This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration that works to celebrate the lives of every New Jersey resident who has died of COVID-19. To learn more and submit a loved one’s name for profiling, visit loveandlostnj.com.
Food and love were the same things for Kathleen Nigito.
“She loved to cook,” said her daughter, Christina. “She would show her love for you and others through her cooking. She wanted people to feel loved and welcome in her home.”
Friends were always welcome in Kathleen’s traditional Italian-American home, but her family benefited the most from the passion for cooking she absorbed from her mother and grandmother.
“His meat lasagna was legendary,” said his son, Joseph.
The same goes for cookies produced during a three-day baking frenzy each year during the holidays.
“With my mom on vacation it was growing up or coming home,” Christina said.
Known for her infectious laughter, Kathleen was also the calming presence in the Nigito house.
“She was the family peacemaker,” Joseph said. “As long as I knew her, I never saw her argue with anyone. Just being happy, cooking food and that hearty cackle, that’s what she was known for.”
A longtime Jersey girl who grew up in Lodi and lived with her family in Hasbrouck Heights, Kathleen found love in an iconic New Jersey landmark.
“We met at Pizza Town in Elmwood Park,” recalls her husband, Giorgio.
It turns out that a cousin didn’t want to date a friend of his without Kathleen to support him, so Giorgio, fresh out of the military, was recruited to complete a double date.
“We ended up getting married,” he said.
They not only raised a family, but also ran their own printing house in Lodi, working long hours and sometimes seven days a week to pay bills.
“They were trendsetters,” Joseph said. “Back then, most of the old local printing houses were dark and dirty. They made the store very clean and bright, brought in air purifiers for chemical odors. It was like a Kinko when it started. all working in the printing press. “
They closed the store a few years ago, but have remained active, traveling the islands and helping their beloved grandchildren, Vincent and Miabella.
Kathleen also enjoyed visits to Atlantic City, the Showboat among her favorite destinations.
“She loved to play the nickel and penny slots,” said Joseph. “Nothing big. She just enjoyed the excitement and atmosphere of the casinos.”
His skills extended to shopping and navigation. Giorgio said it was strange how she could remember where the best deals were and how to get there.
“If I told her I had something for a dime, she would say ‘They paid me to take it!’ her daughter laughed. “No one has ever had a better deal than my mom.”
She loved shopping with her friends, but Saturday afternoons were my time.
“She had a standing appointment at 3pm every Saturday, like clockwork, to get her nails done, her hair done,” Christina said. “She was known for her beautiful red hair.”
Her busy life came to an end on February 20, 2021. Sweet memories will linger as she cooks for the holidays.
“This will be the first Christmas without her,” Christina said. “I hope to continue the tradition, especially since it is a big concern for my 9 year old child. So I think my brother and sister-in-law and I will get together, make it a family affair and carry on this tradition. “
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please register or activate your digital account today.