Josephine Lucille Eonta, 90

Josephine Lucille Eonta, of Ellwood City, died July 27, 2016. She was 90.

She was born in Ambridge, Pa., on Sept. 16, 1925, just after her twin sister, Mary, the youngest of seven, Gerardo, Laura, Antoniette, Alfonso, Frank, and Mary: to parents who’d not been in America long. She was educated by the nuns of St. Veronica School and carried their lessons and stories with her the rest of her life.

She was a product of her family, her heritage and her church–and she bore each as a matter of pride and identity. She told their stories–with all the flair and drama they deserved–and she passed them on to her kids and her grandkids. Each she loved (and, often, fed) fiercely. Most of all, though, she loved Phil, the man she depended on the man she adored. In nearly six decades together, counted their days apart on two of their hands. With him, she spent hours in the kitchen, side by side, making sauce and meatballs or frying peppers from the garden. They built their home, their family and their traditions. They built so much with those four hands.

Later, they built a devotion to the Steelers, too: Josie, pacing in the hallway on Sunday afternoons, a Terrible Towel around her neck and rosary beads in her hands. And Phil, watching the game from his comfy chair with the volume cranked up. And then there was bingo, nearly every day of the week–at the Golden Agers, at Holy Redeemer, at the Ambridge Legion and North Sewickley fire hall–always the first ones to get there, and the last ones to leave.

They raised their children–Damian (Taryn), Joetta (Jim), Phil (Nanette) and Toni (Scott)–to understand that family came first and food was how you showed them you loved them. Her kitchen was spotless (you could eat off the floor) and her freezer a library of pasta and pizza and cookies and crust. An afternoon in her company could make a person fairly certain that a life well-lived meant hands greased in olive oil and crushed tomatoes up to your elbows. She created Sunday suppers and five-course Thanksgivings that would make the table groan, and it was a lucky grandkid (or anyone, for that matter) who showed up in her kitchen when buns were baking.

She adored those 15 grandchildren–every one a cuguzza–and later, her six great-grandchildren, too: Kisses all over and hugs to take the breath out of you, whether you’re three months old or 30 years. From Josie (and her sisters), they learned to play cards, to sing about “Oh Marie” and to swear in Italian and dunk biscotti in their coffee by the time they were in grade school. For them, she was all joy and warmth and that loud, singing chaos only an Italian grandma with hard-working hands still soft as a lamb’s ear can bring to a child.

A private visitation for Josephine’s family will be held on Friday in the Samuel Teolis Funeral Home, Inc. and Cremation Services. Family and friends are invited to attend a mass of Christian burial which will be held on Friday at 1:30 pm in the Holy Redeemer Church with Father Zachary Galiyas officiating. Memorial contributions in Mrs. Eonta’s name may be made to the American Heart Association or to the American Cancer Society.

The family requests you view the obituary and sign the guestbook at

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