Irene Delores DeLuca, nee Esposito, a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and sister passed away at Stamford Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, October 26, 2021. Irene was a lifelong resident of Stamford and was born on November 6, 1920. Irene was one of five children born to the late Jerry and Jennie (Romaniello) Esposito. She was 100 years old at the time of her passing and just 11 days shy of 101.
Irene defined a life lived to its fullest and spent a century committed to family, faith, and permanent waves. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and personified the independent woman in the City of Stamford which she loved so dearly. She was fierce and fabulous while also kind and generous. Irene became a hairstylist in 1939 and spent nearly 80 years perfecting the perm. Her colleagues dubbed her “The Queen of the Permanent Wave.” After graduating beauty school, she began her career at Jean’s Beauty but only a year later, World War II began and she quit to work in a factory – which she hated and would leave after a week to return to her passion and work at Helen’s Beauty Shop where business had been booming thanks to more women having jobs during wartime and their own money to spend. Perms were big business. Following the war, Irene married her husband Tony and bought Jean’s Beauty, the shop where she started her career. Her shop, “Irene’s,” was short-lived as she chose to pursue motherhood and had her beloved daughters Carolyn and Marilyn in the 1950s.
While she devoted herself to raising her girls, her passion for perms and her natural hustle led her to taking her business on the road, visiting convalescent homes, hospitals, and private residences, always with “her girls” in tow, forging a wealth of wonderful memories. The 60s saw a decline in demand for perms and Irene savored the extra time she had to spend with Tony, the girls, and her cherished sisters. In the late 60s, she would find her “forever” shop at Noelle’s where she became a treasured legend, giving perms until she retired at age 95. Noelle’s was her home and her clients were devoted, returning not only for her impeccable service but to visit a dear friend with whom they’d share everything, some even admitting they had made the appointment just to talk and the perm was simply a bonus. In 1977, the perm returned to prominence in a big way and remained so until she retired after 76 years and over 75,000 perms. The beauty industry allowed Irene to keep a pulse on current trends and to embrace diversity and inclusion well before others of her generation. She was hip through and through and was adored by colleagues and clients alike. Despite the demanding hours at the shop, her priority was always family and she was so deeply loved by every member.
Irene had an unshakable faith and attended mass regularly and found comfort and peace in praying her rosary. She was a voracious reader, often reading into the early morning hours. Irene had a well-known love for slot machines at any casino and playing the lottery.
Throughout her beautiful life, Irene was loved dearly by all whose lives she touched and they will never forget her razor-sharp sense of humor, sass, tenacity, wit, charm, and grace. She carried an aura of joy and a spirit of light that will shine on forever through the endless memories she couldn’t help but leave us with.
Irene was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Anthony DeLuca, in 1998 and leaves behind her two daughters, Carolyn Scifo and husband Frank and Marilyn Arkins and husband Dan; five grandchildren, Peter Scifo (Jacquelen), Jennifer Scifo Baglio (Matthew), Jonathan Arkins (Jill) and Zachary and Jeremy Arkins; six great grandchildren, Nicholas and Samantha Baglio, Jude and Sage Scifo and Taylor and Jordan Arkins; and her sister, Jeanette Zezima. In addition to her parents and husband, Irene was predeceased by her siblings, John Esposito, Antoinette Inzitari and Anna Osuch.
The family would like to express their sincere thanks to Irene’s longtime caregiver, Vera Ragoonanana, for the compassionate care she gave to Irene over the years.
Family and friends may call at the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford on Friday, October 29, 2021 from 4:00-7:00PM. A funeral procession will be leaving the funeral home on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at 10:00 AM for a mass of Christian burial to be celebrated at 10:30AM at St. Bridget of Ireland R.C. Church, 278 Strawberry Hill Ave, in Stamford. The interment will follow mass at Queen of Peace cemetery in Stamford.
Due to the ongoing pandemic the family kindly asks that people wear face masks while attending Irene’s services.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Make-A-Wish Foundation, Make-A-Wish America, 1702 East Highland Ave., Suite 400, Phoenix, AZ 85016 or at www.wish.org/donate.
The Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory assisted the family with Irene’s final arrangements. If you’d like to leave a message of condolence for the family please visit cognetta.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/NicholasFCognettaFuneralHomeCrematory.