Edith C. Ialeggio ran her own one-person business while raising four children, so when a job called, it was: Everybody in the car, now. We’re going to work with mom.
The kids got into a 1949 Ford custom wagon, light blue, her son Victor G. Ialeggio recalled, and traipsed around Long Island from assignment to assignment as their mother pursued her career as a public relations specialist working for a variety of nonprofit and charitable organizations.
Lunch was always packed. “Cheese sandwiches, always cheese sandwiches as it was a fairly full day,” Ialeggio, of Randolph, Vermont, said after his mother died on March 16 at age 91 of a massive stroke. Long before there was a “take your kid to work day,” for the Ialeggio family in the 1950s, it was “take all of your kids to work, all the time.” It was a remarkable learning experience, he said.
But breaking new ground was fitting for his mother, whose four-decade-long career allowed her to work with dozens of groups around Long Island.
“It’s a classic Feminism 1.0 story — pursuing a full and rewarding career, which took her all over the country (she was often the only woman in the room) while maintaining a household and raising four children,” her son said in an email. “She was one of the women who were shattering the ‘glass ceiling’ before it had a name.”
Born in 1925 in West New York, New Jersey, she later married Victor M. Ialeggio, a Bronx native, and they settled in Plainview in the late 1940s. While her husband taught biological sciences at the City University of New York, she began working in public relations after receiving a journalism degree at New York University.
She started by working with C.A.R.E., the humanitarian organization, the Cerebral Palsy Association and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. That work blossomed into a lifelong career.
Along the way, Edith Ialeggio worked as the public relations director for WLIW/Channel 21 for more than a decade and ran ECI Public Relations for 20 years. She taught several years as an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College and Adelphi University. She served on numerous advisory boards, including the Girl Scouts of America, the Red Cross and the United Way, and was active in numerous church committees and children’s programs.
Every summer, the couple would pack the family into the wagon — “six people in a un-seat-belted Ford,” her son said — and spend a month traveling around in a different state.
“By the time we got to 1966 . . . we had poked into just about every state in the East and Southeast, from Maine to Florida, and west to Tennessee/Kentucky — provisioned with cheese sandwiches and Vienna sausages,” her son said. “They both drove and navigated on these overland adventures. They knew this was important, seeing and meeting other people in other places. They were quite a pair.”
Professionally, Edith Ialeggio helped stage an annual marine trades show in Freeport and computer expositions at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Madison Square Garden. Among her honors, she was named Public Relations Woman of the Year on Long Island in 1976 and was given a lifetime achievement award from the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island.
She often served as master of ceremonies for dinners and similar gatherings for various associations where she deployed her memory and conversation skills. She would canvass the room, getting to know attendees. By the time she took the podium, she was able to able to go around the room mentioning people by name, “identifying them by affiliation and saying what their kids were up to,” her son said.
“She had this great gift and enjoyed meeting people, meeting new people and making connections,” her son said.
Her husband died in 2016.
In addition to her son Victor, she is survived by son James Ialeggio of Shirley, Massachusetts; daughters Patricia Ialeggio of Forestville, California, and Donna Ialeggio Pelletier of Claymont, Delaware; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass will be celebrated at noon on April 29 at Our Lady of Mercy Church on South Oyster Bay Road in Hicksville.