . . and often laughed along the way. She was a person who loved living each day of her life! ———————————- Along with her enthusiasm for living each day to the fullest, there were a few forces that were very powerful motivators for Pattie – Family, Friendship, and Fun. * Family Pattie’s concept of family extended far beyond her immediate relatives – her mom and dad; her sisters and their families; her precious daughters; and more recently, Dave, Madelena, and the Fetter family. Pattie got endless joy from her daughters, Julie and Toni Lynn. She guided them so well every step of the way . . . as both their mother and their father. She has been so proud of them. And with good reason. There were many others whom Pattie considered extended family.’ -her extended family of cousins and cousin-in-laws -Julie and Toni Lynn’s friends -friends from her high school days -her -work family-. -And a wide-ranging family of friends’ – Her neighbors Her crafting family Her oncology family And there were probably countless other families that I am not aware of. * Friendship Many of us treasured Pattie as our friend, and we know that she valued our friendship dearly. As one of her dear friends, Linda, put it . . . She was the kind of friend everyone wished they had. You felt special that she was your friend. Pattie was loyal and caring . . . . a wonderful listener and a trusted confidant. To be counted as one of Pattie’s friends meant 1.that you always knew there was someone who was looking for the best in you meant that she was there when you needed her . . . .no matter what 3.To be counted as one of Pattie’s friends meant that whatever you shared with her would remain confidential. It would stay forever on her side of the fence. 4.And it meant that you could depend on her offering you her advice – – – – usually over a glass or two of red wine – and . . . . often whether you wanted it or not! Whatever your relationship was with Pattie. . . as a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, colleague, friend . . . you knew, through and through, that she cared for you and wanted the best for you. FUN was also very important to Pattie. So, just for a moment, let’s let our minds wander to some of the ways that Pattie had fun . . . ! Maybe you shared some of these experiences with her . . . oGambling at Mohegan Sun oSavoring good food at a favorite restaurant oSinging Karaoke-style oMaking and selling and giving away her beautiful jewelry oEnjoying Red, Red wine oShopping on QVC / Home Shopping Network oDancing until the wee hours of the morning oEnjoying family and friends in Connecticut . . . St. Thomas. . . Florida . . . . Las Vegas . . . Rhode Island oGetting together for an occasion . . and if there wasn’t an occasion,’ Pattie would gladly make one up!. Pattie was the LIFE of almost every party she ever threw or attended. She was really all about enjoying life and making sure everyone else did. These last 18 months have been an emotional roller coaster and a spiritual journey for Pattie, Julie and Toni Lynn, Uncle Joe, and all those who love her. When she was first given her diagnosis of Cancer. . . . She seemed to take it without fear . . . She seemed to consider it a new opportunity . . . and a new challenge . . . Another backyard fence to climb. Pattie drew on a deep spiritual strength during this time. She kept seeking out and meeting new friends She reconnected with old ones . . And She taught us . . . through her example . . . about generosity of spirit . . . . patience . . . . positive thinking . . . . . gratitude . . . . and about forgiveness. During this last year and a half, Pattie experienced some important milestones and she was thrilled to be here with her family during these times . . . -Toni Lynn and Dave’s wedding -The birth of her granddaughter, Madelena -Julie’s purchase of her new home Today we celebrate Pattie’s life. She really LIVED all the days of her life on earth. Pattie brought out the best in many of us. I know that I am very grateful for that talent of hers. I hope that she finally came to understand how important she has been to the people in her life. Pattie has climbed her final fence. During these last few weeks, she skirted both sides of that fence and reported back to those of us fortunate enough to be at her bedside. It was an amazing, beautiful, spiritual journey. . . And now, she is on the other side. Thank you Dear Lord, for bringing Pattie into our lives. It was such fun! She is with God and Aunt Lil and Grandma and Pop and Elaine . . . and with many others who have loved her very much. She will be in our hearts forever. We will miss her terribly. Yet, we know that God and the heavens are joyous about her arrival! We can only hope that they are ready for Pattie’s Party!

  2. Dear Toni and Julie, I remember all those days spending time with you and your family, birthdays and picnics, when you two were little girls…what fun we all had. Your mom was such a wonderful friend…always ready with that wonderful laugh of hers. I learned so much about bargain shopping from her! She was one of the best. Even tho I didn’t see her as often these past years she was never far from my thoughts. She will be greatly missed. I will always think of her with love and admiration for all her accomplishments. Love Linda and Ed

  3. Dear Toni and Julie, I was so saddened to hear about your mother. I have so many memories of her when we were kids. She was always so kind and always made me laugh, and she always could be heard in the bleachers cheering you,Julie, and me on at our softball games. I will remember her best for being there for my mother when my sister died and taking me to Rhode Island several times when I lost my sister. She was one of a kind and I have so many vivid memories of all of us together as kids. I am so sorry for your loss. I have always held a place in my heart for both you and Julie. We grew up together and even though time has come in between us, I have never forgotten how wonderful and special my friendship was with you Toni. We used to be inseperable and we used to drive your sister crazy. We had so many great times together. I practically lived at your house in Stoney Creek and your mother used to take us everywhere, from shopping to Hammonasset Beach to Rhode Island. I again can’t convey enough how sorry I am for your loss, but I want you to know that I’m there if you ever need to talk. She was a remarkable woman that certainly left an everlasting impression on both my mother and myself. God bless you and Julie and just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Love, your old friend, Audra (Coart) Riccitelli, and Linda and Joe Morgan (my parents)

