Mary Jane Culotta, age 100, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2023. She was born on September 16, 1922, one of three children of Joseph and Elizabeth Hendrick of Lima, N.Y.
If you met her, you remembered her. Genuinely interested in people, and in the infinite variety of human character, she could strike up a conversation with anyone, quickly learning their longings and life story. She had the gift of connection and she made and kept friends for a lifetime. Her greatest love was for her husband of 66 years, Joseph Culotta, around whom her world turned, and for her family.
In Lima she was a spelling champion and was crowned Apple Blossom Queen at age 16. She was valedictorian in her class at Lima High. At Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., she majored in business and made life-long friends in the class of 1943; they met for cheery reunions for 6 decades and corresponded until the end of their lives.
Her fond memories of 15 years working as an executive secretary at Eastman Kodak Company lasted a lifetime. Deeply rooted in the green hills of New York's Finger Lakes region, she was nevertheless up for adventure: During World War II, she went to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to work on the Manhattan Project.
She met the love of her life at a "Gavel Club" meeting where she spoke on Victorian dress. They married on October 13, 1956, living in Rochester with a summer home on her beloved Conesus Lake. There they spent many evenings admiring the "million-dollar sunsets" and entertaining family and friends at epic parties that no one left early. For many decades she was a devoted member and volunteer at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Rochester and at St. Matthew Church in Livonia, N.Y. She lit up every room with her smile and her style, wearing chic dresses to work and social events and pink twinsets at home.
She advised her family to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and she practiced what she preached, acting and speaking with kindness every day. She is survived by her beloved husband, Joseph; children, Michael (Cally Arthur) of Ithaca, N.Y., Mary Beth (Mike)Waickman of Akron, OH, and Elizabeth (Hans Thewissen) of Kent, OH; adored grandchildren, Colleen Waickman (Robert Taylor), Margaret Waickman (Steven Gourley), Micky Waickman, Peter Thewissen, and Isabella Culotta. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews whose visits, cards, and gifts she treasured.
Thank you to many caring staff and friends at the Brookdale Montrose Community and at the JT Rogers Hospice Center.
Visitation will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at St. Hilary Catholic Parish, 2750 W. Market Street, Fairlawn, OH. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at church. Burial at St. Rose Parish Cemetery in Lima, N.Y., will be at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Nazareth College Development Office, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618