Jacqueline Hope Celestino of Smithtown often was approached during shopping trips by parents who asked her, "Do you by any chance work in the delivery room?"
Celestino, who worked at local hospitals for 41 years, then was introduced to the children she had delivered years earlier, said her son, Daniel Ferguson, 49, of Los Angeles.
By her family's estimation, Celestino probably assisted doctors in the delivery of thousands of newborns. And when a doctor wasn't available, she did it herself, her family said.
"By her count, she actually delivered over 500," Ferguson said.
Celestino, known as "Nurse Jackie," died at her home on Oct. 9 from cancer, her son said. She was 73.
She began her career at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore in 1963, shortly after graduating from St. Clare's Hospital School of Nursing in Manhattan. Later she worked at Stony Brook University Hospital before working for 23 years at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Smithtown, which became St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in 2000. Celestino retired in 2004, said her son, a television producer.
Dr. Frank Bonura, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Catherine of Siena, said Celestino founded a bereavement group for parents whose infants had died. He recalled she gave parents a clamshell with a lock of their baby's hair and a picture of the lost child.
"She would sit with the family. She would go to the family's home," Bonura said. "She did not get paid for that. She did that on her own."
Celestino was born Jacqueline Harris in the Bronx on Aug. 8, 1942. She married her first husband, Daniel Ferguson, on May 18, 1963. They divorced in 1977. She married Henry Celestino on Nov. 18, 1977. He died on Feb. 14, 2011.
Celestino was a eucharistic minister at Holy Cross parish in Nesconset, of which she was a member, often serving communion to homebound parishioners, her son said.
"She truly was generous in love to her colleagues, her extended family, her children's friends," Ferguson said.
In addition to her son, Celestino is survived by two daughters, Denise Ferguson and Karen Corsini, both of Ronkonkoma; stepchildren, Frank Celestino of North Palm Beach, Florida, Louise Scopelitis of Jupiter, Florida, and Henry Celestino of Kings Park; and 12 grandchildren. One grandchild predeceased her.
Services were held on Tuesday at Holy Cross Church in Nesconset. Burial was Tuesday at St Patrick's Cemetery in Smithtown.