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Theresa Borella, florist, of St. James, dies at 89

Her relatives say one word - flowers - defined the life of Theresa Borella of St. James.

"She lived for her flowers. Everyone called her 'the flower lady,' " her daughter, Laura Gallagher, said Monday during a break at the family farm stand on Edgewood Avenue in St. James.

Borella, 89, died in her sleep Wednesday.

Born Theresa Scarsella, she opened her own flower shop in Cold Spring Harbor at age 16, her daughter said. She married Joseph Borella in 1954 and moved her floral operation to his family's farm in St. James.

"My mom was a very hard worker. She lived for the business," Gallagher said.

She said her mother never had time for hobbies or things that did not involve the family business. She baked pies for sale and worked at anything that needed doing in the farm stand, Gallagher said. "She worked seven days a week. There was no time for anything other than the time here," she said.

The family has been trying to save the farm and its greenhouse flower business by expanding into wine, Gallagher said. They have obtained the necessary permits from the Town of Smithtown to operate Whisper Vineyard, which would be westernmost winery in Suffolk County, she said, and are pursuing state approval.

In addition to Gallagher, Borella is survived by another daughter, Barbara Perotta, also of St. James, and a brother, David Scarsella of Huntington Station. Her husband, Joseph, died in 2008.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Hawkins & Davis Funeral Home in Smithtown, and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Philip & James Catholic Church in St. James, followed by burial at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Huntington.

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