Carmella Mildred "Millie" Smith (nee Ruggiero), passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, in Cumming, Georgia. She was 94 years old.
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Visitation will be Sunday February 23rd from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Caggiano Memorial Home, 62 Grove St., Montclair, New Jersey. A mass will be celebrated on Monday, February 24 at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, 30 N. Fullerton Ave., Montclair, New Jersey, with a burial to follow at Mt. Hebron Cemetery, 851 Valley Rd., Montclair, New Jersey.
Carmella was born September 5, 1925, in Montclair, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants Carmela and Carmen Ruggiero and was the youngest of 10 children. She developed a love of music early in life, harmonizing with her two sisters while her seven brothers played instruments. Those rhythms compelled Carmella towards her life-long love of dancing. She performed with the renowned Lippel School of Dance in Newark, New Jersey from age 4 through 19, opening shows at the Paramount Theater and dancing for the USO during the 1940s. She proudly recalled dancing on a larger-than-life-sized drum to “Strike Up the Band.”
Carmella met her husband, Stanley, on the merry-go-round on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and they married in 1947. They raised their 5 daughters in Pequannock and Butler, New Jersey. Carmella taught tap dance and worked as a secretary, including as Executive Secretary at Great American Life Insurance and as Secretary to the Chairman of the Board at Crum and Forster Insurance Company.
She was also known for her sewing skills, masterfully making beautiful clothing and costumes for her children and grandchildren. Carmella loved to travel with Stanley and her daughters and was a devout reader of the daily newspaper.
Carmella and Stanley retired to Florida where, after Stanley’s passing, Carmella joined “The Fabulous Footnotes.” The troupe of senior dancers performed around Florida and competed in New York City winning a gold medal. She later joined other dance groups including Florida Arts & Dance and continued dancing until the age of 84. In 2008 Carmella moved to Georgia to be near her two youngest daughters.
Carmella was predeceased by her husband, Stanley Lee Smith, in 1994. She is survived by her five daughters: Sheila and Mark Duffy of Wall Township, New Jersey; Donna and Gene Evans of Fairhope, Alabama; Deborah and Ed Mulford of Pasadena, Maryland; Margaret and Rick Truitt of Fairhope, Alabama; and Lee Ann and David Barnes of Alpharetta, Georgia. She is also survived by 16 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation at Alzinfo.org.