Wyckoff – August 6, 1937 – February 27, 2021
Gaetana Senatore, nee DiGiacomo, formerly of Totowa, has passed away at the age of 83.
Gaetana, also known as Gail, was born in Castel San Giorgio, Italy, on August 6, 1937, to Filomena and Gennaro DiGiacomo. At a young age, she studied to be a seamstress and was well regarded for her ability to design and hand sew custom dresses. She immigrated to America when she was 18 and often recounted her harrowing transatlantic crossing as well as her joy at finally seeing the Statue of Liberty. In America, she awaited the arrival of her fiancé Damiano, who was known for his stories of their starting married life together with a few pennies, little English, and lots of dreams.
While Damiano built his construction business, Gail was an encouraging cheerleader, a role she would play to family throughout her life. No matter where her husband was working, she would make and deliver Italian hero sandwiches to him and, in later years, to all his workers as well. She found great joy in nurturing her family and preparing elaborate meals. She had an open heart and was welcoming and generous to anyone who entered her Totowa home. No one was a stranger for long. Local legend has it that you could walk into her kitchen unannounced and always find a "parmigiana" being assembled for you or waiting on the island.
Gail and her husband were actively involved in the lives of their children, regularly attending high school sporting events and hosting parties that are still recounted by many baby boomers today. In her later years, Gail worked at Fortunoff Wayne in the silverware department. Stylishly dressed and coiffed, a nod to her designer days, she sometimes ran into those same familiar Passaic Valley party-goers and was delighted to reminisce with them. She had a great memory for names and numbers and had a hearty laugh. She was kind and down-to-earth, making friends easily wherever she went. She was an avid football fan, an ardent bingo player, and an expert finder of conch shells on the beach. She was also an enthusiastic participant at her grandchildren's extracurricular events.
Gail endured great heartache with the loss of her husband and youngest son Jerry within seven months of each other. When Jerry was named an FBI Service Martyr for his sacrifice to country, then Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe knelt at her side to comfort Gail and speak words of praise for Jerry. At the conclusion of a memorial service, she suggested she make Mr. McCabe a lasagna, Jerry's favorite meal. It was a characteristic offer. Even as her health failed, she talked of needing to go food shopping to prepare dinner for family and friends. She had an indomitable will and frequently defied her doctors' predictions.
Gail is survived by her daughter Vinnie of Wyckoff; son Anthony and daughter-in-law Jocelyn of Sparta; daughter-in-law Michele Senatore of Charlotte, NC; sister Connie Pontone and brother-in-law Ralph of Totowa; sister Nobila Fiordeliso and brother-in-law Gino of Rochester, NY; sister-in-law Beverly DiGiacomo; grandchildren Kristen and Michelle Pratt; Kaytlin, Rachel, Ryan, Rebecca and Kasey Senatore; Samantha, Lindsey, and Michael Senatore; and many nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her brother Guy DiGiacomo of Totowa, her husband Damiano Senatore, and son Jerry Senatore.
There is so much we all owe her. Her influence on our lives cannot be weighed or measured or even expressed in these lines. But we know for sure that her loving spirit is a part of us and that we carry her in all we do. We find comfort imagining her with family members who have gone before her. Somewhere she is vibrant and relentless, making tomato sauce and laughing wholeheartedly. And somewhere she is rooting on the Giants--and all of us.
A graveside service will take place on Tuesday, March 2, at Calvary Mausoleum.