Catherine Theresa Manzo, 91; Gifted Artist

Catherine Theresa Manzo, age 91, of Somerset, passed away on Jan. 31.

The daughter of Irish immigrants and the youngest of four children, she was born in Queens, New York on January 1, 1927.

In her youth, “Kay” as she was known to friends and family alike, was an excellent student. She attended St. Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Grammar School in Queens, NY and Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn, NY, where she was the recipient of a full academic scholarship.

Artistically gifted, she then attended Queens College, City University of New York where she majored in art and served as the President of the Theta Nu Sorority before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. Also at that college, she met another student majoring in art, the love of her life, best friend, and husband of 65 years- Richard J. Manzo, after he had served in World War II. To him, Kay was “a treasure, a real gem. . . a devoted, caring wife and mother, consistently placing the needs of her family above her own.”

Possessing a knack for recognizing art and design trends well before their time, after graduating, Kay continued her education with two years of post-baccalaureate studies in calligraphy with sought-after teacher Arnold Bank at the Art Students League of New York. A gifted calligrapher and letterer, Kay’s beautiful handwriting graced everything from her children’s daily lunch bags to wedding invitations to decorated manuscripts. Her talent well supported her early career in advertising where she worked as a commercial artist on Long Island and later in Manhattan.

Then, as a mother of four children, she continued her commercial art career on a freelance basis and also chaired the local Women’s Club art group. In 1973, she returned to the workforce on a full-time basis for over a decade, starting first as an art director. She was soon promoted to Art Department Manager of the Home News, central New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper at the time.

For 57 years, Kay was an active member of St. Matthias Catholic Church, providing artwork for many of the church’s functions. Over the years, she was also involved in St. Matthias’ Altar Rosary Society and served as the vice-president of the St. Matthias Parent-Teachers Association. She was a tremendous witness to her faith; a woman of true virtue and grace.

Always proud of her Irish heritage, Kay visited the Emerald Isle on several occasions. Traditional Celtic designs and Irish blessings always adorned her home. Kay’s children feel that in her, they “won the Mom lottery,” as she was an incredibly giving and supportive mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Kay served as a Girl Scout leader, a Cub Scout “den mother”, and a regular art contributor to the project du jour. Kay loved her daily crossword puzzle, was an expert and avid bridge player, and even more so, the time she shared with her husband and friends playing it. Along with other devoted bridge players, she launched a bridge group that continued to meet regularly for decades.

Kay is survived by her husband, Richard J. Manzo, her four children Peter (Kathy) Manzo, Ellen M. Manzo, Kathryn A. Manzo, and Donna (Douglas) Mooney, her eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind numerous loving relatives and friends.

Arrangements will be provided by the Gleason Funeral Home, 1360 Hamilton St., and St. Matthias Catholic Church, 168 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Visiting will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Feb. 17 at St. Matthias Church and the funeral mass will follow at noon. Consult the Gleason Funeral Home website (www.gleasonfuneralhome.com) to leave tributes and condolences.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to charities that were near and dear to Kay’s heart: Fotokids- an educational organization benefiting the impoverished children of Guatemala (www.fotokidsoriginal.org), founded by her niece/photographer, Nancy McGirr; or the Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation of Los Gatos (www.honorAvet.org), founded by the volunteer efforts of her daughter, Ellen Manzo. Both are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.


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