A woman who took enormous pride in her Irish heritage, Eileen Facciarossa took her last breath as the song "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" played on TV during the St. Patrick's Day Parade. She was surrounded by four daughters.
Facciarossa, of Holtsville, died Wednesday of heart and kidney failure at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn. She was 77.
Born Eileen Humphreys on Oct. 7, 1932, in Flushing, Queens, she graduated from Dominican Commercial High School in Jamaica and worked at Sperry's in Manhattan, an aerospace engineering firm. She married Graziano "Ranny" Facciarossa on May 11, 1957.
Known as "Mama Fach" to her children's friends, and later "Nanny" to the neighbor kids at her daughter's house in Holtsville, Facciarossa was happiest when she was cooking for her family, her children said.
"She was a mother to all," said her daughter, Lisa Arbucci. "She took in kids who were kicked out of their house, and neighbor kids all came to our house.
"She should have been a nurse. She was always patching up the neighborhood kids."
A homemaker, Facciarossa loved to cook and knit, and often made her children's clothes, especially costumes for holidays, said her daughters.
After her husband's death in February 2007 and with her own health failing, Facciarossa moved into Arbucci's home. She never rested, though, always helping with housework, said her daughter. At Christmastime in 2007 and 2008, she taught Deborah Allocca's fifth-grade class at Tamarac Elementary School in Holtsville how to knit squares, which were put together and given to the homeless.
Facciarossa, a devout Catholic, was a former sacristan and a member of the Rosary Society at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Islip Terrace. She later served as a eucharistic minister at St. John of God Church in Central Islip. Facciarossa also belonged to the Order of Franciscans, said her daughter.
Besides Arbucci, Facciarossa is survived by children Eileen McNamara from Central Islip, Kevin Facciarossa of Brentwood, Diane Facciarossa of Holbrook, a Newsday employee, Daniel Facciarossa of Orlando, Fla., Jean Kinneary of Central Islip, and Susan Ferdinand of Mount Sinai, as well as 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Visiting is today from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at Thomas P. Walsh Funeral Home, 60 Carleton Ave., Central Islip. A funeral Mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. at St. John of God Church on Carleton Avenue in Central Islip. Burial will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.
Her family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent in Facciarossa's memory to St. Francis Hospital. "They took such good care of her," Diane Facciarossa said. The hospital is at 100 Port Washington Blvd., Roslyn, NY, 11576.