Sylvia J. Summa, was born Sylvia Julia Caraturo on July 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York. A lifelong resident of Williamsburg, Sylvia was active in many church, community, and civic organizations.
Sylvia received her BS and MS in Elementary Education and a certificate in Administration and Supervision from Brooklyn College. In 1985, she was elected to Kappa Delta Pi, the National Education Honor Society and served as the president of its Brooklyn Chapter. She worked for the New York City Department of Education for 17 years; first as a teacher and Pre-Kindergarten supervisor in District 14 in Brooklyn and then, at the Central Board of Education as an Education Administrator in the Early Childhood Department of the Division of Instructional Support.
An active member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Sylvia served as president of the Parish Lay Council, the St. Rita’s Society and the Parent -Teacher Association. As a parent volunteer in the 1970s, she established the school library which began as a disorganized room full of books and under her stewardship became a fully functioning school library. Sylvia chaired the 125th anniversary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in 2012-2013. She also served the parish as a Eucharistic Minister. In April 2013, she was honored with Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Parishioner of the Year Award.
Her involvement in Order Sons of Italy in America was extensive. A member for 34 years, Sylvia was the past president of the Daughters and Sons of Italian Heritage, her local lodge. As president, she was responsible for the lodge becoming co-ed. She held state and national positions with the organization, working specifically with their scholarship program and The Commission for Social Justice. Sylvia was the first woman President of New York State’s Commission for Social Justice, the organization’s anti-defamation branch. As president, she was responsible for addressing issues of bigotry and promoting positive images of Italian-Americans. She served as the organization’s National Cooley’s Anemia Chairperson from 2009-2013. For several years, Sylvia co-chaired the lighting ceremony in honor of New York’s Columbus Day festivities. She presently held the title of State Historian. She is the recipient of the State’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Children of Columbus Award and in June 2013, she was awarded the Bene Emeritus for her service to the organization.
Sylvia was a former member of the Local Area Policy Board, an elected position. In 1993 she received the Jackson Street School Settlement Association’s Woman of the Year award. She was a recipient of the 1997 King’s County Italian American Woman of the Year Award and the 2000 New York City Comptroller’s Award. In the 1980s, she received a grant from the U.S. Information Agency to study working women in Italy.
Sylvia enjoyed the company of family and friends, going to theater and playing mahjong with her friends.
Sylvia was the widow of Anthony N. Summa to whom she was married for 49 years; the beloved mother of Don and Lisa; mother-in-law of Billy Finnegan; sister of Julie Pallotta and Frank Caraturo; sister-in-law of Anthony Pallotta and Sue Caraturo; aunt; great-aunt; godmother. Sylvia is survived by countless family and friends who loved and admired her, who will miss her kind and generous spirit, her dedication to community and her dynamic personality and smile.
She died in Rome, Italy on May 28, 2014.
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