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Rose Laria dies at 101; child of immigrants embodied American dream

Rose Laria, a daughter of immigrants who survived

Rose Laria, a daughter of immigrants who survived adversity to live the American dream, died June 8, 2015, at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson at age 101. This is a photo from her 100th birthday celebration. Newsday's obituary for Rose Laria

Rose Laria of Coram, a daughter of immigrants who survived adversity to live the American dream, died June 8, at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson. She was 101.

She was one of 12 siblings born to Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, said her son, Joseph Laria of Coram. "She couldn't speak a word of English when she went to first grade," he said.

She reflected often on a life that saw tremendous changes both in the world and in her own circumstances, her son said. She was born before women had the right to vote in this country, yet lived long enough to be energized by the possibility of a female president. She grew up getting ice delivered in the days before home refrigeration and lived through food rationing during the Great Depression and on to a time when such mass deprivation seems unthinkable, Laria said.

Throughout her life, he said, his mother's faith sustained her.

"Her stock in trade that defined her was faith, family and friends," he said. "And because she was Italian, there was the fourth F -- food. She had an unbelievable faith in the Lord."

She took particular comfort from the Prayer of St. Francis, with its message of compassion and optimism, Laria said.

"She went to sleep every night with her rosaries," he said. "She was ready to go, but her faith sustained her."

She worked for a time at First National City Bank and also crocheted hats, Laria said. During World War II, she worked making goggles for soldiers.

She and her husband embodied the success available to immigrants in this country, Laria said. They moved from Brooklyn to Southold in 1958 after their children left high school.

"My mother and father taught me to love America, because they were part of the American dream," Laria said. He recalled going to Memorial Day parades at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn after the war.

But she also taught her children kindness and thoughtfulness -- to think about the effects of their words and actions, he said.

"The things that my mother taught me are priceless," he said. "My mother is my first and best teacher."

Besides her son, she is survived by two daughters, Maria Grzesik of Greenport and Camille Portnoff of Boynton Beach, Florida, five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

She was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram. Contributions in her memory may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice.

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