  4. Dear Toni and Julie, Words cannot express my deepest sympathy on the loss of your Mom. I was heart broken to hear from Deb about her illness. I will cherish my fond memories and all the good times we had together. I have a crystal friendship ball that she gave me for my birthday. She told me to always cherish our friendship. I would like to share a poem with you that my daughter wrote for her step Dad when he lost his Mom a couple of months ago ~ ~ .When tomorrow starts without me my love will wipe your tears, Visit me in your memories collected through the years, My love lives within you, that can never be taken away, Just close your eyes and think of me so I am with you everyday, When tomorrow starts without me I will calm your pain with my love, I will always still protect you as I watch you from above, Be strong my little ones, you are all I have raised you to be, I am very proud of both of you, I leave behind a piece of me, When tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we are far apart, Today, tomorrow and always I am right here in your heart.. Fondly, Rusti

  5. I saw Pat in the CVS in town about three years ago (before Elaine Bergantino died) and she mentioned that she and Elaine got together once and a while. So I suggested a threesome and was looking forward to reconnecting with two old school mates. Then Elaine tragically lost her life and not long after I had heard that Pat had cancer. Being a cancer survivor myself I was hoping that Pat would beat the odds. I am truely sorry now that our paths did not meet again and we didn’t get the chance to connect our lives. I will think of her often and miss her. The nice thing about being old school mates is that you remember that person when they were young and had their whole life ahead of them. My condolences to her family. She was a very special person. I will be more than happy to make a donation to Hospice in her name.

