June 3, 1923 - May 29, 2018
Josephine Milmoe departed this world on May 29, five days shy of her 95th birthday. She was born Josephine Patricia Ryan on June 3, 1923, the fourth of five children born to Denis Ryan and Catherine (Kitty) Reidy in the Astoria section of Queens in New York City. Both her parents had emigrated from County Tipperary, Ireland in the early 1900’s.
Josephine had 4 siblings: Margaret (d. 2009), Daniel (d. 1994), Cornelius (d. 2001), and Denis (d. 1927). She grew up on 24th Street in Astoria, three blocks from the East River. Shortly after her 5th birthday, her dear mother, Kitty, died of consumption (tuberculosis). This was only one year after her younger brother, Denis , died at the age of 2. Since she was not of school age, her father sent her to live with her Aunt Margaret in Elmhurst, NY for a year. At a very early age, Josephine experienced profound loss.
As a young teenager, Josephine had already taken on the chores of shopping, cooking, and cleaning for her father and two older brothers. Nonetheless, she was one of two girls in her parish to receive a full scholarship to Bishop McDonnell H.S. in Brooklyn, where she graduated in 1941. It was during those years, in the depths of the Great Depression, that her father lost his carpenter business and their home on 24th Street. Josephine would, on occasion, describe coming home from school one day to find the family’s belongings on the sidewalk.
She began her working career at the Arthur Murray dance studio in Long Island City as a receptionist. In 1943, she landed a job with J. Walter Thompson Company, a large advertising company in Manhattan, where she would meet her future husband, John Milmoe in 1944. The war in Europe hit home in late 1944 when Josephine’s brother, Daniel, was reported missing in action in France. She would learn some 5 months later that he was in a prison camp in Berlin, and he was freed just before VE day in May 1945.
John and Josephine were married in May, 1946, and started their family shortly afterwards on Crescent Street in Astoria, at a time when affordable housing was very difficult to find. Gregory (1947) and Catherine (1949) were both born in Astoria. In 1950, John and Josephine moved with their 2 children to a new development in New Hyde Park, located just across the city line in Nassau County . It was here that Stephen (1952), Philip (1958), Mary Ellen (1962), and Andrew (1967) were born and raised in the little white house on Eighth Avenue.
Over the years, Josephine experienced many challenges, not the least of which was when her oldest son, Gregory, contracted polio in October 1954. For 4 months she had to enforce complete bed rest. Doctor Buckley, the family physician, would visit Greg and Josephine to see how they were doing and even scolded her once for allowing Greg to get out of bed to retrieve a ball!
Josephine belonged to the Rosary Altar Society at Holy Spirit church, served as PTA president at Sewanhaka H.S. from 1978-1980, and was a member of the Homemakers Council in New Hyde Park since 1975, serving as the chapter’s president from 1982 to 1984 and The Sunshine Lady for many years thereafter.
Her husband, John, took an early retirement in 1977 due to crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually Parkinson’s disease would bring about the end of their 56-year marriage in October 2002. He died at home in the care of a live-in nurse (Merle) and his devoted wife.
In 2004, Josephine noticed that her 86-year old sister, Margaret, was having more and more trouble living alone in Astoria, so she helped Margaret move in with her in New Hyde Park. Margaret remained there until her dementia was too much for Josephine to manage. Margaret, her last living sibling, died in February 2009.
Josephine loved having her family near, she loved reading historical novels, and she loved the Catholic Church. In addition to her children, she leaves behind a sister-in-law, Dorothy Ryan of Tennessee, daughters-in-law Dolores Milmoe and Kathleen Campion, son-in-law Chris Girgenti, 6 grandchildren (Christopher & Kevin Milmoe; John Schmidt; Benjamin, Amelia & Sophia Girgenti), 2 step grandchildren (Anthony and Carlton Murray), and many nieces and nephews.
Over the last 4 years of her life, Josephine received loving and effective care on a daily basis from Merle DeLeon, the same Merle who attended to John in his last years. In addition, Josephine leaves several caring neighbors on 8th Avenue, whose assistance was a great comfort in her final years.
Wednesday, June 6
3:00 - 8:00 PM
New Hyde Park Funeral Home, 506 Lakeville Road, New Hyde Park, NY
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL
Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, 500 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY
Holy Rood Cemetery, 111 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY