Jane De Vora celebrated her 95th birthday in May at her...

Jane De Vora celebrated her 95th birthday in May at her home in Baldwin. Credit: Patricia Pizza

With her sewing and cooking skills, Jane De Vora made sure her five children never felt their parents’ financial struggles, making many of their dresses and baking fresh desserts every day for dinner, her family said.

Money issues never stopped the ardent crafter from donating the fruits of her skills to charities or making a prom dress for a neighbor’s daughter, those who knew her said.

“She always was, on a very limited budget, just very giving and would use whatever she could to help other people out,” said her daughter Patti Pizza of North Bellmore. “That’s something that she has definitely passed on to us. At Christmastime every year, instead of buying presents for each other, we all chip in and donate to a local charity.”

De Vora died Nov. 2 at home in Baldwin, where she and her husband, Ray, raised five children who arrived within seven years. She was 95.

Although De Vora never dwelled on her childhood struggles, they shaped the core of who she was, someone who valued family, never complained and felt rich without money, family and friends said. She grew up in Woodhaven, Queens during the Great Depression, a time of hunger and rations. She was one of four children, until a younger brother died in an accident when he was about 5 years old.

While working for Bell Telephone, she met Ray De Vora, a funeral director, and they settled in Baldwin more than 60 years ago. She quit work when the children came and was later hired by a Baldwin fabric store. 

Jane and Ray saw their reflections in each other, a spirit of generosity and kindness, those who knew them said, and when he died suddenly in a home accident in 1992, De Vora lived on her own for the rest of her life, tending to his vegetable garden, which had helped sustain the family for decades.

She sewed her husband’s ties to make pillowcases for each of their children.

“She only spoke in the beginning about finding her new normal,” said neighbor Susan Sers, who moved to Baldwin shortly after Ray De Vora’s death. “She never spoke about the difficulties.”

On Sers’ first weekend in her new home, she spotted De Vora painting her garage and teased her. “She said she has to do what she has to do.”

De Vora had embraced her era, when girls were raised to be wives and mothers, family and friends said. She was expert at buying items on sale, such as apples, and turning them into desserts and canned food. She gave each family member one of her quilts and crocheted or knitted blankets for each new arrival.

“She was always upbeat, always had a nice word to say about someone,” said Barbara VonDerahe, a friend and neighbor.

De Vora was a member of the Baldwin Homemakers for about 45 years, a crafters club where members taught each other their skills. They made items for charity fundraisers and a quilt for the Baldwin Bicentennial Parade in 1976. 

During holiday gatherings, the matriarch was the one to reach out on FaceTime and Facebook to family members living out of state or unable to attend.

“She was the glue to our family,” Pizza said.

In addition to her daughter, Patti Pizza, De Vora is survived by daughters, Kathleen Hinkaty of Lloyd Harbor, Maureen Lawrence of Kings Park and Debra Ann Pucci of Kings Park; son, Michael De Vora of Rockville Centre; and 13 grandchildren.

A Mass was celebrated Nov. 6 at St. Christopher Roman Catholic Church in Baldwin, followed by burial at Calverton National Cemetery alongside her husband. Donations may be made to Hagedorn Little Village School in Seaford or the Helping Hands Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.

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