Justine "Tina" Torelli
October 11, 1937 – March 22, 2020
On Sunday March 22, 2020, Justine “Tina” Torelli passed away at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer and other health challenges. She is remembered for her strength, dignity, tenacity, positivity, humor and her dedication to caring for others.
Tina was born October 11, 1937 to Veronica (Cheney) and Albert Cote. She graduated as valedictorian from Marlborough High School in 1955 and at the age of 18 entered the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Hanover in 1958 to begin a long and dedicated career in nursing and public health.
In those days, training was intensive and hands-on from the very beginning. Tina recalls taking care of a patient in an “iron lung,” who turned out to be the last person affected with polio to be treated in Hanover. Her training provided a number of rotations at Hitchcock affiliated hospitals including Concord State Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Cancer Research Foundation (later Dana Farber Cancer Institute), the world renowned teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, and Boston Lying In where she “loved caring for the babies” in obstetrics.
After earning her RN cap and pin, she worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton in the outpatient care unit. She has fond memories of living along the Fenway in Boston with other young nurses, where they would walk to work, community events, and to church in Roxbury on Sundays. She recently reflected, “I remember all the wonderful people, excellent career training, and what an adventure it was for a young woman from a small town to be in the big city.”
After five years in Boston, and the birth of her son Tad in 1963, she and first husband Thomas Dwyer moved to Hartford CT where she worked nights at St. Francis Hospital in West Hartford, which she recalled as “a beautiful Catholic hospital with a large chapel where I would often visit after my shift before going home.”
Two years later the young family moved back to NH, settled in Keene and welcomed daughter Lesley. Recently Tina said, “My greatest joy ever was to raise my children and to do my best to create a good life through the ups and downs.” Purchasing the little white house on Mayflower Drive was one of her proudest accomplishments. Tina continued her nursing career in Keene at Elliot Community Hospital and in 1973 at the new Cheshire Medical Center ICU, at the private practice of Dr. James Ballou, at Keene State College Infirmary, and finally at Maplewood Nursing Home.
Tina’s second marriage to Manfredo “Fred” Torelli in 1985 brought Tina full circle back to Marlborough. Tina was a wonderful chef and baker, and she and Fred loved to host and entertain family and friends. She was never too busy to stop what she was doing to listen to or play with her grandchildren, and she prioritized attending many dance, sport, and school events in support of them. Together Fred and Tina traveled throughout the US and the world including to Fred’s homeland Switzerland, Peru, China, and several countries in Africa. Most importantly, her marriage to Fred brought her daughter Sonya into her life. Tina and Sonya were truly kindred spirits. Known to Sonya as “Honey,” Tina always appreciated Sonya’s capacity, creativity and humor, and was always a strong advocate on Sonya’s behalf.
After her retirement from Maplewood Nursing Home, Tina continued to serve in the community and care for others. She was the Town of Marlborough Health Inspector for 12 years, acted as Interim Administrator of the Carpenter Home in Swanzey for a summer, worked with the Wellness Program at Southwestern Community Services, and taught LNA courses through the Red Cross.
In early 2018, Tina and Fred moved to American House in Keene for the winter. After Fred passed away in May 2018, Tina remained in her “nest” at American House where she found a new sense of independence as well as camaraderie. She enjoyed meeting new people, participating in events and activities, and acting as a welcoming mentor for new residents. She loved joining longtime friends for lunches, and continued to be her family’s matriarch. As her health declined, she was able to reconnect with several of the LNAs she trained and see them in action. Tina was full of admiration and appreciation for the skilled and compassionate care provided to her by American House staff.
Tina was predeceased by her parents, her second husband and one grandchild, Brandon Russell. She is survived by her sister Julie Luopa and her husband Reggie, sister Paula Baldwin and her husband Jim, children Tad Dwyer and his wife Tammy, Lesley Blecharczyk and her husband Jeffrey, step children Marc Torelli and his wife Karen, Blair Torelli and his wife Michelle, and her beloved Sonya Torelli, as well as her grandchildren Grace Blecharczyk, Nicholas Dwyer, Ross Torelli, Jordan Torelli, Dani Orlando and Gabi Orlando, nephews James Baldwin and David Luopa and nieces Paula Ann Baldwin and Elizabeth Stanley.
A memorial mass and gathering will be scheduled for a later date, when we can come together safely as a community. Until then, please remember Tina in your heart. Please view, and help create, Tina’s memorial website by visiting http://justine-tina-torelli.forevermissed.com.
For those who wish, contributions in Tina’s memory can be made to New Hope New Horizons c/o Southwestern Community Services, 63 Community Way, PO Box 603, Keene, NH 03431; to NH Catholic Charities, 215 Myrtle Street, Manchester, NH 03104-4354 or www.cc-nh.org/donate; or to the charity of your choice.
A memorial mass and gathering will be scheduled for a later date when we can come together safely as a community.
Justine "Tina" Torelli
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April 12, 2020
So sorry for loss, Tina held a special spot in my heart, I will miss her deeply!!!