Louise Grasso Pluchinotta, whose name graces a media center at a North Babylon school and whose joyful approach to life won her countless friends, has died.
She died Nov. 15 after treatment for a blood clot at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. She was 85.
"If you met my mom one time, you would never forget it," her son, Carl Pluchinotta of Bay Shore, said. "She won the 'most cheerful' [award] in school when she was a kid; she was that way all her life."
Pluchinotta was born in Omaha on Nov. 24, 1928, but her family soon returned to Italy to escape the intense cold. Disliking fascism, her father quickly relocated them to Brooklyn.
The high school graduate was a secretary on Wall Street for 12 years. She married Joseph Pluchinotta, a Korean War veteran, in June 1956. They moved to North Babylon in 1962, where she made many friends.
"When I was a kid growing up, sometimes you get into mischief," her son said. But his mother's name got him off the hook.
" 'You're Louise's boy?' " Carl recalled being asked. "And all of a sudden, everything would be OK, and you started to realize, your mother is pretty impressive, she knows a lot of people."
After her three children were older, she became a paraprofessional at the North Babylon School District, where she remained 25 years until retiring to care for her grandson Joseph.
"She was great with kids, that was kind of her calling card," Carl Pluchinotta said.
She was among those put in charge of Weeks Road Elementary School's reading and writing tutoring center. Later North Babylon High School established the Louise Pluchinotta Media Center.
Pluchinotta, a parishioner at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Deer Park, often went to Mass at St. Patrick Church in Bay Shore, where her grandson is an altar boy. "My mom got a great kick out of that. When he was young she would teach him the rosary -- you could see she was so proud," her son said.
Widowed in 1992, Pluchinotta is also survived by twin daughters Karen Pluchinotta of North Babylon and Janet Baroni of Sayville; and a sister, Josephine Calvaruso of Union, New Jersey.
A funeral Mass was celebrated on Nov. 20. She was buried at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Pinelawn.