Irene Adele Faggiani, 94, of Irasburg, died peacefully at her home on June 22, 2021 surrounded by her family, friends and angels.
She was born on March 13, 1927 to the late Joseph and Harriet (Orzechowski) Rzonca in Brooklyn, NY. Irene spent her early years in Brooklyn and she was a true city girl at heart. In her adolescence, the family moved to Laurelton, Queens where she finished her secondary education at Andrew Jackson High School. Irene attended Queens College, Flushing NY and graduated in 1948 with her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She further advanced her education & completed additional accreditation at the Fordham School of Social Work and New York School of Social Work.
Irene’s first job as a social worker was for the Catholic Home Bureau, New York City, helping young children and families. Children were always the center of her life and she had a true gift relating to people of all ages with her compassionate heart and kind spirit.
Irene worked briefly in advertising in NYC before finding her dream job at Doubleday Publishing. Her world always included reading, writing, words and books. She was modest in her intellect but was always engaging in conversation about a great book to read and current events. She read the Sunday New York Times and novels until the time of her death.
While working in NYC, Irene met the love of her life, Les Faggiani, and they were married on April 10, 1955. After honeymooning in Nova Scotia, they moved to Long Island where Les began his teaching career at Bay Shore High School. They bought a home on Seaman Avenue, Bayport, NY and remained there until 1995. It was in Bayport that they spent some of their happiest years together, raising a family and spending summers in Derby, VT at their cottage at Cousen’s Beach, Lake Memphremagog.
Irene received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from New Paltz State Teacher’s College, New Paltz NY in 1961 and taught 4th and 5th grades for the Bay Shore Union Free School District #1, Bay Shore NY from 1958-1961. She stopped teaching to start a family and was a stay- at-home mom for several years.
Once her children were in school, she continued her education at Palmer Graduate Library School, C.W. Post College, Greenvale NY receiving her Master’s degree in Library Science, in 1974. She was the children’s librarian at East Islip Public Library for decades, until her retirement in 1994. This was another career Irene loved as she was surrounded by children and books. She initiated many wonderful children’s reading programs, newsletters and events.
Irene and Les retired to Irasburg, VT to be close to their grandchildren, Ryan and Connor. She treasured her time with her family and friends, but especially cherished her grandchildren. In their retirement they enjoyed their family gatherings, long walks, kayaking, swimming, bike rides, traveling, and exploring the back roads of Vermont. They spent a wonderful 51 years together as soulmates, until Les’s death in 2006.
Irene was a dedicated and loving mother. She was a surrogate mother to many, sharing kind words, sending cards, and spending time with those whom she loved and who loved her in return. But her most beloved role was grandmother.
Irene was fluent in Polish, her first language. She enjoyed dancing and aspired at one time to be a professional dancer. She loved going to the ballet, theater and museums. Irene enjoyed playing her piano, listening to music, sewing, watching old movies, trying new foods, having a glass of good wine, driving her car and she was always up for new experiences. Irene was the Champion of Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and any other board game requiring vast knowledge. She was a lover of animals, plants and living things. She never asked for anything in return for her generous ways and charitable contributions. She had a zest for life and a was a shining star, always with a smile, a kind word and a helping hand. She always believed it was better to give than receive. She made the world a better place.
Irene loved their home in Irasburg, where she remained independent and very active until the time of her death. In her own words “I am curious, like to solve problems and find answers, and believe in excellence in any undertaking.”
She is survived by her son Robert Faggiani of Chesapeake VA, her daughter Kate Fletcher (Ed Whipple) of Coventry VT, her grandsons Ryan Fletcher of Rochester NY and Connor Fletcher of Coventry VT, her brother Richard Rzonca (Joan) of Twin Lakes WI, her niece Deborah Miskell (Donald) of Pahrump NV, her nephew Paul Rzonca (Noriko) of Hachioji Japan, her niece Diane Rzonca of Gurney IL her nephew Peter Rzonca (Nancy) of Twin Lakes WI and many other relatives across the country. There will be a celebration of her life in September, 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations in Irene’s name can be made to the East Islip Public Library or by planting a memory tree with the Arbor Day Foundation. Arrangements by the AW Rich Funeral Home, Fairfax VT.