She was so private about her life that no one outside her family knew her age. But anyone who knew Maureen Mercogliano, the office manager of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, knew one thing: She was passionate about all things Freeport. Mercogliano died of cancer on Dec. 27.
During her 16 years at the chamber, she was an avid liaison with the village of Freeport, the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County and New York state. She worked diligently to ensure that the Chamber was actively engaged with its members, and hosted ribbon-cuttings to welcome new members and businesses to the community. Mercogliano worked with every committee chair, and planned fundraisers and other events, according to Lois Howes, president of Friends of Freeport. She also helped plan the Chamber’s annual golf outings, monthly luncheons and the installation dinner dance.
“She ran the office smoothly,” Howes said. “She was everyone’s right hand that did all the back work — the work that most people didn’t see. I love her, and I’m going to really miss her.”
If anyone needed to find ways to get involved in the Freeport community, Mercogliano was the go-to person, according to John Nuzzi, a past president of the chamber. “The job was not an easy task,” he said. “She’s always been there for the president, the past presidents, executive board, the board of directors and the members … She has been committed to the members with her loyalty and her knowledge over the past 16 years.”
Mercogliano waged a private struggle with cancer, whose severity her colleagues and friends were not fully aware of. “When I went to the hospital to see her, I told her I had a bottle of pinot grigio for her because that was her drink,” Howes said. “There was no change, and I knew then this was not good. It happened so fast.”
Mercogliano, who was originally from Little Neck, moved to Freeport with her husband, Vinny, and two children, Courtney and Vincent, in the early 1990s. Before she got involved with the Chamber, she worked for Columbia Pictures, where she had met Vinny. The couple were married for 34 years.
“If you know Maureen, she was caring, thoughtful and she loved Freeport,” Vinny said tearfully.
Working for the chamber became her life’s work, and in spite of her illness, she made sure that the organization’s day-to-day workings and event planning didn’t stop. Her dedication to her work was contagious, according to Nuzzi and Howes. Her death was sudden and shocking, and left a hole in the chamber’s operations — because she went above and beyond her responsibilities, according to President Ivan Sayles.
“I’m going to miss her smile,” Sayles said. “She was so dedicated, and will be missed.”
Mercogliano’s funeral was held at Hungerford & Clark Funeral Home in Freeport on Jan. 5.