About An Amazing Life|Help


October 13, 2019

Share this tribute
Rose Notaro
Memorial Candles Lit for Rose | SEE ALL
"We are honored to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
— Damiano Funeral Home

Obituary for Rose Notaro

Rose Notaro's Eulogy
A Life Well Lived

My oldest son is a freshman in college, and his very first assignment was to write a paper on what is a life well lived. This isn’t something we think about in the day to day craziness of life, but we should. When I gave it some thought, I realized that everything I aspired to have in my life, my grandmother, Rosa Notaro, had achieved. For a life well lived is not about possessions or titles or accomplishments; it’s about leading a meaningful life and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others. And no one did this better than my Nonna Bella.

Born in Vallefiorita, Italy to a family she adored; she met my grandfather, Frank Notaro, at the age of 19 and bravely came to this county knowing no one. They shared a love that was deep and true and they were blessed with three daughters, Rosanna, Marie, and Rita, who they treasured, and worked tirelessly to make their dreams come true. In 1968, they opened the legendary West Long Branch Bakery. There will never be another like it. Nonna, always impeccably put together, ran operations in the front, greeting customers and treating everyone like family. Frank would be in the back, singing, laughing, and baking away. It was a happy place. You could feel the love and happiness when you walked through the door, and my grandparents were an incredible team. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life – and they truly loved what they did.

During these years, my grandparents welcomed 8 grandchildren who were their pride and joy, and 10 great-grandchildren would follow.When my grandfather passed, it rocked Nonna’s world, but with the love and support of her daughters, she found her strength. The bakery became The Gingerbread House Day Care and Nonna would welcome the families in each morning and shower the children with love. She was not only our Nonna anymore, but she became Nonna to every child who entered the Gingerbread House. She was not one to sit still, but instead filled her days cooking for her family and friends in need, visiting those who needed company, knitting the most beautiful blankets, and enjoying her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Always radiant, a true fashionista, Nonna’s true beauty came from within. Her laugh and smile were contagious. She just had this special light about her and when you were in her company, she made you feel like the most important person in the room. She made people feel special and you just wanted to be in her presence. What always stuck me was her goodness and kindness toward everyone. She was always so very humble and unpretentious and treated everyone, no matter their title or position, exactly the same and with the utmost respect. To know Rose Notaro was so love her. She lived each day in such a meaningful way; guided by her faith and always wondering what she could do to make your life a little better.

There’s a quote I saw once that really caught my intention. It said the smallest gesture is worth more than the grandest intention. I know, speaking for myself, often times my intentions are good. I’ll think about how I can brighten someone’s day who has fallen on hard times, or how I can help someone in a difficult situation, or even just stopping to visit someone who needs company. But then life gets in the way, and I don’t always follow through. Nonna always made the gesture. ALWAYS. She would always follow through. I’ll never forgot how she treated my other grandmother, my dad’s mom, when her health started to fail. She would take her out for coffee, take her to run her errands, or just keep her company. And we don’t realize how much those little gestures mean; how they brighten someone’s day and truly make a difference in someone’s life. When my mom’s dear friend, Mary Bongarzone, who grew up with my mom, aunts, and grandparents, heard that my grandmother only had days left, she left her home in Rome, Italy, drove three hours to an airport, and boarded the first plane she could get on, so she could be here for my grandmother and family. I don’t know if she even realizes how much that gesture meant to everyone, but it will never be forgotten. Just yesterday, I was outside walking the dog when a gentleman cutting grass a few houses down turned off his lawnmower and came running over to me. He said, “I just want to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your grandmother. She took care of my kids and was such a special lady. She’ll be missed.” Now, he didn’t have to do that. He could have just kept working, but he didn’t, and his gesture brightened my day. We don’t realize the power of these acts, but Nonna did. I don’t think a day went by when Nonna didn’t make a gesture and bring some light into someone’s darkness. Nonna left this legacy of love and compassion. If there’s anything we take from today, aside from what an incredible gift Rose Notaro was, it’s to make more gestures and follow through with our intentions. This world would be a much better place if we were all a little more like Nonna.

