Margaret Petrone

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Margaret Petrone passed away on Jan. 30, 2016, in Setauket, N.Y. She was 97.

Mrs. Petrone was born Margaret Elizabeth Howell Pittman in Holland, Nansemond County, on Dec. 26, 1918. Her parents were Wilmer Thomas Pittman and Erma Elizabeth Riedel.

Her mother, Erma, an Elon College graduate and musician, died in the global influenza epidemic in 1920. Her father, Tom, was a career officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Margaret was raised by her maternal grandparents, Robert Riedel, an architect from Germany, and Margaret Elizabeth Howell Riedel, in Holland.

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She graduated from Holland High School in 1935 and from James Madison University in 1939 and worked as a school teacher in Tappahannock. She met and married Jerry Petrone, of Huntington Station, N.Y., in 1941. They had only known each other a few weeks before they decided to get married. The marriage lasted for more than 50 years. Together they had four sons: Robert Michael, John, Jeffrey and Richard. Her son Jeffrey died as an infant.

Mrs. Petrone worked in New York during World War II assembling airplanes. Her job was to drill the holes in the front of the fuselage. Mrs. Petrone was also a musician and played the piano and organ. She went back to teach second grade at Jefferson Elementary School in Huntington, N.Y., in the early 1960s and retired in 1985. Her husband, Jerry, passed away in 1996.

Despite living in New York for 70 years, Mrs. Petrone never lost her proper Virginia accent or genteel Southern disposition. She also maintained a keen interest in the wider world. In her later years, she was kept company in the evenings by her favorite journalist, Anderson Cooper, whom she adored. “There’s just something about that Anderson Cooper,” she would say. She was also a fitness enthusiast and was lifting weights well into her 90s. She insisted on drinking eight glasses of water a day.

Mrs. Petrone is survived by three sons, Robert Michael, of Gardner, Mass.; John, of Setauket, N.Y.; and Richard, of Aurora, N.Y.; and two grandsons, Ian Ericksen, of Westwood, N.J.; and Justin Petrone, of Tartu, Estonia; as well as six great-grandchildren, Liam, Madeleine and Emma Ericksen; and Marta, Anna and Maria Petrone. A third grandchild, Jennifer Petrone, of Gardner, Mass., predeceased her.

Mrs. Petrone was laid to rest on Feb. 4 at Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington, N.Y.