OBITUARY

Lois Andrea VIGGIANO

June 17, 1947November 4, 2020

Lois “Andrea” Clendining Viggiano died peacefully surrounded by family on November 4th, 2020.

When Andrea was four years old, she learned to read. With a deep-seated inquisitive mind and most curious nature, bright young Andrea’s world was opened.

Andrea came from a family of teachers. She majored in English in college, though she did not teach right away. When she was 29, Andrea was having fun, happy and confident in herself. She was working in sales -- one of the few women in the business. One night, she went to her friends’ Phyllis and Rick’s house for dinner. That evening, she met their friend Lou.

Being himself, Louie quickly charmed Andrea with his warmth, humor, and easy display of love for his sweet five-year-old son, Weegee. Andrea and Lou were married eight months later. And three years after in 1980, Andrea and Lou gave birth to twin daughters, Kate and Amanda.

In her late 30’s, Andrea decided that it was time to shift to a vocation that fed her soul -- teaching. After starting her career at Toms River High School North teaching English and Journalism, she moved to High School South, home of the Indians. As Advisor of the school newspaper, her Chieftain room became a haven of safety, acceptance, and growth. In addition, Andrea acted as the advisor for the founding of a Feminist Club, and then years later, the founding of a LGBTQ+ club. Many of her students became an extension of her family. She retired from HS South after 24 years.

Even after she retired, Andrea sought interesting conversations and opportunities to explore new ideas, to write, and to expand. Andrea faced hardships that could break anyone’s heart -- yet she faced them as she did everything else: with acceptance, grace, and grit. In 2014 her son Weegee died. Soon after she was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease and then three bouts of cancer. And yet -- she loved and grew and expanded and cherished.

Andrea went into the hospital with pneumonia on Sunday, October 25th and the family realized after a few days that she was declining. Andrea chose to begin her transition when she was ready, and when she did, she was surrounded by love the whole way.

Andrea is survived by her beloved husband Lou “Chiefie”, twin daughters Kate Viggiano Janich and Amanda Viggiano Cohen; sons-in-law Miles Janich and Jeremy Cohen; grandchildren Finn and Tessa Janich, and Grey and Wes Cohen; her “Tiffy” and family; sisters Colette and Natalie, brother Tom; and sisters-in-spirit Jean and Melva.

“Being together, I feel like everything is as it should be...I’ll never be ready to leave you…I grieve it. And then I just, -- I remember the love. It always, always helps me.”

Andrea shared these words on November 1st.

While the loss of Andrea will certainly lessen the beauty of this world, there is no doubt that she has planted the seeds of love, gratitude, and wonder in all of us. Together, as we grieve, we will remember Andrea. We will remember the love.

Candlelight Vigil for Andrea Viggiano Join us In-person or Virtually on Saturday, November 21st. Ceremony will begin at approximately 4:20/4:25. In-person details: Toms River High School South, Detwiler Stadium (HS South Football Field), 55 Hyers St. Toms River, NJ 08753. Please arrive by about 4 pm, as the ceremony will begin at approximately 4:15/4:20 pm. Social distancing and masks are required.

Virtual details: For those of you who can not attend in person, whether it's because you live far or are being extra cautious, we now have a virtual option to join the vigil.

If you will join virtually, please RSVP by going to the Eventbrite link below. Note: You need to RSVP just once even if you have several people joining the Zoom along with you at home. Zoom Details are in the Eventbrite and will be emailed once you register. Our coordinator will be happy to assist you if you need help.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lois-andrea-viggiano-virtual-candlelight-vigil-tickets-129814583915

Please make sure to dial into the Zoom between 3:45 and 4:15.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations on behalf of Andrea Clendining Viggiano to the Ms. Foundation for Women. Founded by Gloria Steinem, one of Andrea’s heros, the mission of the Ms. Foundation for Women is to build women’s collective power in the U.S. to advance equity and justice for all.

A Life Remembered

Andrea lived a rich and beautiful life that affected so many. If you would like to read more about her, please see this longer version of her story. Unless otherwise noted, the quotes are directly from Andrea.

---

“My childhood -- the early years -- has an aura to it, a halo of dust motes in golden sunlight -- perhaps the first time I remember my own awareness.”

On a Tuesday, the 17th of June 1947, Andrea was named Lois to her chagrin -- but thankfully called by her middle name starting the day she was born. She grew up in Haddon Township, NJ with her big sister Constance (Connie), who was her “best friend, worst enemy, dearest sharer of life.” When Andrea was six, her baby brother Mark was born: “He was so beautiful. We dressed him and walked him; I remember reading to him -- he always caught me when I tried to skip pages.”

