Obituary of Roleta Bruzzese

February 15, 2021

Roleta D. "Penny" Bruzzese passed away at home on Feb 15, 2021 in New York City at age 99.

Roleta Nettles was born at home on the family farm in Texas to Lillie Pearl (Evans) Nettles, called Pearl, and Price James Nettles. At a young age, Roleta lost her father in an accident, so her mother, Pearl, raised her, her four sisters and her brother through the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Like other members of the "Greatest Generation," Roleta's life was impacted by WWII. She lost her brother who was serving in the military. During the war she also married the now deceased Vincent N. Bruzzese, who was serving in the Navy, and with whom she later had three children: Elizabeth, James, and Nicholas Paul.

Roleta was known to many by her nickname, Penny. She lived in many places including Meadow, Brownfield, and Dallas, TX; Seaside, OR; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; New Brunswick and North Brunswick, NJ; and finally, New York City, NY.

She was a loving mother who made each of her children feel special and supported them and their dreams.
Penny worked hard as a homemaker. Many who knew her seem to have a special "Penny" recipe that has become a family favorite.
She also worked hard at various jobs during her life, and even welded ships briefly during WWII but had to leave after being injured on the job.
Penny was very creative. Most, but not all, of her creating was done on a sewing machine. She could sew just about anything for herself, family, friends, and for work: quilts, dolls, drapes, sofa slip covers, and all kinds of clothing, sometimes without even a pattern.

She loved animals and nature. She lived in the country much of her life, grew vegetable gardens, roses and other flowers. Even in New York City, she enjoyed nature in the many parks and gardens, and indoors she cultivated beautiful houseplants, including African violets that seemed to be always blooming.
Penny loved long walks. She amazed people who saw her hiking seaside cliffs in Montauk and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary hill in Central Park in her 90s!

Those who knew her describe her as a really good woman, intelligent, strong, truthful, kind, warm, caring, lovely, and "the sweetest lady ever." She embodied "a kindness and generosity of heart, as well as a very clear head for principles" and was "helpful in any way she could be." Friends and relatives remember her sense of humor, and "how much fun Penny always was."
She was, said another friend, "loving and beloved and will be sorely missed by all those who were lucky enough to have known her."

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