Norma Teresa Graefe Celentano, of West Chester, PA passed away on September 5, 2022 at age 95.
Born April 4, 1927, in her family home on Florence Avenue in the Morris Cove neighborhood of New Haven, CT, Norma was the daughter of Arthur John Graefe and Rose Sebastianello Graefe.
Norma exuded and instilled in those around her a love of learning, a selfless care for others, a capacity for deep listening and encouragement, and an optimistic perspective, no matter the circumstances. Her greatest joy was her 17 grandchildren with whom she spent countless hours. Always open to exploring new things, she had the good fortune to live on both American coasts and explore Europe. Norma enjoyed cooking for her family, writing, painting, and photography. She even did some stand-up comedy in her 50’s. Most of all, Norma will be remembered as a beloved mother and grandmother.
In New Haven, Norma attended Nathan Hale Elementary School, graduated from Hillhouse High School, and completed her Associate Degree at Larson Junior College. Remarkably, as a high school student during World War II, she stood watch on top of a blacked-out building overlooking New Haven Harbor to identify and report any enemy activity. After college, she worked as a medical technologist in New Haven and in New Brunswick, NJ.
Norma married Vincent Dominic Celentano, PhD on August 19, 1950. Norma and Vince had three children in Connecticut, Daniel, Michael, and Paul; two children in California, John and Teresa; and two children in Pennsylvania, Anthony and James.
When her youngest child entered first grade, Norma began a second career at the National Liberty Insurance Company where she worked for over 25 years until her retirement at age 70. At National Liberty, she earned multiple certifications and awards and worked in a range of capacities, including as an underwriter.
Norma is survived by her sister, Janet Graefe Lyons, and her children, Daniel Celentano, Paul (Carolyn) Celentano, John (Jane) Celentano, Teresa (Stan) Mendoza, Anthony (Donna) Celentano, and James (Mikal) Celentano, and her 17 grandchildren: Katharine, Christina, David, Alyssa, Michael, Nancy, Irina, Maggie, Matthew, Isabelle, George, Luke, Clara, Abby, Jack Norman, Nate, and Teddy.
Norma was predeceased by her husband, Vincent Celentano; son, Michael Celentano; parents, Arthur and Rose Graefe; and sister, Evelyn Ryan.
Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate her life. Visitation will be on Saturday, September 10, from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm at DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc., 410 North Church St., West Chester, PA 19380. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1:00 pm at SS. Peter & Paul Church, 1325 East Boot Road, West Chester, PA 19380, where she was a parishioner since its founding. Following Mass, interment will be at St. Agnes Cemetery, 1050 Pottstown Pike, West Chester, PA 19380.
Donations in her memory may be made to any of the following: Paoli Hospital Foundation, or Chester County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or CMMB.org
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc., 410 North Church St, West Chester, PA 19380 610-696-1181; www.DellaFH.com
Paoli Hospital Foundation
255 W. Lancaster Ave, MOB III Suite 231, Paoli PA 19301
Chester County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
71 S 1st Ave, Coatesville, Coatesville PA 19320
Catholic Medical Mission Board