Mary Lucy (Chidiac) Iozzio, RN, BSN, 92, of Haledon (formerly Paterson), NJ, died peacefully Friday, July 29, 2016, at home, after a year of declining health. Her final days were filled with visits from immediate family members and glimpses of the bright sun of heaven's gate in waiting.
Mary was born November 16, 1923, in Paterson, NJ, the second daughter of Naim and Amina (Bastory) Chidiac.
She is survived by her children John and Adrienne (Troy), Frank and Helen (Russell), and Mary Jo; her grandchildren Owen, Corinne, James, Jesse, and Frankie, and Shaun Goellner; her sister Janet; her brothers John and wife Elsbeth, Bernard (Bud) and wife Sheila, and Norman and wife Maria; nieces and nephews: Rosemarie Tandurella and Sandra DiGiacomo; Ronald Norman, John Norman, Diane Hughes, and Deborah Cox; Dennis Iozzio and Joseph Iozzio; Donald Argott, Joann (Argott) Creasy, and Paul Argott; Mary Claire (Loffredo) Hanson, Margaret Mary (Loffredo) Vigorito, Jeanne Marie (Loffredo) Cutrona, Eileen Loffredo, Cathleen (Loffredo) Hinsch, and Donna (Loffredo) Zielinski; Barbara Ann Chidiac, Peter Chidiac, and Gerald Chidiac; Norman Chidiac, Mark Chidiac, Michael Chidiac, and Lisa (Chidiac) Hauser; John Chidiac, James Chidiac, and Amy (Chidiac) Roderick; 45 grand nieces and nephews; 22 great grand nieces and nephews; and many cousins in the Ged, Hayek, Chidiac, Shashaty, and Altonjy families.
Mary was predeceased by her husband Frank (+2005); son Norman, MD (1993); son-in-law Giuseppe D'Amato (2015); daughter-in-law Debra Boyd (1988); her sisters Eleanor (2015) and Pearl (Chidiac) Loffredo (2013); and brothers Anthony (1991) and Sam (1922).
In her own words on note paper found in her service booklet, used when she would visit those who were sick (date unknown, between 2005 and 2008):
Mary was active in her faith at St. Mary Help of Christians, Union Ave, Paterson. She served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister, bringing Holy Communion to many homebound parishioners on First Friday of each month. She was an active member and President of St. Mary's Rosary Society, actively involved in many fundraising events, and she enjoyed the good fortune of finding guest speakers for the Society's Annual Communion Breakfast.
Born to Naim and Amina Chidiac, she was proud of her Syrian heritage. Schooled at St. Agnes Grammar School then on to Central High School, graduating with the Class of 1941. She received her RN degree from St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, Class of February 1946; she had been an active member of the School of Nursing Alumnae Association [since graduating, until her health prevented participation. After graduation], she worked for a while at St. Joe's as a staff nurse. [It was at St. Joe's that she met and] married the only love of her life, Frank [a patient at the time!]. She enjoyed her role in nursing life, spent a period of time as an office nurse with [her cousin] Dr. Archie Ged. From there, she began private duty nursing, caring for young children who were victims of the dreaded polio [virus] and worked part time at Bergen Pines Hospital. [From this early work she moved to Mt. Carmel Hospital for Alcohol Rehabilitation and worked the night shift for many years; she also worked as a visiting nurse for the first home nursing group in the area: Visiting Homemaker Services, with offices in the Paterson YMCA.]
She was [the devoted and] beloved mother to John, Frank, Norman (deceased), and Mary Jo.
[Caring for her children,] she continued as part time mother and nurse. When all [children] were in college she said: "now it's my time!" She matriculated at William Paterson College, while employed at Mt. Carmel and with the visiting nurses, to earn the BSN degree; she received the BSN, WPC Class of 1980. She so enjoyed home nursing that she left her part time jobs for full time and final employment with Visiting Health Services of Passaic Valley and on-call hospice. [She noted,] "this is where nursing really works!"
She retired from VHS to care for Frank, who developed gradual decline from and as she shared the challenges with his Alzheimer's disease. [With Frank and after his death,] she continued to participate in programs offered by the Daughters of Miriam, St. Joseph Hospital Caregivers Group, and the New Jersey Alzheimer's Association Support Group events.
What Mary left out of her remarks could fill volumes.
She was a remarkable sister to each of her siblings: she looked up to Eleanor, and she embodied naïve trust, disciplined work, and compassion to her younger sisters and brothers. Unsurprisingly to many, she was the only one of "the girls" to have the privilege of formal education beyond high school; moreover, she was awarded a full scholarship to St. Joseph's nursing school (we don't know for sure, but, she may have been the first Syrian-American woman to earn the RN). And she became just as naturally part of the Iozzio family into which she married, despite not knowing the language of her Italian mother- and father-in-law: she loved them … into loving her.
She wrote of her love for the Church, yet her humility betrays that devotion. Her faith was of no little importance to the way she lived each day and conducted her affairs. She was captivated by St. Paul and his practical teaching, expressed in Romans 12, on mutual love, service, and tolerance in the community. She would often center herself in peaceful meditative prayer. Gentle and honest, she saw the best in everyone she met; she was flexible to change and noticeably appreciative of little and bigger kindnesses extended her way. Optimistic, she had an unwaveringly positive outlook with assurance that hope's end would be realized. Non-judgmental and respectful, she knew and shared love that triumphs over fear or difference. In addition to Sunday Mass, she was a daily communicant, and participated in retreats and pilgrimages offered through the local and national Confraternity of the Rosary, the Salesian Cooperators, the Sisters at Mary Help of Christians Academy, the Diocese of Paterson, and the Church Catholic on the occasion of Jubilee years. She enjoyed as well the comfort provided by the Holy Mass, recitation of the Rosary, and other devotional prayers and events televised by EWTN, especially on those days when Janet would bring Holy Communion and when Fr. Brando Ibarra, or Fr. Jorge Rodriguez with Deacon Antonio Salierno, would visit to administer the Sacrament of Anointing and Viaticum.
Mary loved to sing (about the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a, she liked to sing-a about the sky of blue-a, or a tea for two-a, she liked to sing!). She had a beautiful strong voice and was a member of St. Mary's choir for the Easter and Christmas holy days, and when she and Frank attended Our Lady of Pompeii Church, their Christmas choir. She also loved classical music and was an avid listener of New York's WQXR. She and Frank, along with their dear friends Hank and Helen Fiorillo, went regularly to Broadway, opera, and the symphony for the extravaganza and evenings with cares only for art and beauty.
Mary enjoyed seeing the world in person, and failing that, there was always a PBS adventure to exotic destinations or National Geographic specials, visits to museums, and books to read. She, Frank, and the children enjoyed an annual drive to Sunny Isles (Miami Beach), FL; a few trips to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME; and another road trip around the States, through the Yukon Territory, to Alaska, and the Pacific Coast, returning to NJ through the Appalachian's Blue Ridge Mountains. As a couple, she and Frank toured the American southwest, visited the Hawaiian Islands, travelled to Europe, and with their dear friends Dr. Stephen and Betty Ferraro, regularly enjoyed La Romana, Dominican Republic. Over the years, she accompanied her adult children on one or another of their holidays.
Never sullen, always joyful, she took delight in the entertainment provided by Turner Classic Movies, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune.
The family wishes to thank especially her cousins and nieces and nephews for your many calls and visits. The family thanks too, her dear sister Rosarians and St. Joseph's Alumnae for their thoughts of, cards and calls to, visits with, and prayers for Mary. We thank as well her private duty home health aides, Leidy Polanco, Wendy Jaramillo, and Darcia James, and the nurses and home health aides of Visiting Health Services of Passaic Valley.
Her children and grandchildren extend their deepest gratitude to Aunt Janet, above all, her steadfast love for and companionship with her sister will remain treasured.
Visiting hours will be 4-8 p.m. on Friday, August 5, 2016 at the funeral home.
All are welcome to the funeral Mass on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary Help of Christians R.C. Church, 410 Union Ave, Paterson, Fr. Andrew T., Perretta presiding.
Interment following at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Totowa.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Mary Iozzio to:
St. Mary Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church, 410 Union Avenue, Paterson, NJ 07502