Rheta Dawn Cozzolino, our beloved mom, grandmother, and great grandmother, passed away peacefully on October 25, 2020 at 94 years-old surrounded by family at home.
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Rheta is survived by her children Nancy Trewhella, Patricia Whigham, Peter Cozzolino and Carol Dole, 13 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. She is predeceased by her husband Salvatore James Cozzolino, her son Roger Cozzolino, and grandson James Trewhella. Along with Sal, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were the most important parts of her life. Rheta’s kitchen was the neighborhood counseling center. Her refrigerator & Italian gravy were legendary.
Rheta was born in New Haven, CT on December 21,1925 to Arthur and Bertha Troostwyk, who were professors of music at Yale University. Her rebellious spirit and strong will developed at a very young age. She played hooky in kindergarten and refused to study music despite strong encouragement from her parents. After graduation from high school, Rheta worked for the telephone company until she became COO of Cozzolino Inc raising her 5 children.
She married her soulmate on April 11, 1947. Sal stole Rheta’s heart from the moment they met on a blind date while he was on leave from the Air Force. Sal was without a doubt her match, and together they had the kind of love people only dream of. They bantered a lot, but never went to bed angry.
Rheta was a master bowler, who played on two teams and was awarded countless bowling trophies. One of her favorite activities was soliciting donations from local merchants for the various fundraisers for The Upper Montclair Women’s Club or St. Vincent’s Auxiliary. She enjoyed the finer things in life, but after growing up in the depression, she never forgot the value of a dollar. While she never bought anything that wasn’t on sale, she never complained when Sal bought her jewelry at full price.
Rheta loved traveling, and was drawn to tropical temperatures. St Maarten became Rheta’s home away from home, where she played slots at the casino and dominated the rest of her family in dominos. Rheta had a great sense of humor, spoke in “Rheta-isms” as her family called them, and was an incredible listener; all qualities that her friends, family and anyone that knew her loved.
Rheta is already deeply missed. We will think of her every time we hear a Frank Sinatra song, and will certainly celebrate her wonderful, full life sometime in the future when it is safe to gather. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in honor of Rheta to The Upper Montclair Women’s Club or St. Vincent’s Auxiliary.