Lighthearted, loving and giving, Amanda Abbate only stood a few inches past 5 feet, but the radiance she emitted could envelop everyone around her.
“She had a charm and everyone had just unbelievable love and affection for her,” her father, Arthur Abbate, said. “I was just crazy about her. I told her every night that she was the love of my life.”
Abbate died May 12 at her family’s Manorville home after a two-year battle with cervical cancer. She was 29.
Abbate grew up in Manorville and was “always a smart cookie,” tutoring neighborhood children for free, said her father, who is Islip Town’s director of labor relations, personnel and public safety. After graduating Eastport-South Manor High School, Abbate attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she majored in quantitative finance and mathematics.
It was during her summers off in college that Abbate first began to pursue her interest in fashion, working part-time on the sales floor of Saks Off Fifth in Riverhead. The company liked her so much, her father said, that they kept her on after she graduated. She went on to work at the corporate level as an operations manager, he said.
“She was smart yet she was humble,” her father said.
Abbate moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, several years ago, her family said, and it was the perfect spot from which she could hop into her beloved New York City. With family and friends, Abbate would explore every inch of the urban landscape, whether it was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, trying a new sushi restaurant in the Village or visiting a SoHo recreation of the coffee shop featured in her favorite sitcom, “Friends.”
“We walked on the High Line, we went to all the major stores like Saks, Bloomingdales,” her mother Benedetta said. “Sometimes kids don’t want their parents around but she always wanted my company. I spent a lot of time having fun with her.”
Despite moving away, Abbate retained close ties to her hometown, returning to visit her favorite beaches, where she would look for driftwood and seashells, longtime friend Danielle Preston said.
Preston, who was friends with Abbate from before elementary school and lived on her block, said from a young age Abbate was full of life and laughter. She recalled afternoons playing kickball, jumping in the backyard pool at her house and, unbeknownst to their parents, riding their bikes past the permitted boundaries of their street. Later, as Preston raised three children of her own, Abbate was a part of their childhoods as well.
“She was just one of those friends who love your kids like they’re her own,” she said. “Thanksgiving shows at school, sports practices — whatever it was, she said, ‘I’ll come!’ ”
Abbate’s battle with cancer did little to diminish her ebullient personality, her father said.
“She always had faith that somehow, someway we’d come through this,” he said. “She was just amazing.”
A funeral Mass was held for Abbate at Church of the Immaculate Conception in Westhampton Beach, and she was cremated. In addition to her parents, Abbate is survived by a sister, Kelly Gambardella of Patchogue, and a brother, Adam Abbate of Arlington, Virginia.