SALLY RICOTTONE-KERINS, 67, A FORCE OF LIFE WHO OPENED HER EARS, HEART, & KITCHEN TO ALL
It is with remarkable sadness that the family of Sally Kerins (nee Ricottone) announce her peaceful passing on May 11, 2021 while at the Center for Hope Hospice in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Sally, a beloved wife, mother, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, sister-in-law, and friend, was born on January 16, 1954 in the village of Racalmuto on the island of Sicily. She was raised there by Angela and Gaspare Ricottone and was the third of four children. In 1963, Sally emigrated to the United States with her family and settled in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. Almost immediately, Sally and her family began to add their distinctive flavor to the American experiment. Sally watched and learned from her mother’s hospitality as new people were always invited to share a meal. Sally learned English and began to develop friendships. Quickly, these new friends became a second family that she would maintain for her entire life.
She received her Associates Degree from Kingsborough Community College before enrolling in Brooklyn College –focusing her educational pursuits on social work which underscored her constant desire to help others. While at Brooklyn College, Sally met her husband John which began a nearly 40-year love affair that persisted to her final day. Sally received her Master’s of Social Work from Adelphi University in 1981 and began to work for the Italian Board of Guardians where she eventually became a director of the organization.
In 1984, Sally married John surrounded by friends and family and started their shared life together. Sally opened her own practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and began treating clients from all walks of life – many of whom returned week after week to receive advice from a woman whose non-judgmental demeanor and disarming approach fostered open and productive dialogues. In addition to her private practice, Sally spent years as an Adjunct Professor & Counselor at the Opening Doors Learning Community at Kingsborough Community College where she proudly supported and influenced a new generation of students.
Sally’s dedication to her clients and students was matched only by the dedication she showed to her growing family with Edward (born in 1987) and Angela (born in 1990). Sally worked tirelessly to create a loving, secure home and raised her children with grace and unending patience. In 1995, Sally and John moved the family to Westfield, NJ where she became extremely involved in local organizations including the Happy Bookers Book club and the Rake and Hoe Garden Club.
Sally and John used Westfield as a springboard to the world; they took river cruises in Europe, long weekends in New Hampshire, and cross-country road trips to the great National Parks of the American West – each more fantastic than the last. No monument was too insignificant to look at, nor was a pit stop too far – Sally’s insatiable curiosity and appreciation for natural beauty led her to see and experience the world in a way few do.
Wherever she went, Sally always maintained her relationships – both friends and family. In truth, wherever she went, Sally developed new relationships as well. Sally brought together groups of people who had never spoken before and by the end of the evening everyone would be well-fed, laughing, and thanking her for the invitation. Her home was always filled with music, wonderful aromas from the kitchen, and unyielding love and support. Sally’s love was, and will forever be, bottomless.
Despite a decades long battle with cancer, Sally refused to let her illness define her. She met each day with a smile. She seized every moment. She inspired others to do the same. In her far too brief time on Earth, Sally’s impact is too expansive to adequately describe.
Sally is survived by her husband John, her son Edward Kerins and his wife, Margaret McLaughlin, daughter Angela Kerins, her brothers Charles Ricottone and Joey Ricottone, sister Lucy DiLeo and numerous nieces and nephews.
If ever you are sad about her passing or feel overwhelmed – simply remember her best and most often dispensed advice – “BREATHE.”
The viewing services will be held on Monday, May 17 from 3pm – 9pm at Higgins & Bonner funeral home in Westfield, NJ. The funeral services will be held on Tuesday, May 18 at 10:00 am at The Parish Community of Saint Helen in Westfield, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Center for Hope Hospice, Scotch Plains, NJ cfhh.org/donate.html or to the Millie and Maurice Singer Scholarship Award at Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY. https://21409.thankyou4caring.org/online
To send flowers to Sally's family, please visit our floral store.