Joanne Ducato, a former Newsday employee from Farmingdale who had a longtime passion to help animals, died Friday at Huntington Hospital after a long struggle with cardiovascular disease. She was 56.
Ducato, a graduate of Bethpage High School and the State University of New York at Oswego, was a “warm, loving, caring person always with a positive attitude despite several hardships in her life including a life-threatening illness,” said her sister, Toni Glenn, of Farmingdale.
Ducato grew up in Bethpage where her father, Anthony Ducato, served as principal and assistant principal of what was then John F. Kennedy Junior High School and is now the district’s middle school.
She went to work for Newsday in 1985, first in the editorial art department, working as a graphic artist, and later as a supervisor in the prepress department, her sister said. She left the paper in 2004 due to her medical condition.
She lived in Plainview before moving to Farmingdale.
She was divorced and had a son, Jack Neushotz of Farmingdale.
“They were very close,” her sister said.
She was a passionate animal advocate who volunteered at Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, Glenn said. She also helped at pet adoption events and had stray cats spayed and neutered.
Her Plainview home was located across the street from a sump with about 30 feral cats, her sister said. Over 10 years, Ducato trapped them, had them neutered and spayed and adopted out to homes.
“She loved animals,” her sister said.
Linda Stuurman, president of the Wantagh-based Last Hope, said Ducato was a longtime volunteer who was “dedicated 100 percent to our cause.”
“She helped with the feral cat program. She adopted one of our dogs. She volunteered her time at our adoption centers,” Stuurman said. “She was an all-around great person and she is going to be really, really missed by all of us.”
Eric Hartmann, of Deer Park, and his wife, Anne, had been friends with Ducato since grade school.
“She was a great organizer,” he said. She “organized vacations, and parties and anything that could be organized. She would go out of her way to organize it and go out of her way to help people.”
In addition to her sister and son, survivors include brother-in-law Sandy Glenn. She was predeceased by her parents, Anthony and RoseMarie Ducato of Bethpage.
A wake will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Arthur F. White Bethpage Funeral Home, 234 Broadway, Bethpage from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage. Contributions in Ducato’s memory may be made to the American Heart Association or Last Hope Animal Rescue, P.O. Box 7025, Wantagh, NY, 11793.