w London - Katherine Buonocore, 94, of New London, beloved mother of Ann Marie and Toula Buonocore and loving wife of Henry, fell asleep peacefully in the LORD during the wee hours of the morning Nov. 24, 2021, surrounded by her daughters. "Casey," "Kay" was born Katherine Coin Sept. 16, 1927, in Rock Island, Ill. She was the daughter of Greek immigrants, Harry Stanley Coin and Toula (Papastephanou) Coin.
She had three younger brothers, and helped her mother raise them. Because of this duty plus house chores, she was held back from kindergarten by her mom. Casey was bright and skipped to the first grade; so that didn't matter. Her family was Greek Orthodox and had a strong faith in God. She could speak, read and write Greek, as well as English. She was an avid reader, and loved history, especially American history. She was patriotic and a proud American.
Casey loved to play golf and many times would rise early in the morning to play nine holes with a friend before going to school; and was very proud of her one time hole-in-one. She loved to dance to the music of the Glenn Miller Band and enjoyed the Blues; and recounted how she taught "all the boys" from her church and school how to dance at the family home. She was a true friend to many and called herself, as did many others, the quintessential "eternal optimist."
She grew up in a more gentile time - a traveling salesman came to the door selling potato peelers, and she begged her mom to spend the 25 cents to buy one, because it was so laborious with just a knife; "The Wizard of Oz" was at the theaters; and it was the first time she, and everyone else in the theater, saw a movie "in color." She told us she wanted to be an archeologist, but she was called off the golf course one day to temporarily fill-in for the bookkeeper at her father's bakery. With no idea about how, her dad instructed her to "just copy what Lois did;" and hence, her career as a bookkeeper was launched. She was a fast learner and good with numbers.
She graduated from Rock Island High School in 1945, and earned an associate's degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. Casey was quite progressive for her day, moving to Chicago, and taking a job as secretary to the editor-in-chief for the American People's Encyclopedia. She was proud for her editorial credit in the volume pertaining to whales. At that time, she was living at the YMCA, when she met the love of her life, aspiring actor Henry Buonocore. They were married in 1957, and moved to New York City, where Casey worked as a Glamour Girl giving out chocolates at B. Altman's, and later at American Airlines in area control where they were afraid her voice might be too sexy for the job!
They eventually settled in New London, and had two daughters, Ann Marie and Toula. She loved being a wife and a mother and was "the Best Mom Ever!" She was always gracious, loving, caring and nurturing. For us as young girls, she prepared beautiful birthdays, holidays and every days making our house a home. We had a "candy drawer" at our house filled with mini-candy bars and Yoo Hoos which made us the most popular house in the neighborhood. As a self-taught gourmet chef, she taught us about traditions through her cooking and baking lessons and the importance of acts of love, happily sewing Halloween and dance costumes. She loved Doris Day music, movies, live theater and evenings with friends. She was the biggest fan of her husband Henry and his entertaining personality. She worked side by side with him, running the A & W Root Beer Stand on Coleman Street in New London. Then she worked as a bookkeeper at Hobby Crafts, Thames River Greenery and the Esposito Insurance Agency. She was an integral part of her daughter's business ventures: mall push carts, jewelry sales, real estate (She took and passed the board test.) and silk flower arranging company. Kay served as the church secretary for over 14 years at the St. Sophia Hellenic Greek Orthodox Church in New London, where she was an active member for over 60 years.
She loved her church. She was a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Enosis Philoptochos Society, (In 1991, she was the Woman of the Year.) and always a volunteer at the annual Greek Festival. Kay was kind, loving, and compassionate - a natural psychologist. Many friends and relatives sought her advice and help on different occasions. She was a great listener, a true friend and the calm through the storm staying pretty much on an even keel. People knew they could rely on her and trust her. Kay gave of herself to others especially to her husband and children. Kay never swore; she rarely got angry; she never spoke a bad word about anyone. Many friends would say, "Kay is a saint." She was so sweet and kind. She would never complain or whine. A member of the greatest generation ever. Kay was very happy and content with her life. In her own words, after a self review of her life, and almost in surprise, she announced, "I've lived a fairy tale life!"
She was an amazing woman with incredible patience, and endured life's ups and downs with a smile on her face. She was truly blessed by God with His peace. We could all learn something from Kay, and we certainly did. As willing caregivers to our mother, we learned the true meaning of unconditional love, "true agape love," Kay is truly loved by all her friends and relatives and will be greatly missed. She was predeceased by her husband of 60 years, Henry; and is survived by her daughters, Ann Marie of New London and Mystic, and Toula of Groton; three brothers, Stanley (Kay) of Rock Island, Ill., George (Nancy) of Davenport, Iowa, and Tasso (Liz) of Naples, Fla.; brother and sister-in-law Jim and Candy Buonocore, Mystic; lifelong, good friend Connie Runge, Davenport, Iowa; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins from Connecticut and Illinois. A sincere thank you to all those who assisted with her care.
Visiting hours will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Byles Memorial Home, 99 Huntington Street, New London. Masks required. The funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec, 3, at St. Sophia Hellenic Greek Orthodox Church, 200 Hempstead Street, New London. Kay expressed her interest in helping children; and donations for that purpose can made to St. Sophia, re: Katherine Buonocore Fund. Please visit www.byles.com
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Published by The Day on Nov. 28, 2021.