Aurora Vinciguerra, a mother of three who taught in Levittown public schools for more than four decades and raised money to help blind children, died Feb. 14 in her Garden City home.
Her death at age 86 followed a pancreatic cancer diagnosis last year, said one of her sons, Thomas Vinciguerra.
Aurora Vinciguerra’s family described her as an outgoing, upbeat, compassionate woman who shone the most when nurturing others.
“She would make you feel like you were the center of attention,” said her cousin, Joan Steinroeder, 70, of Merrick, who relished their phone chats. “We talked all the time. I don’t know who I’m going to talk to now.”
Vinciguerra taught first-grade students for most of her 42-year career, and many pupils kept in touch over the years and invited her to their graduations and weddings, relatives said.
Born Aurora Locicero to immigrant parents, the first-generation American grew up in South Ozone Park, where her family had a small Italian grocery store, said Thomas Vinciguerra, 52, of Garden City.
“She did radiate goodness and light and I have no idea if she did so at birth, but she certainly lived up to her name,” he said of his mother’s first name, which translated from Latin refers to light or the dawn.
Vinciguerra became the first one in her family to go to college when she attended St. John’s University, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and earning a master’s degree a year later from SUNY New Paltz, family members said.
It was at St. John’s where she met William L. Vinciguerra, who became her husband and also worked for decades in the Levittown school district as a teacher and administrator after serving in World War II.
The couple moved from Queens to Garden City in 1960, had three sons and were married for 59 years before he died in 2011, family members said.
Tradition was important to Vinciguerra. She was the hostess for decades of Thanksgiving dinners — and post-holiday dinners of leftovers — at her family’s Hayes Street home, Steinroeder said.
Vinciguerra was part of a group of women who raised money year after year for Helen Keller Services for the Blind so blind children could go to camp, according to organization spokeswoman Deborah Rodriguez.
“She was the biggest cheerleader,” Rodriguez said.
Vinciguerra, who family said also knitted hundreds of blankets for military service members, was an active member of the Church of St. Anne in Garden City. Her funeral was held there Wednesday before burial at Long Island National Cemetery.
Besides Thomas Vinciguerra, her survivors include sons Raymond, of Manhattan, and William and his wife, Jeanine, of Garden City, and two grandchildren.