Passed away on November 27, 2019
Gloria Troia (Mantione), 84, of Sunnyside, died Wednesday (November 27) surrounded by her family.
Gloria is the mother of Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, Sal Troia and Acting Supreme Court Judge Charles M. Troia. She is the wife of the late Salvatore Troia, to whom she was married for 50 years.
Gloria was born on Cayuga Street in Sunnyside. Her parents, the late Calogera Licata and Salvatore Mantione, emigrated from Racalmuto, Agrigento, Sicily in 1915. Gloria’s first language was Sicilian and she enjoyed learning languages, adding fluency in French to her English and Sicilian languages. A graduate of St. Joseph Hill Academy Elementary and High School in 1952, she and her sister, Pauline became the first in their family to attend college. Gloria graduated Fordham University in 1956, majoring in Education and French, and began her career as a NYC Public School teacher, first at PS 26, Travis, then PS 30, Westerleigh.
She is most known on Staten Island for her tenure at PS 45, where she taught kindergarten for nearly four decades. She received her Master’s in Education and post master’s thirty-credit certification in Education from Richmond College.
She was renowned throughout Staten Island for creative, committed and compassionate teaching of thousands of kindergarten students, over her 43 year teaching tenure. She was among the first teachers in NYC to pilot the pre-kindergarten program in the mid 1970s and was a staunch believer in pre-K early learning of young students.
In a letter to the editor to the Staten Island Advance in 1984, 25 kindergarten parents from PS 45 let their feelings about Gloria be known. “In a quiet unassuming public school on Staten Island, there is a very special teacher and a very caring person going about her work day after day with warm, sensitivity and expert pedagogical skill,” the letter began. "The school is PS 45, West Brighton. The teacher is Gloria Troia...
“Gloria Troia is keenly aware of the feelings of her small charges...Countless parents, as well as children of all ages, have found a patient ear and sound advice with help where needed,” it went on. “Gloria Troia does not operate on a 8:30 - 3:00 mentality. Loving dedication, commitment, concern, caring, well-rounded educational experience and more all converge in this multi-talented woman and educator. She is an asset to your system and an excellent example of what is right with our public schools. Gloria Troia’s secret of success is intangible, not to be measured by statistics. We, the undersigned 25 parents, write this letter in gratitude for the wonderful kindergarten learning experience our children had with Mrs. Gloria Troia.” Gloria was an accomplished pianist who served as the musician and unofficial music teacher at PS 45, preparing students for their school assemblies, awards programs and graduations with songs and musical accompaniment. She brought her music talents to her church home as the occasional organist at St. Teresa’s RC Parish and St. Nicholas Chapel.
She also sang with the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Inter-Faith Choir and for many years in the UFT Chorus.
A gifted craft artist, Gloria was known for her ability to create hundreds of art pieces out of simple household items. She took her artist gifts from the classroom to the church hall, assisting in children’s craft projects with local churches. She was a volunteer craft artist with the Positive Living Dinner for People with HIV at St. John’s Lutheran Church for nearly a decade. A volunteer at Project Hospitality, Gloria and her husband, Sal, started the bread pickup program at the homeless drop in center, picking up bread and pastries from local bakeries and delivering to the agency’s homeless outreach center. Gloria also prepared meals for homeless guests at the Brighton Heights Reformed Church shelter.
Gloria’s first love was her family. Although she devoted her day to kindergarten teaching at PS 45, she returned home to help her husband in the late afternoons, working beside him at his diner in Sunnyside or in St. George. She was known to work three jobs a day: One as a professional educator and two jobs serving customers at her husband’s diners and butcher shop.
Following in her mother’s sacrifice for her, Gloria gave each of her children a Catholic elementary, high school, and college education. Her love for her own children was transformed into a love for all children in her classroom and school.
She was preoccupied with the simple things in life: Tied shoes, zippered jackets, hats over ears, learning how to read, how to love, and how to respect others. As concrete as she was in her action, she believed in what could only be seen by the heart or sung by the soul or heard in the silence.
It was those invisible gifts and her strong faith in God that she could only see in others that carried her gently into a decade of living with dementia, which she did with great dignity and much joy. A woman of deep faith, she attended Mass as often as she could and was devoted to the rosary, to St. Jude Thaddeus and to St. Padre Pio. She was a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Tompkinsville. Gloria enjoyed a deep friendship with Msgr. Vincent Bartley and could often be found listening to a Fr. Bartley sermon at St. Paul’s Parish or at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish. She regularly attended the healing Mass led by Msgr. Jeff Conway at St. Patrick’s Parish, Richmond.
After caring for her husband of 50 years with cancer, and then burying him, Gloria began the long road to a fragile winter of her years. Those years included many nights out at concerts, musicals and cabaret shows, craft fairs and healing services, walks in parks and on beaches.
Gloria sang at the end of a concert, more than once, with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary and last year got to meet her lifelong idol, Johnny Mathis, after his show in Red Bank, N.J.
Still enamored with craft-making, Gloria went on in these last years to take up watercolor painting and baking.
Gloria enjoyed long weekends at the Jersey Shore, where the soulful sound of the gull took in the great stillness of the gentle sea. She enjoyed those strolls on the beach and boardwalk and out on the pier to observe fishermen, crabbers and children at play. Without intending, she became the face of dignity in the diagnosis of dementia and gave hope to many families afflicted with the same disease. In the winter of her life, as in her spring, Gloria still paid attention to small things: The smile of a friend, the note of a song, the touch of a hand. She loved being loved and loving others. Always a quiet presence, she became quieter in that winter season, until her heart was stilled for a final time on Wednesday.
Gloria is survived by her three children: Terry, Sal and Charles Troia, and her older sister, Pauline Giorlando, Grymes Hill. Her husband, Sal, died in 2006. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Reformed Church of Huguenot Park Forget Me Not Friendship Feast at 5475 Amboy Rd, Staten Island, NY 10312.
Visitation will be at Harmon Home for Funerals Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., and Monday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. A Mass will be offered Tuesday at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church, 10 Austin Pl. at Victory Blvd., at 10 a.m.
- Visitation Sunday, December 1, 2019
- Visitation Monday, December 2, 2019
- Mass of Christian Burial Tuesday, December 3, 2019
- Interment Tuesday, December 3, 2019