When Andrea was four years old, Connie taught Andrea to read. With a deep-seated inquisitive mind and most curious nature, bright young Andrea’s world was opened. Through her life, Andrea wondered. She wondered about the how’s, the why’s. She noticed the smallest of shifts and connections and often asked why things were so, helping open the minds of anyone along her conversation path.

And then -- she would write about her wonder. Dozens, no, hundreds of journals are stored in her sunroom -- filled with her thoughts and journeys from school-age days to her last days in the hospital. Her writing also transcended into beautiful creative stories, poems, and other breathtaking writings. Her words, aloud or written, had a power and elegance rarely seen.

Andrea came from a family of teachers. She majored in English in college, though she did not teach right away. She spent her twenties exploring, writing, growing, learning. She had a first marriage that broke her heart at 25 but made her stronger. Some of her best memories were of living in New York City in her late twenties, waiting tables, spending time with friends who matched her spirit, and finding her first black cat, Sammy. When she was 29, Andrea was having fun, happy and confident in herself. She was working in sales -- one of the few women in the business. One night, she went to her friends’ Phyllis and Rick’s house for dinner. And that evening, she met their friend Louie.

“He was the most wonderful thing I’d been around in a long time. I think we fell in love that night. There was such a recognition -- everything we found out about each other seemed both, “‘Wow!’” and “‘Of course!’”

Being himself, Louie quickly charmed Andrea with his warmth, humor, and easy display of love for his sweet five-year-old son, Weegee. When Andrea invited Phyllis and Rick to her apartment for dinner, she ended up inviting him too. Then soon, Louie asked Andrea to his own house for dinner, where they spent time with Weegee, ate pizza, watched TV and talked and laughed. They were married eight months later. And three years after in 1980, Andrea and Lou gave birth to twin daughters, Kate and Amanda.

“My children, even the thought of them -- evoke, constantly and reliably, the most spontaneous tears of joy - excitement, laughter, chagrin, wonder -- and gratitude.”

Over the next decades, Andrea spent time as a mother, she wrote, and worked. She raised her children to be compassionate, to offer genuine compliments, and to use and accept humor as a salve. She taught them to notice and be grateful for the little things -- the colors of a peach, the smell of lilacs, a beautiful song, the kindness of a stranger.

As the world changed around her -- big business grew bigger and the hearts of companies became smaller, she decided that it was time to shift to a vocation that fed her soul -- teaching.

“When I decided to leave business and teach instead...I left because I wanted to do a job I thought was important. I knew that teaching involves more than the subject matter - it involves the transmission of values, a view of the world that in however small a way will shape the future. I love the world and life so much - it was my hope that I could spark and strengthen that love in others, perpetrating a vision of life that is creative and optimistic, loving and purposeful. You make me feel that my hope is a reality, and I do thank you, with all my heart, for allowing my vision to matter in your lives."

Starting as a substitute, Andrea soon got a job at Toms River High School North teaching English. She knew she found her calling. After a few years at North, she moved to High School South, home of the Indians, and stayed there from 1989 to 2013, when she retired.

Andrea taught all different levels of English and Journalism during her time with South. As advisor for the school newspaper, The Chieftain, Andrea encouraged, nurtured and respected each writer’s artistic expression, personal opinions, and stood by them even in cases of criticism and calls for censorship. Several times she made a guest teacher appearance on stage, whether it was singing a solo of “Silent Night” with her beautiful singing voice, or lip-syncing and dancing to “Walk It Out.” The students went wild.

Students also loved to gift Andrea's desk with toys, especially rubber duckies. Even after retirement, Andrea kept the small gifts, the vast amount of duckies, as a way of continuing to treasure her students. Andrea’s favorite lessons were those of Thoreau and Emerson, and she loved watching understanding click in her students’ brains.

But more than anything, Andrea cherished her kids. She saw them at their core and liked who they were. She showed her students humor, treated them with respect, and believed in them. She was real.

More than a few times, Andrea took students under her wing when they needed strength and love. Her Chieftain room became a haven of safety, acceptance, and growth. Several former students shared that she saved their lives. And now -- many of these students are thriving adults, making the world better around them. Those students became an extension of her family.

“‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.’ Just that image -- I am meant not to stand out, as if I were the only flower, but to flower completely, as the fullest version of my uniqueness. Which leaf completes the tree? Is there a tipping point, or is each one replaceable? I think each one adds to the richness. So maybe we wouldn’t notice an absence as such, but with each loss the beauty thins.”

Not a fan of surface-level conversations, Andrea would find the people who didn’t shy away from complexity. Even after she retired, Andrea sought interesting conversations and opportunities to explore new ideas and expand. She joined a book club full of her teacher friends that brought her so much joy and fulfillment -- talking about books and life and supporting each other through the years. She participated in a memoir writing club, where, even in the last year, she explained that to share her story, she had to tell the whole story, or else she could not tell the rest honestly. Her willingness to be open brought the group to a new level. She joined several groups focused on intention and meditation, bringing to the groups the sense of wonder and insights she carried throughout her life.

