Catherine Pirrone, a former Long Beach city treasurer who worked in the tax department for more than 40 years, died on Dec. 26 after being diagnosed with brain cancer. She was 78.
Remembered for her persistent kindness and positive disposition, those who knew her said she was a beautiful person inside and out.
Pirrone was born in Manhattan and spent her early summers in her parents’ West End bungalow. By the time she was 12, she moved with her family to Long Beach.
Maria Pirrone, Catherine’s daughter, said her mother took a workforce test in high school that landed her among the top scorers. She was hired by the city of Long Beach straight out of school and worked there until her retirement.
Vincent Pirrone, Catherine’s husband, said that everyone in City Hall loved her, from city officials to tax department employees and police officers.
“If you speak to strangers, you’ll find that they’re going to tell you the same thing, and then some,” Vincent said. “They knew she was a very special person.”
Catherine was with Vincent, a former Long Beach City Court Judge and Atlantic Beach Village justice, for 56 years. They met when she was 16. Vincent recalled taking her on a date to a drive-in movie and thinking that she was “the cutest thing, and couldn’t be bothered by me.”
Several years later, he saw her in church and their decades-long relationship began. “It was destiny,” Vincent said. “I feel blessed, but I try not to be selfish about it. I thank God that I got as much time as I did.”
He said his mother considered Catherine a daughter.
“It was frustrating because I could never win an argument — my parents always took her side. I couldn’t be right when it came to Catherine.”
Catherine was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and remained cancer-free for a number of years until she developed brain cancer. She volunteered some of her time at the Long Beach Medical Center and CancerCare, a national organization dedicated to providing free support services to anyone affected by cancer.
“She would take from herself and give to people,” Vincent said. “That was the very nature of who she was. That’s what made her so loved. She was a very sweet person, no matter what.”
Maria said Catherine also liked to travel, and loved visiting the beach and spending time with her grandchildren.
“She’s known for her kindness,” Maria said. “For the way she was nice to everybody — not one person has anything mean to say about my mother. She was one of the kindest people you could ever meet.”
In addition to her husband and daughter, Catherine is survived by three grandsons. A memorial mass was held on Jan. 12 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre.