‘A cool lady worth celebrating’: Longtime Middle Village resident dies months before 100th birthday

Photo courtesy of Tom Macaluso

Thelma M. Macaluso, a long time resident of Middle Village, passed away on April 18,  just a few months prior to her 100th birthday.

“She passed away at my sister’s home in Texas, very peacefully,” said Tom Macaluso, owner of the family-owned real estate company, Macaluso Realty.

He added his mother did not pass away due to the novel coronavirus, “which was a blessing.”

“When you get 99.75 years of life, you’ve traveled this earth. Good job,” he said.

Thelma was born on July 10, 1920. Macaluso remembers his mother as “the original queen of the block,” as she lived in the same home she moved into as a young, married woman from 1946 until now.

“She lived here in Middle Village with her parents on 77th Place and she then moved right across Juniper Park on 77th Street in a brand-new house at the time,” Macaluso said, adding she still owned the same home at the time of her passing.

Thelma got married to Joseph C. Macaluso in 1945 at the Resurrection Ascension Parish in Rego Park. But before that, she enlisted in the Navy to serve her country during World War II — against her father’s wishes, Tom noted. “She was funky,” he said, laughing.

In the ’70s, she went back to work and later became an insurance broker in the ’80s. Thelma was a prolific painter, a docent at the Queens Museum, and an avid member of St. Margaret’s Parish Women’s Auxiliary.

“She was a loving spirit, never had a bad thing to say about anybody,” Macaluso said. “The letters that we’re getting, we didn’t realize how many people’s lives she touched.”

Photo courtesy of Tom Macaluso

Just a week before she passed, she worked as a seamstress at her daughter’s quilting studio in Texas.

The Macaluso family is spread out in four states — New York, Connecticut, New Mexico and Texas — but after she passed they came together to celebrate their matriarch.

“At exactly 1:20 p.m. the next day, everybody poured a drink and made a toast to her. It was wonderful,” Macaluso said. “She was a cool lady worth celebrating.”

The Macaluso family plans to continue the celebration in her Middle Village home once the pandemic settles down. 

“We’re gonna have one hell of a party,” Macaluso said, adding that they will later deal with selling the home. “We know a good real estate broker who can help her with that — me.”

Thelma is survived by five children, 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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