Nonna never missed an event, a birthday, a graduation. Her family was her everything. She loved to go shopping or out for a cup of Dunkin Donuts – especially with her girls. She was and still is an angel, and how lucky are we who were graced by her presence and touched by her goodness. We are all better for having known and loved her. I know I will strive each day to be more like her and I am forever grateful for my beautiful memories. A couple days ago, I called Nonna’s house, knowing I’d hear her voice on the answering machine. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard her voice with her Italian accent say, “I’ma not home for the moment.” And that brought me such comfort for it holds such truth. I’m not home for the moment, but that’s all it is is a moment; until we see Nonna again when we are called home and she will be the first one in line to greet us. As the saying goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” My Nonna, we will smile every time we think about you. We will miss you terribly, but you are in our hearts and will walk with us each day. Today, we celebrate you and a life well lived. God bless you Nonna Bella. Ti amo.


Rose Notaro on Sunday, October 13, 2019, a beautiful soul ended her journey on earth and entered into eternal rest. Rose Notaro, 93, of West Long Branch, passed at home peacefully surrounded by her daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our incredible mom was blessed with the gift of love and compassion, which she shared with anyone whose life she touched. She was so beautiful, a true fashionista; her smile and laughter lit up a room. But her true beauty was her soul. Cooking was one of her passions; always ready to feed anyone who walked through the door, and delivering her food to friends in need with such joy.

Rose was born in Vallefiorita, Italy, to a loving family that she adored. At 19, she met the love of her life, Frank Notaro, and thus began a love affair which lasted 40 years. Together, they owned and operated the legendary West Long Branch Bakery. They tirelessly worked side by side for 25 years with Rose running the show in the front and Frank baking in the back. It was a labor of love and everyone who entered its doors felt like part of the family. Upon its closing, the Gingerbread House Day Care Center opened and Rose continued to shine her light welcoming and loving the children and parents each day.

Rose is predeceased by her beloved husband, Frank Notaro, and her parents, Pietro and Rosina and siblings, Salvatore, Modesto, Rocco, Giuseppe and Maria. She is survived by her three daughters and their loving husbands, Rosanna and James Simonelli, Marie and Joseph Cilurzo and Rita and Christopher Cittadino; eight adoring grandchildren, Jenna, Cara, Erica, Joseph, Christopher, Frank, Evan and Giana; and ten great-grandchildren, Joseph, Michael, Anthony, Evan, Kayla, James, Lucy, Caroline, Charlie and Aria. She is also survived by her honorary daughter, Maria Bongarzone and cousin, Luisa Spinella.

To her dear friends, Rita Conte and Susie Chidoni – thank you for your unconditional love. A special thank you to her dear friend and caregiver, Lia, who was with her day and night for three years. Thank you to the VNA and Hospice Care who helped make our mom’s journey comfortable.

Our wonderful mother had a beautiful life with many blessings and will always be remembered as Nonna Bella. You will forever be in our hearts. Go with God, Mommy.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, October 23 from 4-8 pm at the Damiano Funeral Home, 191 Franklin Avenue in Long Branch. Funeral, Thursday; 9:30 am from the funeral home with a 10:30 am Mass celebrated at Holy Trinity Church, Long Branch. Interment will follow at Woodbine Cemetery, Oceanport. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 42, Memphis, TN 38101 or VNA of Central NJ Hospice, 23 Main Street, Suite D1, Holmdel, NJ 07733 in Rose’s memory. Letters of condolence may be sent through the web at


When Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 4:00pm - 8:00pm
Damiano Funeral Home
191 Franklin Ave
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Service Information

Thursday, October 24th, 2019 10:30am
Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church
408 Prospect Street
Long Branch, NJ 07740
Service Extra Info
Family and friends may gather at the funeral home 9:30 am

Interment Information

Woodbine Cemetery
1173 Eatontown Blvd.
Oceanport, NJ 07757
Share by: