ALBANY – Catherine (Caterina “Lina” Carmela Cicero) 92 of Albany, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, November 9, 2023. Our family is comforted by the blessing she received to be in her familiar surroundings at home with her daughters and to know she was deeply loved.
Daughter of the late Salvatore Cicero and Carmela Calamoneri Cicero, she was born on June 7, 1931, in Castroreale, Messina. Catherine was raised in Sicily where she attended the local university and received her teaching degree. She immigrated to Albany in 1960. She had worked as a seamstress, then with the Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, and with Picotte Companies in various cleaning positions. Catherine was preceded in death by her loving husband of 55+ years Joseph (Giuseppe) Rappazzo.
Catherine came to New York through her brother’s insistence. While here she reconnected with her soon to be husband Joe and they decided to get married and apply for citizenship. They enjoyed a long standing and loving relationship with the sisters Maria and Jeanne Arico having rented a flat above them in the heart of downtown Albany on Myrtle Avenue. Catherine and Joe diligently worked long hours and soon purchased their first home together further down Myrtle Avenue. Catherine’s mother Carmela and her twin sisters Maria and Connie both immigrated and also purchased a home on where else Myrtle Avenue. Once the children came and they continued to work and save Catherine and Joe purchased a bigger home off upper Western Avenue/State Campus area in the Eagle Hill neighborhood where they have spent over 30+ years with many fond memories.
Catherine had many hobbies one of her favorites was cooking and baking. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention her delicious homemade tomato sauce often made from Joe’s vegetable garden. She loved to make many homemade meals including her own thick crust pizza and various Italian cookies, cakes, and pastries. Another lifelong passion of Catherine’s was gardening. She surrounded her homes, both inside and outside with a wide array of plants, flowers, and vegetables, including fig trees and concord grape vines. She often times was seen hand watering the gardens outside. She admired the blooms throughout the spring/summer seasons. Although she let Joe take charge in the vegetable garden, she made sure to give him the direction when to weed, water and harvest. She was a nature lover with a huge green thumb.
As a seamstress it came natural to her to always want to have needle and thread in hand or be sitting at her sewing machine making all types of housewares. She also crochet/knit like her mother. Catherine did other activities which gave her great joy such as traveling to NYC with her son to go purse shopping or taking a bus trip with him to a casino. She loved her slot machines and was grateful and looked forward to her monthly casino trips with her sister-in-law Carmela. Catherine was an active walker as many in the neighborhood know she went everywhere on her own. She also enjoyed a 3 mile walk with her daughter Rosanna as well as their weekly movie night and ice cream afterwards.
It is without a doubt, however, Catherine’s greatest happiness came when her one and only granddaughter Gianna arrived in her life. Catherine and Joe both took care of Gianna on almost a daily basis for 5 years and continued to support her during her early childhood life when she started school nearby in the neighborhood. Catherine spent numerous hours either cooking her favorite meals or playing inside and outside, or watching cartoons.
Catherine for those who knew her was an independent person and when she unfortunately suffered a debilitating stroke eleven years ago her life was turned upside down. It took away her independence and that had a negative impact on her life as she was paralyzed and unable to walk. She did however continue to have casino trips and weekend wheelchair walks with Rosanna making sure to hit up all their favorite spots for some espresso, ice cream or other desserts/treats. Everyone knew Catherine, they smiled, waved, and said “hi”!
Joe was a devoted, loving husband and caregiver for over 7 years, in addition, we were blessed to have many kind home health aides over the years caring daily for Catherine. The family would like to acknowledge and thank Dorothy, Marlene, Brittany, Roxanne, Samantha, and Liz. Especially we appreciate with God’s grace of having both Karen and Beth. They were angels from heaven. They both became members of the family and Catherine had established a true connection with them. Karen from the beginning of mom’s post-stroke journey and Beth to help us sustain her comfortable at home during the pandemic/endemic. We are extremely appreciative of all the love, kind words, gifts, gestures and always caring and going above and beyond for Catherine’s well-being.
We also want to make sure to thank a special person and good friend to the family who helped Catherine maintain her beautiful hairstyle for years Ildiko (Ildy). Catherine took great pride in keeping herself in style, she would never leave the house in just sweatpants and sneakers. She was quite the fashionista you would never see her with a bad hair day or without proper makeup, polished nails, jewelry, and matching accessories. Wherever Catherine was going she was wearing a well-coordinated colorful outfit, often one that she altered herself to fit her petite frame. She received many compliments as people would always take notice of her unique style. Catherine in her youth was compared to many famous Italian/Sicilian actress/movie stars.
Catherine is survived by her three children, Frances, Rosanna M., Anthony, and his wife Raeann (Favata). Cherished grandmother to Gianna Isabella Rappazzo, dear sister to (deceased brothers) Frank and Salvatore Cicero, (deceased sister) Rose Ceraolo; twin sisters Maria Furnari, and Concettina Violato, sisters-in-law, Agnes and Angelina Cicero (deceased), Silvana Cicero, Carmela Cashin, Antonietta Zaccardo (Vito), Rose Grugan (Peter), brother-in-law Anthony (Nino) Ceraolo, deceased dear friends (sisters) Jeanne and Maria Arico, dear friends Ascenza and Joseph DeAngelis; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to all the helpful neighbors on Locust Street and Maplewood Avenue as well as the home health aides who became part of the family and experienced all our ups and downs together and have helped both Catherine and Joe over the past decade.
Catherine was a communicant of All Saints Church in Albany. Funeral services will be held in the Hans Funeral Home, 1088 Western Ave., Albany, on Saturday, November 18th at 8:15 a.m., and from there to All Saints Catholic Church, 16 Homestead St., Albany (behind CVS) at 9:00 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited, and may call at the funeral home on Friday, November 17th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Interment will be in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery, Colonie. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. To leave a message of condolence for the family, please visit www.HansFuneralHome.com .