Helen “Betty” Kotos, 92, of Bridgeport died peacefully in her home on March 9, 2021. Betty was born to James “Jimmy” Dunn and Violet Ruffalo in Bronx, NY on January 5, 1929.
She grew up in Mount Vernon and Poughkeepsie, NY before moving to Stamford, where she would meet the love of her life, Andrew “Andy” Kotos. She was 19 and he was 21 when they married at St. Benedict’s Church. They found a rent in a building on Lawn Avenue, where they would have their first two children Linda Jean and Thomas.
One day, while reading The Advocate, Helen saw an ad reading “Lots for Sale” in the Springdale section of Stamford. She went with a neighbor to take a look and found swamp land, but it was reasonable and the legacy of 23 Marian Street began, as they filled the land with fly ash and dirt and built their house by hand with the help of friends and family. They moved in Christmas Eve with just enough money to buy a Christmas Tree. A few years later, they blessed with a “surprise,” a son named Danny. The home would be the site of many celebrations: holidays… birthdays… marriages… anniversaries and the births of 11 grandchildren. The Fourth of July picnics and pool parties were Epic, with fireworks in the street, enjoyed by neighbors, friends, and family.
When Danny started school, Betty began working at Bloomingdales to save for “extras” the family might like… starting with a pool. It was at Bloomingdales, Betty began her long love of dishes and service ware. She worked there 23 years before joining Andy in retirement.
They were inseparable as they went on their drives to Cove Island, clamming in Darien, tag saling on the weekends, and shopping at Grade A and Bon Giorno. They enjoyed chopping and stacking wood during summers, doing a little at a time, before sitting on the back porch to have a drink. They loved cooking for their family. When grandma wasn’t baking one of her famous cakes, they were cooking Greens and Beans, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Red or White clam sauces and chowders for family, friends, and whoever stopped by. There was always a laugh, a handshake, and endless food. Everybody was welcomed and nobody ever left hungry!
It seemed that the good times would last forever, but Betty lost Andy way too soon. She eventually moved to Bridgeport, settling into a condo in Black Rock, embracing her new community watching baseball games from her Top floor balcony, going on walks to the beach with her grandson Joshua, watching Christmas Tree Lightings and Black Rock Day Parades, and enjoying the wood pit at Danny’s house. Everyone knew and loved “Grandma Kotos.” She considered one of the best things of her move to be her new best friend Shirley Manzo, who loved going out and shopping as much as she did.
Over the years, her family grew. Grandchildren married. Great-Grandchildren were born. Her heart just seemed to grow bigger. The love for her family was palpable with a smile and a hug. She was proud of every member. Family squabbles and disagreements never got her down. She modeled forgiveness and grace in every situation. She was a true matriarch who was much loved and will be missed.
Her legacy is the family she leaves behind: her children Linda (Rich) Licarie, Tom, and Dan; grandchildren Vincent, Thomas, Timothy, Jeffery, Kevin, Christine, Catherine, Cynthia, Brian, Joshua, and Sarah, 7 great grandchildren (with 2 more on the way…) and 4 step great-grandchildren. She also leaves a brother James Dunn of Florida.
She is predeceased by her loving husband Andy, her father Jimmy and her stepmother Myrtle Dunn, her mother Violet and stepfather John Ruffalo, her sisters Ethel, Mary, and Barbara, and her dear shopping buddy Shirley Manzo.
The family would like to thank the many nurses and aides that assisted her over recent years: Althea, Nicki, Ryan, and her hospice aide Cindy, who kept her spirits up during the latter part of her illness. All of you made her smile, gave her dignity, and a continued quality of life.
Funeral and Burial will be private. A Celebration of Life is to be announced. Donations may be made to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.
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