Naida Elizabeth Cognetta, 82, passed away peacefully at home in Fairfield, CT on Saturday, December 29th, while saying her nightly prayers. Born in Stamford October 13th, 1930, she was a daughter of the late Ralph and Gemma Galella Cerreta. Naida attended Stamford schools, having graduated from Sacred Heart Academy, “Class of ’48”. After a brief modeling career she studied to become a Laboratory Technician, working for Dr. Saul J. Jaiven, on Bridge St. in Stamford where she administered care to many Stamford families from the late 1940’s through 1960.
At the age of thirteen, Naida started dating Nicholas F. Cognetta, Sr., whom she would marry, after a long courtship, on September 1, 1952. Together with Nick, she would travel life’s journey, opening the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home in April 1953. Working along side her husband as a licensed funeral director herself, Naida originated the tradition of providing each family they served with a homemade pound cake, a tradition that continues to this day. Actively working, Naida and Nick raised their four children. When their business allowed, Naida and Nick loved to travel the world, both domestically and abroad. Nick Sr. pre-deceased Naida on August 24, 2005.
While her husband and family were the most important things in her life, Naida also found time to volunteer for The March of Dimes, having chaired many events and galas. As a certified interior decorator Naida decorated the Italian Center on Newfield Avenue in Stamford, for its dedication ceremony in 1968, which was attended by President Richard M. Nixon. She served as president of the Women’s Auxiliary and was an intricate part of many fundraisers and galas. In the 1980s Naida would become a Licensed Real Estate Broker, working on a new concept; conversions of apartment houses to condominiums. She and her partner, Jeannie Valentine, founded Camelot Realty, working together to sell both Hayes House and Fountain Terrace on Strawberry Hill Avenue in Stamford. Naida held her Roman Catholic faith most dear, and was a frequent communicant at virtually every parish in Stamford and, more recently, at St. Pius X in Fairfield. In her earlier years, Naida loved to bowl and was on many leagues, both couples and ladies leagues, in Stamford at Bowl-A-Rama, and in Norwalk, at Broad River Bowling Lanes.
A staunch republican, Naida was an avid watcher of Fox News. She was entirely fluent in current events and loved a good debate about politics and the goings-on of the world. Naida was always upbeat and positive, living gracefully and with dignity, despite her declining health and physical limitations. Naida leaves to cherish her memory her children, Nicholas F. Cognetta, Jr., and his fiancé, Denise Fumega and their children, Nicole and Danyel Meahan; of New Canaan, and his son, Christopher Richichi; Madelyn and Jay Pesci, and their children, Jake, Faith and Nicky; Allison and Frank Gallagi and their children, Tessa, Frankie and Ellie; and Barbara and Frank Duffin and their children, Grace, Frankie, Caitin and Mally, all of Fairfield. Naida also leaves her brothers and sisters-in-law, Rose Cognetta, Irene Cognetta, Joseph and Mona Cognetta, and Maryann and Bill Santora, Maureen Cerreta, and many nieces and nephews.
Besides her parents and husband, Naida was predeceased by her sister and brother-in-law, Madeleine and Richard Schlegel; her brother and sister-in-law, Thomas and Rosalind Cerreta; and her brother, Ralph “Junior” Cerreta; and her brothers-and-sisters-in-law, Mike Cognetta, Ralph “Jeff” Cognetta, Frank “Cheech” and Clotilda “Tillie” Cognetta. A funeral procession will leave the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford, on Thursday January 3, 2013 at 9:10AM and proceed to St. Mary R.C. Church for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00AM. Interment will follow at Lakeview Cemetery in New Canaan, where she will be laid to rest alongside her husband in the Cognetta family plot.