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Obituary: Paula Florentino (Tierney)

Paula Florentino (Tierney), 84, of Jamestown, RI, formerly of Port Washington, died peacefully on July 31 at home with her family after living gracefully with cancer for two years. She was the wife of Robert J. Florentino; they would have celebrated their 60th anniversary in October. She was the daughter of the late Paul A. and Rita (Donohue) Tierney, and the sister of Margaret M. Tierney and the late Paul T. Tierney.

She was born on June 15, 1929 in Richmond Hills, Queens, and was raised in Floral Park, Long Island. She graduated from The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica Estates, Queens, and The College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, New Jersey. She received a masters degree in Education from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Paula and Bob raised their family in Port Washington, where they began their long history of visionary involvement in a wide range of community organizations, which are far too numerous to mention. Focusing primarily on work in which they could have a direct impact on the people they helped, Paula was especially proud of their involvement with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic Lay Organization which provides direct assistance to the poor, and in Full Circle Associates, which involved working on weekends with Spanish Harlem residents to renovate tenements ultimately owned by those residents. Paula also opened her home to many in need. Through the STEP program of the New York Urban League (1967-69), they housed a student from Jackson, Mississippi while she attended high school in Port Washington for her junior and senior years.

As her children were growing up, Paula furthered her studies at the Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan, where she focused on early childhood education. After working in a variety of pre-school settings, she focused on early intervention, working one-on-one with young, low-income mothers and their babies.

In recognition of their enormous dedication to others, Paula and Bob together were named Citizens of the Year in Port Washington in 1989.

Paula and Bob moved to Newport, RI in 1992, and subsequently to Jamestown in 2003. In Rhode Island, Paula continued her civic involvement, and was a particularly active steward at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Newport. A long time practitioner of yoga, she taught for several years at Innerlight Center for Yoga and Meditation and at the John Clarke Retirement Center. Paula continued her yoga practice until her death. In Jamestown, she served on the boards of the Friends of the Jamestown Library and The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association.

In addition to her husband and sister, she is survived by her four children and their spouses; Katherine and Ed Carroll of Milford, CT., Jane and Joe Kringdon, of Hingham, MA, Anthony and Laura Florentino of Columbus, OH, and Sally and Peter Schott of Jamestown, RI, and by 13 grandchildren; Melissa and Jennifer Carroll, Molly, Jake and Peter Kringdon, Jesse, Samuel and Daniel Florentino, Emily, William and John Schott, and Max and Zoey Bathje. Her devotion to them, and theirs to her was unending. She is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.

At her request, her body has been donated to Brown University School of Medicine. A memorial mass will be held on Friday August 9th, at 1:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s RC Church in Newport, RI, followed by a reception at The Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown. Contributions in Paula’s name can be made to The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of St. Peter of Alcantara Church, 1321 Port Washington Blvd, Port Washington NY, 11050.