“Over the past few years if I learned anything, it was that I cannot control what happens, to me or the world. I can control how I will handle it, learning to accept it instead of resisting it...It’s just hard on the ego to realize that we don’t necessarily know best, and even if we think we do it doesn’t make any difference. Every time I stop resisting, I feel better -- optimism pops up in the form of acceptance and looking forward with interest.”

Andrea faced hardships that could break anyone’s heart -- yet she faced them as she did everything else: with acceptance, grace, and grit.

In 2014 her son Weegee died. Soon after she was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease and then three bouts of cancer. And yet -- she loved and grew and expanded and cherished.

As “Nana,” Andrea got the chance to meet and know and love her four grandchildren. She continued to be the best mom to her daughters. She spoke with her dearest ones, giving advice and always saying the right thing when needed -- and of course, sharing some of her wicked humor when the situation called for it.

Andrea loved to make Thanksgiving dinners and to yell at folks to get out of her kitchen when she cooked it. She loved her Southern Comfort Manhattans with a side of rocks on the side. She loved sitting in her sunroom, writing in her journals and watching the chipmunks and birds outside her window. She adored her cat Harry. She spent countless hours watching and cheering on Rachel Maddow, working on her writing, and making smart, thoughtful, and caring comments on the walls of her Facebook friends. She savored the nightly milkshakes made by Louie (strawberry was her favorite) and every morning cup of coffee. She never failed to see the beauty around her, pausing a conversation to point out a cloud, bird, the way the sun would shine through the trees. Always aware and cognizant of the world and its wonders.

Andrea went into the hospital with pneumonia on Sunday, October 25th and the family realized after a few days that she was declining. During her time at the hospital, Andrea shared her wishes, and she was so much herself still -- sharing her curiosity, her observations of the world, her gratitude, and even her humor.

Andrea chose to begin her transition when she was ready, and when she did, she was surrounded by love the whole way.

Andrea is survived by her beloved husband Lou “Chiefie”, twin daughters Kate Viggiano Janich and Amanda Viggiano Cohen; sons-in-law Miles Janich and Jeremy Cohen; grandchildren Finn and Tessa Janich, and Grey and Wes Cohen; her “Tiffy” and family; sisters Colette and Natalie, brother Tom; and sisters-in-spirit Jean and Melva.

“Being together, I feel like everything is as it should be...I’ll never be ready to leave you…I grieve it. And then I just, -- I remember the love. It always, always helps me.”

Andrea shared these words on November 1st.

While the loss of Andrea will certainly lessen the beauty of this world, there is no doubt that she has planted the seeds of love, gratitude, and wonder in all of us. Together, as we grieve, we will remember Andrea. We will remember the love.

Candlelight Vigil for Andrea Viggiano Join us In-person or Virtually on Saturday, November 21st. Ceremony will begin at approximately 4:20/4:25. In-person details: Toms River High School South, Detwiler Stadium (HS South Football Field), 55 Hyers St. Toms River, NJ 08753. Please arrive by about 4 pm, as the ceremony will begin at approximately 4:15/4:20 pm. Social distancing and masks are required.

Virtual details: For those of you who can not attend in person, whether it's because you live far or are being extra cautious, we now have a virtual option to join the vigil.

If you will join virtually, please RSVP by going to the Eventbrite link below. Note: You need to RSVP just once even if you have several people joining the Zoom along with you at home. Zoom Details are in the Eventbrite and will be emailed once you register. Our coordinator will be happy to assist you if you need help.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lois-andrea-viggiano-virtual-candlelight-vigil-tickets-129814583915

Please make sure to dial into the Zoom between 3:45 and 4:15.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations on behalf of Andrea Clendining Viggiano to the Ms. Foundation for Women. Founded by Gloria Steinem, one of Andrea’s heros, the mission of the Ms. Foundation for Women is to build women’s collective power in the U.S. to advance equity and justice for all.

SEND FLOWERS Add a
Memory
Receive
Notifications

Services

  • Candlelight Vigil - Detwiler Stadium - Please arrive by 4:00 PM

    Saturday, November 21, 2020

Receive
Notifications
Show Your
Support

Memories

Lois Andrea VIGGIANO

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Erin Vieira

November 21, 2020

Words will never express how much you meant to me, you meant to this world. Thank you so much for being you, and supporting me, even when I was so afraid I’d disappoint you. I adore you, and will miss your wit, your sense of humor, and your very honest way of looking at this world. Thank you for being there for me in so many ways, the little ones, the oh so big ones—thank you. Sending hugs and loving thoughts to your family.

