Bettina (Caiola) Cortese

Died: Tue., Feb. 20, 2018


2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Thu., Feb. 22, 2018
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Thu., Feb. 22, 2018
Location: Ralph Giordano Funeral Home, Inc.

Mass of Christian Burial

11:00 AM Fri., Feb. 23, 2018
Location: Saint Theresa Church

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Bettina Cortese passed away on Tuesday February 20, nine days short of her 93rd birthday. 

Bettina was born in East Harlem on March 1, 1925 to Benni and Maria Caiola.

Three years after Bettina was born, her parents returned to their native Sicily, taking her and her older brother, Alfred, with them. She grew up in San Fratello, Sicily.

After the war, at the age of twenty, her parents returned to the United States leaving Bettina to care for her four brothers, Alfred, age 22, Salvatore, age 16, Benny, age 15 and Luigi, age 2.

In 1948, she married Tommaso Cortese, with whom she had two sons, Luigi and Benedetto.

After ten years of marriage, Bettina returned to America with her husband and children. They settled in the Bronx where they joined her parents and brothers, who had emigrated earlier.

Bettina and Tommaso worked tirelessly in a completely foreign environment, having to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture, well into their adult years.

Bettina overcame personal hardships, making the transition from small town, old-country culture to a frenzied urban lifestyle. A few years later, she lost her mother to cancer.

Ever resilient, Bettina endured to establish herself and her family in the local community.

Her family would be joined by her brothers’ families  at her home for all types of celebrations in which they would all enjoy the pleasures of Bettina's Sicilian culinary dishes. In the old tradition, she would single-handedly prepare many dishes for the pleasurable delight of all. 

The one secret that Bettina's children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews eventually discovered was that Bettina made everyone believe he or she was her favorite.

This was due more so to her ability to make everyone feel special in her eyes than any sleight of hand on her part. 

Bettina is survived by her two sons Ben and Lou, her daughters-in-law Andrea and Connie, her six grandchildren, Damien, Gregory married to Jessica, Thomas married to Rachel, Jennifer, Alexandra married to Craig, and Marlena married to Richie.

Her home was often filled with the laughter of her great-grandchildren, Isabella, Nicolas, Giorgio, Gavriel, Mason and Savanna.


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Condolence Booklet

Pranvera Mollabeqiri
   Posted Wed February 21, 2018
To the Cortese & Caiola Families:
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through this difficult time. There's nothing I can say that will ease your pain but I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and that I will always remember her with a smile on my face. My deepest condolences.

Laurel and Albert Heuer
   Posted Wed February 21, 2018
We know and appreciate the loss you now endure. We pray that your mother finds peace wrapped in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. You are now blessed with a special guardian angel.

Sid Silva
   Posted Thu February 22, 2018
Wishing you and your family peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart.
Keeping you close in heart and prayer for the loss of your beloved mother. May she Rest In Peace in the loving arms of our Lord.
My deepest condolences.

Gregory & Dorothy Patkus
   Posted Fri February 23, 2018
Ben, our sincere condolences go out to you and your family on the passing of your Mom You can be sure our prayers are with you during these difficult times.``Peace and God's blessings. Greg and Dorothy`````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

   Posted Mon February 26, 2018
Our sympathy to your family. May the God who “binds up the broken hearted and comforts all who morn” sustain your family during this challenging time. (Isaiah 61:1-2) For more encouraging words, please visit

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