Rosalino and Theresa Catalano overcame more than their share of tragedy in life.
Rosalino lost his brother, Angelo, during World War II when Angelo's ship, the SS Léopoldville, was hit by a German torpedo on Christmas Eve, 1944. Many years later, the couple would lose two grandsons in separate accidents, both at the age of 21.
“They went through hell together,’’ said their daughter, Josephine Mackey of Bethpage. “But they had each other through everything.’’
The Catalanos were married for nearly 72 years before they died just two days apart last month.
Rosalino Catalano, known as "Roe," died at his daughter’s home on April 24. He was 94. Theresa Catalano died April 26 at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage due to complications from the coronavirus, her family said. She was 91.
“They couldn’t live without each other,’’ Mackey said.
Roe Catalano was born on Nov. 30, 1925, in Brooklyn's East New York, and Theresa “Terry” De Nicola was born on July 13, 1928, in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. They were introduced by a mutual friend in 1945, when Roe Catalano, who was serving in the European theater in World War II and who had fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was home on a 30-day furlough.
“He was supposed to go back, and the war ended,’’ their daughter said.
Mackey said her mother was seeing someone else at the time she was introduced to Roe Catalano, and it was Roe she married on June 8, 1947. The couple lived in Brooklyn before moving to Plainview in 1960. Terry Catalano worked in a factory and her husband worked at a company that made awnings. Later, Roe Catalano would start his own awning business, Abble Awning Co. in Bethpage, in 1970. The family-owned company is still in business today.
Roe and Terry Catalano were very involved with their parish, Our Lady of Mercy, in Hicksville. Roe was active in the Knights of Columbus, Terry was active in the Joseph Lamb Columbiettes and the Angels of Mercy. Roe Catalano was an avid bowler who kept at the sport until he was 91.
“They had a better social life than I did,’’ said their granddaughter, Jeanette Collette of Bethpage. “I was their Uber driver," she quipped of the popular ride-hailing service.
Collette said her grandmother “was wonderful, loving unconditionally. She had this philosophy that you don’t give to your children equally, but you give more to the ones who need more.’’
Her grandfather, she said, would remind them that “whatever you do, you represent the family. You always had to be your best.’’
In addition to Josephine Mackey and her husband, Mike, the Catalanos are survived by sons Tommy and his wife, Vivian, of Centereach; and John and his fiancee Lori of Amityville; five grandchildren, including Collette; and eight great grandchildren. They were predeceased by their grandsons, Michael Goldbach and Thomas Catalano Jr.
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