Kathleen Ferraro

November 19, 2020

Sweetness and light; laughter and smiles. What a beautiful, intelligent, insightful, sensitive and cleverly funny person Andrea was! What a loving, caring woman. What a fantastic teacher, a fabulous mom & great, great person. I know that Andrea will be missed by her family, friends and all those who loved her. May her sweet and deeply compassionate soul Rest In Peace.
Kathy Ferraro

April Njari

November 17, 2020

I'm a friend of Kate's and met Andrea a few times here in Falls Church. Kate recently led a group of women in setting intentions and deep reflection. I enjoyed getting to know Andrea more through this project. Her words were always deep, authentic, intuitive and reflective. She shared such wisdom, compassion and vulnerability. What an inspiring woman, full of strength! I'm grateful to have known her. Rest in peace, Andrea.

Rich Mina

November 16, 2020

Andrea Viggiano - or just plain Vig- what memories I have of my colleague from Toms River South. I handed off the Chieftain newspaper to her when I left South knowing that she would provide dignity for the writers, limits to journalism at that level and for that audience, and a gentle caring for the kids and their stories. Vig cared as much as anyone I ever met in my 30 years of teaching. She always talked about her girls and her family whenever she could, but she was fiercely loyal to her students. Her love and compassion were shared with everyone. The world is indeed a better place for Andrea taught us about peace, self awareness, and respect for each other. She was the true model of the Transcendentalism which she taught and modeled. She will be missed.

Jane Zilka

November 14, 2020

We are not ready for you to ever leave us! The most beautiful person that has ever graced this earth! Thank you for the opportunity to feel such love! Because of you we have known love. Thank you

Jeff Lupardo

November 9, 2020

Kate and Amanda:

I know that words are insufficient to comfort at this time, but please know that my thoughts are with you all. I don't need to tell you this; but I will anyway. Your mom was an incredibly kind, witty, honest, and intelligent person. I have many fond memories of spending time with you all at the beach, your house, and here in D.C. I will always remember your mom as a person that was full of joy, extremely thoughtful, and passionate. I remember spending a great deal of time with her talking about life, books, and everything in between. She was a considerate listener and provided great perspective. I rarely, if ever, left her presence without a smile. I consider myself fortunate to have known her and to have spent time with her throughout the years (going way back to HS days). Please know that you have my deepest sympathy.

Sincerely,
Jeff Lupardo

Arlene Yaeger

November 9, 2020

You’ve all said it so well, there is not much to add except to say that Andrea was exceptional. Her intelligence, her wit, her honesty, her insight, her integrity....just to mention a few. She was kind to me during a difficult period of my life and for that, I am grateful. To all who knew and loved her, my condolences. A very bright light may have been extinguished, but I have no doubt her light will continue to shine in all of you.

Kevin Williams

November 9, 2020

Our family sends our thoughts and prayers to all of you. My son Brandon was especially saddened to hear the news as he has fond memories of one of his favorite teachers at TRS. We share great memories of the 2nd Avenue Beach with all of you and hope those and many others will get you through these difficult times.

MICHELE CARILLO

November 8, 2020

From the Carillo Family. Our sincere sympathy.
Anthony, Michele, David, Celene and Matthew

Robert Atkins

November 7, 2020

So what can I tell you about Andrea Viggiano? I knew her as a devoted mom, a fun colleague, a person who came from enough of life's ups and downs and was real to every person she met. She saw only the best in people.

Andrea was a great learner and teacher. I recall her sitting in on my classes as she was in preparation to earn her certification and join us. She came to teaching later than me, but complimented me and other teachers who she felt a kinship to, and understood me as a student advocate above all. And she knew the lit, enjoyed the job thoroughly, prepared well, volunteered her time selflessly for students, and explained on a level each and every one, adults and youngsters could get, clearly.

Andrea had a pedagogic technique to put all students at ease. She was a wonderful colleague who borrowed and shared and laughed and commiserated with us the disappointments (if that was part of the day), she shared with all our ups and downs. And only looked up.

Yes, she knew her stuff, prepared well, and explained clearly.
But that's not what made her a great teacher, that's what made her a competent teacher. She was a great teacher because she truly cared about her students. Mrs. Viggiano fair to a fault when dealing with teens. Mrs. V gave them her time, and lots of it. She supported and listened to them and let them know she cared. She took them seriously, no matter what. And when they did something good, she praised them - and she meant it; nothing made Andrea happier than seeing her students do well.

I was delighted that Andrea became my FB friend many years after I had retired. We still had a great rapport and kinship, and her last "like" of one of my posts was only in mid-October.

My heartfelt sympathies go to Andrea's family, friends, former colleagues students, because we all knew her love of life and people, but I know now she is looking out for us as the angel she is.

May you rest in peace, Andrea, and know we have all learned from you.

FROM THE FAMILY

Learn more about the VIGGIANO name

VISIT ANCESTRY.COM