Marie “Mama” Totaro (née Luongo), 90, passed peacefully at home surrounded by her family on December 7, 2020. Marie was a lifelong resident of Hoboken, NJ whose life was the subject of the Hoboken Historical Museum’s chapbook, We Were Downtown. Her life was dedicated to her family, her community, and her beloved Church of St. Ann.
A graduate of A.J. Demarest High School, Marie went on to manage her father’s plumbing business, Pascale & Luongo, before opening Hoboken’s legendary dessert cafe, Le Jardin. It was here that Marie’s desserts and love were on full display for the community. Le Jardin was a gathering place for conversation and cream puffs, and Marie was proud to have served her famous cheesecake to celebrities, U.S. Presidents, and Frank Sinatra. While operating her business, Marie took great pride in giving back to Hoboken through charitable work for organizations including F.A.I.T.H. Services and St. Mary’s Hospital. Marie loved planning everything from galas to fashion shows, raising funds in support of these organizations.
Outside of her family, her other greatest love was the Church of St. Ann in Hoboken where for over 30 years she was the Chairwoman of the St. Ann’s Italian Festival, a member of the St. Ann’s Guild, and the Third Order of St. Francis. Her devotion to St. Ann inspired tireless fundraising in support of many Church initiatives.
Over her lifetime, Marie received countless awards and proclamations for her contributions to the community from city, county, and state organizations, including Hoboken Senior Woman of the Year and Hudson Country Italian Woman of the Year. These accolades were a testament to her lasting impact. Marie was larger than life, leaving an impression on everyone she met and often referred to as classy, one-of-a-kind, and simply, the best.
Marie’s greatest joy and accomplishment was by far her family. “Mama” was the family matriarch, serving up stories, comfort, love, and meatballs. Mama was creative, quick-witted, curious and always willing to go above and beyond. She wore many hats, literally and figuratively.
Marie is survived by her daughters Rosemarie and Francine (Santiago Sr.), grandchildren Santiago (Laura) and Sasha, nephew Robert (Denise), niece Madeline, and great-granddogs Jax and Pippa. She is pre-deceased by her mother Fannie (née Macaluso) and father Thomas, her brother Thomas “Tippy” (Netta), husband Nicky, nephew Tommy, and great-granddog Gypsy. Marie will also be forever remembered by nieces, nephews, extended family and dear friends.
A viewing will be held today, December 10, from 8:30 – 10:30am at Church of St. Ann, 704 Jefferson Street, Hoboken, NJ. A mass will follow at 11:00 am. The mass will also be live-streamed. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to St. Ann’s Restoration Fund.
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