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Audrey (Steinberger) DeDonato of Dunnellon, Florida, passed away peacefully on January 11, 2024, surrounded and comforted by family, at the E. W. and Lucille Cates House in Ocala, FL. She was 101½ years young. Audrey was raised in Clifton, NJ, the eldest of Catherine and Henry Steinberger’s three children (brothers Herb and Teddy). She graduated Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ in 1940. Upon graduation, Audrey worked as secretary to the company president until marrying Emil J. DeDonato (1918-2018), of Hackensack, NJ, in 1951. Together, they raised three sons in Hackensack then Totowa, NJ, and launched a successful Manhattan advertising agency. Devoted to her family, neighbors, and friends, Audrey became a den mother when her sons joined the Cub Scouts, later volunteering to be their secretary. She maintained that role through Boy Scouts. Her home was always open to all. It was usually “the-place-to-be” for her sons’ friends, who she made sure they were well-fed and refreshed with her famous sweet iced-tea. An avid knitter and adept seamstress, she often made her own gowns. And so many still have her knitted sweater or afghan with the “Lovingly Made by Audrey (or Mom)” label in the corner. She was as confident organizing a neighborhood barbecue as hosting a formal dinner; she routinely joined her husband to entertain clients in Manhattan—taking corporate executives to dinner and a Broadway show. She loved meeting friends in NYC and taking their children to Museums and Radio City Music Hall. Audrey’s inner and outward beauty, were evident to everyone who met her. She was beautiful throughout her entire life. Always a welcoming smile, a pleasant demeanor, and a self-confidence that made her comfortable anywhere, any time. People were naturally drawn to her and she accepted them for who they were, and showed the same love and respect to all. She and Emil were renowned for their skills on the ballroom dance floor, and playing cards. She was the most competitive SCRABBLE player you’d ever dare challenge. For many years, she was instrumental in organizing her high school reunion, also using those talents to help coordinate reunions for Emil’s WW II Ninth Infantry Division comrades. Upon moving to Dunnellon, Florida in the 1970’s, she and Emil became active members of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. They literally helped BUILD the first church building. They routinely helped promote and orchestrate fundraisers and never missed a dinner dance…where she had to share Dad on the dance floor with many parishioners. He always saved the last dance for her. She was often recruited to do Church Fashion Shows, including dressing as a “Flapper”, and she pulled that off with beauty and grace. She never craved the spotlight, but instead focused on the “backstage” details required to make an event run smoothly. Audrey moved effortlessly to the role of Grandmother and Great-Grandmother in 1984, showering them all with her kind wisdom, support and genuine, unconditional love.
She is survived by her sons, Ralph (Rosemary Anderson deceased Nov. 2023); Robert and Richard (Nancy McAleer); her Grandchildren, Alexis, Emily (Joe), Ralph, Jr. (Megan), Catherine (Charlie), Matthew (Liz) and Joseph (Maya); her Great-grandchildren, Sofia, Benjamin, Julia, Henry, Wyatt and a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and their families, and countless dear friends that she has shared love, support and wonderful memories with for over a century.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 11AM at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 7525 S US Highway 41, Dunnellon, FL 34432. There will be a public visitation held one hour prior to service time in the church.There will be no repast following the Mass.
DONATIONS CAN NOT BE MADE ONLINE: Go to www.stjohncc.com, Click on Giving, Sponsorship Programs, Print that form, Check Food Pantry or write in Rosary Society (She was very involved in that) Indicate it's for Audrey DeDonato, Send check to: St. John the Baptist 7525 S US Hwy 41, Dunnellon, FL 34432.
A Private Burial will be held on Monday, January 22, 2024 at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell.