Reitano - Jane (nee Gaglione)
The Buffalo News - December 13, 2020
Of Kenmore entered into rest December 10, 2020. Beloved wife of Samuel J. Reitano; devoted mother of Sandra (Richard) Massaker, Jayne (David) Ruszala and Michael (Wendy) Reitano; cherished grandmother of Tara (Jeremy) Ridge, Jessica Massaker, Christina and Steven Ruszala, Rachel and Rose Reitano and great-grandmother of McKenzie, Lucus and Haley Ridge; loving daughter of the late Vincent "James" and Jane Gaglione; dear sister of the late James (late Margaret) Gaglione. No prior visitation. Services held privately for the family. Entombment Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

If desired, donations may be made in Jane's name to the SPCA of Erie County. Online condolences at

Jane attended Buffalo Public School Number 19 and Lafayette High School, where she was a member of Gamma Epsilon ('Gamma Ep') Sorority.  She was 'Janie', the younger sister of 'Jimmy Gags' Gaglione, a Tau Zeta Tau Fraternity brother, and she was like a sister to the fraternity members.

Janie and I go back a long way, as you can see from some of the material here. When we were cheerleaders together at Lafayette, there was a cheer, 'Lafayette had a rooster - they sat him on a fence!', where the girl cheerleaders would jump into the boy cheerleaders' arms.  Being a 97-pound weakling, we reversed that, and I jumped into Jane's arms!

But our families' connection goes even further back than that.  When my parents Gaetano and Rosa Alessi Coniglio moved to Buffalo in 1920, they first went to live at 18 Peacock Street, in the Canal District, only a block away from the Erie Canal.  One day in 1924, my mother was out walking with my elder brothers Guy, Leonard, and Ray, ranging in age from ten to six years old, holding the toddler Felice (Phil) who was only three, by the hand.

Trying to keep the older boys in tow, Rosa momentarily let go of Phil's hand
, and in the blink of an eye, the baby had run to the edge of the canal, and fallen in.  My mother screamed in fear, "My baby, my baby!"  A young man, fully clothed, jumped into the cruddy canal, grabbed Phil, and pulled him out, no harm done.  My mother was so relieved, she never asked the young man's name.  Years later, she would still thankfully tell the story of "lu giuvani che tira Felice di l'aqua" ("the young man who pulled Phil out of the water").

Many years later, I first met Janie and Jim's parents at their home at 212 Congress Street.  When their father, 'Mister Gags' heard my name, he said "Coniglio, Coniglio - - years ago, when we were living in Dante Place, I pulled a kid by that name out of the Canal!".

So even before I knew her, there was clearly an unbreakable bond between the Gagliones and the Coniglios, and I'm honored to be able to share these memories.

Rest in Peace, Janie.


1950 Graduating Class photo ~ Buffalo Public School No. 19



Lafayette High School, 1951



Lafayette High School, 1952



Lafayette High School, 1953
(The autograph is in the 1953 yearbook of Angie Bongiovanni, now Angie Coniglio.)


Junior portrait


Lafayette High School, Senior-Junior Prom, 1953



Lafayette High School, 1954  

Angie Bongiovanni

Ange Coniglio



Gags, Jane, Willie Tufillaro, Sam Deveso and Chuck Raccuia

Jeanette, Tom Tirone, Jane and Williie Tufillaro





The 2020 COVID pandemic postponed Jane's Memorial Mass until Sunday, May 16th, 2021 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Kenmore, New York.  The eulogy delivered by her granddaughter Rachel Reitano was a testimony to the love Jane gave and received throughout her life.

Good morning. I am honored to be giving this eulogy today in my grandmother’s remembrance. For those who don’t know me, my name is Rachel Reitano and I am one of Jane’s 6 grandchildren - and although it was never explicitly said, she did used to answer the phone every time I called her with “it’s my favorite granddaughter” although I have it on good authority she did that with all of her grandchildren.

As everyone who is here with us today knows, Jane Reitano was a beautiful, smart, strong, amazing woman. She was the daughter of Jane Gaglione AKA ‘’’’Goney’, another amazing woman. A sister to Jimmy and Marge and Aunt to Jimmy and Jeanie, Great Aunt to Ciera, Valerie, Kenny, Marissa and David.

She was a wife to my grandpa, Sam who met her one day at a wedding that he ditched his other date for, and later went on to marry her and stay happily married for 62 years. She was the mother to Sandy, Jayne, and Michael. And she was the grandmother to me, Tara, Rose, Jessica, Christy and Stevie.

Great grandmother to Lucas McKenzie and Haley.


Overall, she was the matriarch of our four-generation family. She was someone who lived for those she loved. She would do anything you asked of her. And she did a million more things you didn’t ask, just because. She was the one who took care of us, was our informant, our consultant, our seamstress, our accountant, our favorite cook. She brought us all together.

Hosted every family party. Gathered us for all the big life events like my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary in Disney. She organized travel even for the not so big but no less important things, like going to Stevie’s basketball games in North Carolina. She spent many summers at the cottage in Hamburg with the rest of the Gagliones. She raised her kids in the house on Congress Street with Goney next door, all as one big family and later on, in the house on Stillwell. Where I went almost every week. To eat dinner, watch Family Feud and do crosswords with her. She was a constant, devoted, loving presence in my, and all of our lives.

The first thing that comes to everyone’s minds when they think of Jane  Reitano was her legendary cooking. And her talent for sewing.


