Raising two daughters as a single parent, Dorothy DeMasi Torres had so little money that a special treat for the young girls was a Popsicle split in two, one of her daughters recalled.
And “summer camp” for the two daughters was a fire hydrant in the street in Corona, Queens, that a neighbor opened with a wrench, said the daughter, Darlene Kurtin, of Massapequa Park.
Despite the hardships, DeMasi Torres went on to raise her daughters and enjoy a successful career, first as a proofreader for Reuben H. Donnelly, the producer of the yellow pages telephone directory, and then as a consumer representative for Con Edison.
DeMasi Torres, of Massapequa Park, died April 20 in a rehabilitation center in Syosset of coronavirus, her daughter said. She was 91.
In recent years, Kurtin said her mother “soldiered on” although she was in constant pain with back problems, wore a pacemaker and had hip and a knee replacements.
Though DeMasi Torres was left in her early 20s to raise the then 2-year-old Kurtin, and her 4-year-old sister, Angela, her mother “made me feel like I had everything I ever needed,” Kurtin said.
“We were poor, but there was always food on the table,” Kurtin said, noting that her mother never missed a rent payment.
While raising her children, DeMasi Torres had the support of her mother, Angela, and two of her mother’s sisters, Ann, of Elmhurst, and Catherine, of Whitestone, Kurtin said.
DeMasi Torres was born on the Lower East Side to Italian immigrants. She attended Central Needle Point Trades High School in Manhattan, Kurtin said. The public school is now named the High School of Fashion Industries.
Eventually, the family moved from Corona to Whitestone, and then DeMasi Torres went to live on Long Island, Kurtin said.
After retiring from Con Ed in her 60s, DeMasi Torres moved in with Kurtin to Massapequa Park, where she lived the life of a doting grandmother, taking her grandchildren to Disney World in Florida.
DeMasi Torres was always available at the Massapequa Park home to comfort her grandchildren, who would at times “run upstairs, saying, ‘Mommy was mad at me,' ” Kurtin recalled.
And every Sunday, her mother would cook “meatballs and gravy” for the family, her daughter said.
DeMasi Torres also was an active member of what was called “The Brady Bunch,” the members of the senior citizen center at Brady Park in Massapequa Park. “The Brady Bunch” met three times a week for bingo and a luncheon, and there was also a book club her mother was fond of attending, Kurtin said.
Throughout, her mother took pride in perfect grooming, getting her hair done every week and nails every two weeks, Kurtin said.
In addition to Kurtin, DeMasi Torres is survived by son-in-law Vedran Kurtin; daughter Angela Krevey, of New York City; four grandchildren, Danielle, Arianna, Kyle and Kira; and one great-grandchild, Luka.
DeMasi Torres was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale after a brief graveside service. When the coronavirus crisis passes, Darlene Kurtin said the family plans to offer DeMasi Torres “the proper funeral Mass she truly deserved.”