  6. My Mom. It is hard to stand up here and give this eulogy. Not because I am sad, which I am, but because it will be nearly impossible for me to give my mom’s life justice standing before you for only the next few minutes. Many of you remember my mom as warm and funny and caring and as a woman who loved to dance and to drink and to party. I remember that woman, too, and I love that woman. I am perplexed as to how I am that woman’s child, but I love that woman. I have story after story of funny anecdotes of my mom from the time I am able to remember as a child, to the week before her death when she was planning her own after funeral party with a Cinco de Mayo theme. But, today, that is not the part of my mom that I want to honor. I want to honor the other part of my mom, so please bear with me. Howard Cosell once said: Courage takes many forms. There is physical courage, there is moral courage-then there is still a higher type of courage-the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and to still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead. When I read this, I immediately thought of my mom in the last two years of her life, but upon thinking about it for longer I realized she lived those last two years the same as she lived all of her years: with undeniable courage. You see life was not easy for my mom. No one would have blamed her for giving up. Rather than give up, though, she dug her heels in and fought for Toni and I to have everything we needed to grow up happy and successful. She taught us that we had just as much opportunity as everyone else. She taught us to always speak our minds. So, Toni and I apologize to all our friends, family members and colleagues-it is our mom’s fault that we don’t just smile and nod when you ask us to do something. My first memory of my mom’s courage to speak her mind was when I was in 3rd grade. We had gone over to her boss’s very fancy house in Guilford and Toni and I were both in awe of the many trappings of success. After we had been there for a while, my mom’s boss asked me if when I grew up I was going to be as good of a secretary as my mom was—I did not have the chance to answer, as my mom jumped in and said -Julie will never be anyone’s secretary, she is too smart for that. She will not be your secretary, she will be a lawyer-. She then lectured Toni and I on our (thankfully short) ride home about the fact that she was going to see to it that we were never anyone’s secretary. My next memory of my mom was more than embarrassing at the time but looking back now, she was a woman who didn’t take anything from anyone. My sister was on a swim team. I’m not here to embarrass Toni, but overall she was a terrible swimmer. We would be cheering for her long after all the other kids were out of the pool. In fact, most of the other kids were done with their showers and we were still cheering. But Toni gave it her all. She showed up for every practice and she participated in every meet. The thing is the man who organized the Branford Sting Rays only provided meals for the fastest swimmers. Toni and the other back of the packers had long days, just like the top performers, they just were not fed lunch. This appalled my mom and she fought with the league until not only Toni got lunch-to get my mom off his back, the coach quickly agreed to that-but all the kids on the team got lunch as well. My mom got a cross walk painted on our street when we were required to cross a busy road to get to school; she got wind that our racist neighbors believed she was dating a friend of the family who was African American and she added fuel to the already existing fire-entertained that this would make people who were not tolerant uncomfortable; she yelled at a teacher who had accused me of cheating during a parent/teacher meeting. I could go on and on with examples of my mom’s courage, but I’d like to end with two. When my sister and I were in middle school, our parents got divorced. Everyone told my mom she was crazy for leaving my dad, because he was such a great guy. My mom knew better. He seemed like a great guy, but in reality, he was not. The divorce was far from easy on my mom. My dad tapped her phone line. He refused to pay child support. He stole her car and totaled it when she was on vacation. He ruined her credit. He fought for custody of Toni and I. He bought Toni and I anything we wanted. Confused and naive, Toni and I sided with our dad. We even went to a horse show with our dad on Mother’s Day. The emotional pain this caused our mom was evident. But she persevered. Though she was sad and hurt, she never blamed Toni and I. She never stopped loving us. Make no mistake, our dad was fun. Our dad was exciting. And almost five years after our parents divorced, our dad left. Our mom was left to raise my sister and I on her own for almost 20 years. After some initial tears, she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and if I do say so myself, she did a fantastic job. She worked two full time jobs so that we could stay and be educated in Branford. Though it would have been easier, she refused to move my sister and I in with our grandparents, because she thought that wouldn’t be any good for any of us. She sent us both to college. She forgave us for being stupid and mean to her. She loved us enough to make up for the loss of our dad. Courage takes many forms. There is physical courage, there is moral courage-then there is still a higher type of courage-the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and to still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead. My mom knew something was terribly wrong with her before she let either Toni or I know. She did this because as she was realizing she was sick, my sister was preparing for her wedding. My mom knew the celebration would be ruined for all of us were she to reveal her illness. So my brave mom kept her terrifying secret to herself, so we could be happy for Toni. One week and two days after my sister got married, my mom got the official diagnosis that she had small cell lung cancer. I remember the exact moment she told me. I was sitting in my car, in front of my office listening to a song by Howie Day, the chorus of which was -Even the best fall down sometimes-. She was so distraught she could barely speak. I then called Toni and we just cried and cried. All three of us thought she would die. The next month and a half was grueling. I thought almost every day that my mom would die. At times, she was in such excruciating pain that I wanted her to die. It was terrible to see her like that. She did not die. She amazed all of us and lived. Now, here’s where I need to thank my sister and Dave. I remember about a month after Toni called me to tell me they were engaged, she called to tell me that she was pregnant. Being who I am I thought she was a moron. She was so close to being married, couldn’t she have held off just a few more months? But I believe that my sister being pregnant saved my mom’s life. Cancer was not going to deny her what she had waited so long to see: a beautiful granddaughter. Against all odds, against all medical explanation, my mom lived. Not only to witness the birth of her granddaughter, but to also celebrate her first birthday with her. Here is what is even more amazing to me: she not only live, she thrived. Instead of bemoaning her situation, my mom was just so happy to be alive. She complained less about lung cancer than other people complain about going about the tasks of daily living. She never felt sorry for herself. She never wallowed. She would cry a few tears, dust herself off, and get moving. She purchased a whole new wardrobe of -Life is Good- items and really, really believed life was good. And life was good. You see, as bad as lung cancer was it could not take from her what was really important-her relationships with her friends and family. And my mom was the most fortunate person I have ever met in regards to relationships. She has surrounded herself with truly amazing people. There was never a moment in the last two years of her life that my mom had an unmet need-from someone paying her Cobra insurance, to someone picking her up to attend every event that went on that she could not drive to . . . to someone getting her cat shaved to someone having a fundraiser to someone paying her salary long after any of us expected, to everyone chipping in and helping out and supporting her every single day of her life. She knew this and instead of being angry at her situation, she was happy and so very grateful. When she was told she was going into Hospice, when she was told her life was coming to an end, she was thankful and said she got an extra year and a half. I can’t imagine having the courage my mom had. I complain when they are out of my favorite ice cream flavor at the Mini Mart. Finally, let me say this: I know there is concern amongst our family and friends that Toni and I have not fully realized the impact of our mother’s death, and that is why we are not sobbing, blubbering, idiots. Though I am certain that it will take us a long time to recognize the full impact of our loss, we are not hysterical both as a tribute to our mom and because of our mom: she cried and then picked herself up time and again and continued to move on. She did not wallow and always considered herself blessed. We hope to take after her and handle her death in the same way she handled all the obstacles in her life: with a few tears, a lot of humor, tremendous support from family and friends and undeniable courage. Make no mistake, although we recognize everyone is sad today at the loss of such a great person, no one is as sad as Toni and I, for in one death, we lost two people: our mom and our dad. Goodbye, mom. We are so very proud of you. We will miss you dearly. Howie Day was right. Even the best fall down sometimes.

  7. We are very sad to hear about the passing of our cousin Patty. We will cherish the fond memories we have of her, especially her beautiful smile. We send our heartfeld sympathy to her entire family. Love, Joe & Anna Ferretti

  8. with deepest sympathy. Patty was a highschool classmate and a friend. We share the same birthdate. I will always think of her on that special day. She will be missed by all. Victor Carlucci, Jr.

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