April 6, 2019
Irene Catarcio, née Markaroff, passed away on April 6, 2019 due to complications stemming from illnesses including emphysema and dementia. She lived a long life filled with poignant moments that overpowered the illnesses she endured in her last years here on Earth.
Of Polish ancestry, Irene emigrated with her family to Japan where much of her cultural background and linguistic influence took shape in her formative years. Her early life was comfortable, with loving parents and two kind siblings: a sister, Nora, and a brother, Joseph. She advanced in her career as a ballet dancer upon completion of her secondary school studies and immensely enjoyed sharing stories about her young adult life with friends and family as she grew older.
A first-generation American, Irene’s entry into the U.S. reads like something out of a romance novel. While he was stationed overseas, a young Mr. Morris Catarcio, serving in WWII at the time, fell in love with Irene at first sight. Instantly smitten, the two quickly married and started a family ahead of their relocation to Morris’ native U.S. As a family of three, they settled in his home state of New York. Morris worked tirelessly to serve the citizens of New York as a decorated officer of the NYPD while Irene transitioned into homemaking and U.S. citizenry, caring full-time for their son, Richard, and their new daughter Lorraine. Irene has been described as a fiercely loving mother during her children’s formative years, a parent that stood out in comparison to her peer parents as a result of her worldliness.
As the years progressed and her children aged beyond adolescence, Irene entered into the American workforce, dedicating many years to Zales Jewelers. She excelled in this capacity due to her impeccable taste in the finer things and her ability to be charismatic with customers, pairing them with fine jewelry selections complementary to their needs.
Irene went on to have loving relationships with her grown children and their father, along with both of her siblings and the many friends she made upon retirement in Lauderhill, FL. It wasn’t until she neared her 90s that she relocated to Pennsylvania to be cared for attentively by her daughter and sole surviving family member as she approached her final years. Among her immediate family’s favorite pastimes were watching her baffle servers at sushi eateries while she placed orders in fluent Japanese at warp speed, something they never anticipated hearing from a blonde-haired woman with a distinctly European-tinged accent. She also had a flair for opulent interior decor and elaborate cooking. She was an admired home cook, whipping up everything from oxtail soup to Japanese breakfast foods for those she loved. And as her children went on to start their own families, she lovingly prepared feasts for the ones they love as well.
Her roots in Japan left her with an ardent love for the culture of this country she called home, where she grew up. Her background and life was certainly not cookie-cutter. Those around her in these last years choose to remember her for her laugh, her colorful taste in PJs, the pelmini and piroshki she cooked during visits to see her grandchildren, the songs she sang to them in other languages and how she often smelled of Guerlain’s Shalimar. She was also known for her ability to be an unapologetically vibrant woman throughout her life, long before that was the standard and feminism became commonplace.
Irene was predeceased by her parents, her sister, Nora Farley, and her husband, James, her brother, Joseph Markaroff, and his wife, MaryJo, her son, Richard Catarcio, and her second child, a daughter named Arlene that was stillborn.
She is survived by her daughter, Lorraine Petrillo and son-in-law, John, of Tafton, PA, her granddaughter, Lauren Petrillo, and her partner, Jason Wagner, of Kingston, PA, her grandson, Nicholas Petrillo, and his fiancee, Amy Yorden, of Fairfax, VA, as well as her grandson, Richard Catarcio Jr. and his mother, Mary, both based in South Florida.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to charities that support research and treatment for the illnesses she endured until the end of her life