It is with profound sadness that we announce Kathleen Giuffra Comini lost her valiant battle with Parkinson’s, passing away on July 11, 2023. Kathleen was born on April 28, 1940, at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, NJ to Dr. Frank and Mrs. Ethel Giuffra. Kathleen enjoyed a raucous childhood with her four siblings in Montclair, NJ. In the early 60s, after attending Immaculata College in Washington DC, she moved to Manhattan to start her career as a graphic designer. While living in New York City, she met Alberto R. Comini at a luncheon at her parents’ house. Despite language barriers and some hesitations, she agreed to at least give him a chance. When he showed up for that first date with a bag of groceries, Kathleen’s roommate said, “you can’t let this one go.” Needless to say, she fell head over heels and her life was forever changed. (And not just because of the groceries.) Within fourteen months, Alberto and Kathleen would be married and remain so for the next 55 years until his death in 2017.
After a brief time as newlyweds in the Bronx, Kathleen and Alberto moved to Montclair where they started a family and she helped him run his new business, OMNIA Industries, Inc. There, with most of the Giuffra family nearby, Kathleen gave birth to the other loves of her life: Denyse, Jennifer and Alexander.
In addition to her graphic design background, Kathleen was an accomplished classical pianist and eventually received her Master’s in Musicology from Hunter College in New York City. Music was essential to Kathleen’s life and personality. Not only did she passionately study, teach, perform and write about music, it became integral to the Comini family’s social life. Over the years, Kathleen and Alberto had season tickets to the opera; were involved with the New School for the Arts; and attended many jazz and classical performances. Kathleen eventually served on the Board of Advisors at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.
If you knew Kathleen, you knew she was generous with her heart and her time. She always cared about the well-being of youth. For almost twenty years, she volunteered with the Division of Youth and Family Services, overseeing foster placement and then working on the finalization of adoptions. She also simply loved being available for her kids and their friends; the door to her home was always open.
Kathleen and Alberto were adventurous and loved to travel. In Rome, Italy, they would spend time with Alberto’s dear family, which included his sister, Paola, and his brother, Piero, and their families. They also spent days filled with friends, sun, water, sand, laughter and love in Montauk, NY in their family home. They could be found many late afternoons on the beach, playing chess and debating any topic over a glass of wine. Kathleen was happiest when their children and grandchildren would join them there.
It is impossible to capture in a few sentences the depth of who Kathleen was. She was a lifelong learner. She was intelligent, compassionate, and fun. She was an extraordinary mixture of grace and humanity. She cherished her friendships. She was an amazing wife, mom and Nonna, and brought joy and laughter into her family. Her legacy was knowing her and having the privilege of loving her. She made you a better person. She helped you rise to your better angels.
Kathleen is survived by her three children and their spouses: Denyse P. Comini; Jennifer C. Caldarella and husband John; Alexander G. Comini and wife Stacey; her beloved seven grandchildren: Emily and Andrew Becker; Nicholas and Francesca Caldarella; and Matthew, Adria and Justin Comini; her siblings: Carol Boeckel; Peter Giuffra; James Giuffra; and their families. Kathleen was predeceased by her beloved husband, Alberto; her parents, Frank and Ethel Giuffra; and her sister, Mary Ellen Falck.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to Human Needs Food Pantry, (humanneedsfoodpantry.org) and Toni's Kitchen (toniskitchen.org), both located in Montclair, NJ. Kathleen and Alberto were ardent supporters of both and there is so much need.