But to put it like that oversimplifies what she really did. She cooked for our whole family on every holiday, made ravioli for us on Christmas, took note of our favorite meals and braved the internet at age 83 to find the recipes for them online. She invited many of us to dinner on a regular basis and if we couldn’t make it, she would simply make it for us anyway to pick up or drop off. For the picky eaters of the family, including myself, and her great grandchildren, she would make us a separate plate of butter noodles or mac and cheese while the rest of the family ate pasta with sauce - despite that being blasphemous in an Italian family. She was the inspiration for Jessica’s love of cooking, and Rose’s first call when she had a random cooking question; she was my favorite food tester. She sent her grandchildren frozen    meals to bring back to college with them. And much to TSA’s dismay, she packed a carry-on full of food to bring when she visited her kids out of state. And anyone she cooked for, no matter who you were, was sent home with leftovers. In a re-purposed Tupperware container. That she carefully labeled with masking tape.

The same goes for sewing. I don’t think anyone in my family doesn’t have an item that my grandma made or personalized for them. Pillows, dog bandanas, anything Bills-themed. She made Jayne, Sandy and my mom maternity clothes, made bridesmaid dresses, made siblings matching outfits, altered and hemmed countless items for my family and the Massaker family, but for some reason didn’t need to do much hemming for the Ruzalas. She taught Christy to sew. She made my curtains for my first apartment and when I couldn’t find enough material to make them, she called around probably 10 JoAnne Fabrics across the country until she finally found me some. She hand-stitched Christmas stockings, for Tara’s family (although after the 5th one she did tell Tara to stop having kids because they were a pain in the butt). She made the mask that I’m wearing today.

These things, the meals, the sewing, will be the things we can see and touch and serve as a physical, palpable reminder of her as we encounter them through our lives.  But when we look deeper at these things that will make us think of her, what we are actually seeing, is her thoughtfulness, her kindness and her generosity. It wasn’t just food or pieces of fabric. It was the time and thought and care that she put into them, solely to make us happy. Because that is what made her happy. And my grandma did have a very happy family. A happy life, a happy marriage. Up until the end. In the last conversation she had with my grandpa. She wanted to make sure we knew that.


What I think we will really remember about her though. Is her strength, and her selflessness. She was always thinking of others. She would drop everything if you needed her, no matter how far away you were or what she had going on. She was the type of person who bought you a gift on your sibling’s birthday so you wouldn’t feel left out. She would cut out cartoons and word searches that she thought you would like or would make you laugh and send them to you. She saved newspaper clippings from our childhood and high school sporting and scholastic events. Collected and kept birth announcements, old photographs, my dad’s old jerseys. Even some unfortunate things like a poem I wrote when I was 9 and tried and failed to rhyme the words ‘caring’ and ‘understanding’. She saved all these things for us,  in organized folders with our names labeled on them so that one day we could   have them. She never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. She kept planners and  calendars with every single event or memorable date inside, graduations, communions, start dates at new jobs. And not only would she reach out to us on important days or times when we accomplished something, but she would keep the whole family up to date on what was going on with each other.


Would take the time to know about our lives, asking us “what’s new” over dinner, or on phone calls over long car rides. And when you would ask her about herself, she was always positive. She never once complained - even in the last few years when she was in pain with her back and ankle. She was such a strong woman. And it was never ever about her. It was always about her family. This eulogy is probably the first thing that’s ever just been about her.

It is a real challenge to describe in writing the fullness of someone like my grandma. One thing that is recommended pretty universally when it comes to writing in memory of loved ones, is to look to the professional writers to find something that best encapsulates them. So of course, I decided to go in the complete opposite direction. And what I want to read for you all and close with today, is the aforementioned poem that she kept, that I wrote when I was 9 years old.

“Thanks for always being there, thanks for always caring, thanks for always respecting me, thanks for understanding (See, it doesn’t rhyme) thanks for loving me so much, thanks for all the hugs, because even when you’re far away, I can still feel all your love.”


There are a lot of reasons why I chose this poem and think it best captures her. I think it’s safe to say that she wasn’t saving it because I was a wunderkind. So the fact that she saved this silly, pencil smudged piece of notebook paper for over 20 years, speaks volumes about the type of person she was, more so than the actual poem itself. The type of caring and loving grandmother she was, whose life revolved around family and whose family revolved around her.

This poem also repeats one word over and over again, and that is the word thanks. If I could see my grandma one more time, and say one thing to her, I think it would be that; ‘Thanks.’  I know I can speak for my whole family when I say we are all beyond grateful to have had such an important figure in our lives. How thankful we are for the countless things she did for us, for the people she helped us to become.

And most importantly why I chose to end with this today, is for that last line of that poem, “even when you're far away, I can still feel all your love”. When I originally wrote this, I’m sure the distance from Twyla Place in Tonawanda seemed like a million miles away from Stillwell Ave in Kenmore. But in the days after she passed when I found it among her things – when she was the furthest away from me, from any of us, as she had ever been, those words rang so true as I read them. “even when you’re far away I still feel all your love” I still feel her love and carry it with me every day, as I’m sure many of us here can too. We can feel it in remembering the things she taught us, the values she ingrained in us. Most importantly, and how I think we feel her love most deeply, is loving each other. She built the foundation for our amazing, supportive, loving family. She was the center of it. Our leader. The one we all turned to. It's no coincidence that I grew up surrounded by such caring, thoughtful, people who I can always count on no matter what. Because she is the one who taught each and every one of us how to love. She modeled it for us her whole life. That is the way we will continue to feel her love long after she is gone, in loving each other the way she loved us. We will be her legacy. And I am very proud to be a part of it. I know wherever she is, it is in a better place, and I hope she can feel our love as strongly as we can still feel hers, even if she’s far away.

Thank you.











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