Joy Izzo had the proverbial gift of gab, a trait she displayed with relish at any place where people gathered, chatting effortlessly with strangers the same way she held her longtime friends’ and family’s rapt attention over the years she spent in Flushing, Smithtown, Hauppauge and Westbury.
The Corona, Queens, native had plenty of time to develop such skill through her bedside interactions as a registered nurse who cared for New Yorkers in the city and Long Island for more than 30 years. To those who knew her, Izzo was a natural conversationalist.
“Joy was truly a people person,” said daughter Jessica Sheahan of Bethpage. “She was social, had many groups of friends and made everyone she met feel like they were special. She would talk to everyone she met, chatting easily with strangers in stores and the other parents at her grandchildren’s school. Several of my friends have told me how much they enjoyed chatting with my mother at school pickup, and at the kids’ sporting events and activities.”
Izzo, who lived at Amber Court of Westbury for the past year and stood out as one of the most gregarious residents — and gifted art students — is one of thousands of New Yorkers to die of coronavirus. She died April 9 at Syosset Hospital.
She was 73.
The former Joy Fazio was raised in Bayside and graduated from Bayside High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and her nursing degree from Flushing Hospital School of Nursing in 1980.
Over three decades, she would work as a registered nurse at New York Hospital of Queens, Parker Jewish Geriatric Institute at Long Island Jewish Hospital and St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. She lived in Flushing for more than 25 years before moving to Smithtown in 2004 and then to Hauppauge in 2012.
Along the way she married twice, in 1970 to Anthony Izzi, a marriage that ended in divorce, and in 1997 to Albert Izzo.
Her only child, Jessica, was born in 1975.
“Many of my childhood friends would tell you she was like a second mother to them growing up,” Sheahan said. “Her brother would tell you the same thing. She was caring, nurturing and loving. She adored her grandchildren and would spend as much time as possible with them, picking them up from school, taking them to sports practices and games and activities.”
She carried that sensibility to Amber Court. She moved into the facility from her Hauppauge home in March 2019, helping fellow residents feel comfortable even as she battled the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Sheahan said.
“The staff at Amber Court would always tell me that she constantly helped the other residents or would go sit with someone who was sitting alone or looked lonely and would try to cheer them up or keep them company,” Sheahan said.
Tom Fazio of Port Washington, Izzo's brother, said "she had time for everyone and never turned her back on someone who needed her time or attention."
Besides her daughter and brother, Izzo is survived by an aunt, Yolanda Caroppoli of Fresh Meadows, Queens; a niece; Kristin Fazio of Huntersville, North Carolina; and two grandchildren.
Sheahan said Izzo’s body will be cremated, followed by a memorial Mass and celebration-of-life party after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
Donations may be made on Izzo’s behalf to the Alzheimer’s Association.