Jean Manzo (June 29, 1935 - April 27, 2023)

In loving memory of
Jean Manzo
  • June 29, 1935
  • -
  • April 27, 2023

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Obituary

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Jean June Manzo. She died peacefully at age 87, on April 27th 2023, in her New Smyrna, Florida home, surrounded by her family.

Jean, who was affectionately called “Yaya” by her family, was born on June 29th 1935 in Long Branch, NJ, to the late Anthony and Anna (Lewinski) Penta. She grew up in Asbury Park and graduated from Asbury Park High School.

Jean met the love of her life, John, when he approached her on the beach in Asbury Park, boldly taking a seat next to her on her beach blanket. Their love story began here, was made official on September 17th 1955, and continued for 67 years of marriage.

Jean and John built homes in the Pocono Mountains, PA; New Smyrna Beach, FL; and Oakhurst, NJ, their primary residence since 1968. The couple raised four daughters, and they gave them a childhood full of music and dance lessons, ice skating and horseback riding, boating and crabbing in the summers, and Poconi ski weekends in the winters. When the kids were grown, Jean and John enjoyed traveling, including repeated trips to Saint Maarten and Las Vegas, and a six-week tour of Europe.

Throughout her life, Jean was committed to serving others. She initiated the physical education program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Asbury Park, even serving the role of PE teacher until the school made an official hire. Jean served as the Mt. Carmel PTA president, and she spearheaded the funding and construction of the Mt. Carmel Athletic Center. She also raised the funds for the lights at the Ocean Township High School football field. Jean completed nursing school in the early seventies and spent several years caring for patients. In the early eighties, Jean ran an ice cream shop, called Scoops, at the Long Branch board walk, which had customers lining up around the block for her homemade ice cream.

Those who loved Yaya will fondly remember sitting on the velvety upholstered seats of her boxy Oldsmobile, going out for paper cups of Lighthouse Italian ice, riding to the beach to collect seashells along the shoreline, or driving through the local neighborhoods to negotiate at yard sales.

Perhaps most memorably, Jean loved to cook, especially in large quantities. Her kitchen was a welcome respite to everyone, and she frequently entertained her aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was always room for an extra friend to join at meal times, and it never took long for new guests to understand the seriousness of Jean’s demand to “mangia!” — spoken properly with pinched fingertips, and knuckles pointed toward your nose.

Yaya showed up to every soccer and football game, every ice skating event, every dance performance. She watched us blow out birthday candles each year and shuffled alongside us each Easter as we gathered eggs into our baskets. She never hesitated to pack her bags and spend days or weeks helping to care for her grandchildren, or to host them in her own home. The overnights at Yaya’s and Pop Pop’s house were some of the best times the grandkids had. A day spent tinkering in the basement workshop and rummaging through the kitchen “junk drawer” full of treasures, was punctuated by a cousin-filled Italian dinner on the back patio in the middle of summer. Between bites of Yaya’s famous meatballs, the grandkids could be heard squealing on the tire swing on the old sweetgum tree, certain they might reach the moon. The newest grand baby would be watching from a distance, bouncing on her grandmother’s knee.

Jean was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Rosemarie “Cookie” Culmone, her nephew Joey Culmone, and her niece Jody Culmone.

Jean will be lovingly remembered by her husband, John Manzo of Toms River, NJ; her four children, Maryann (George) Combs of Wyomissing, PA, Debbie Manzo of Sanford, FL, Linda (Kevin) Hirsch of St. Petersburg, FL, and Patty (Gerry) Cooper of Oceanport, NJ; and her nine grandchildren, George (Sarah) Combs, John (Claire) Combs, Jackie (Erik) Wilburn, Zachary (Jackie) Hirsch, Trey Cooper, Dakota Hirsch, Michael Cooper, Alexis Manzo, and Anna Cooper. She also leaves behind her aunt, Irene Nolan, her sister- and brother-in law Clorinda and Joseph DeSalvo, her niece, Laura Culmone, her four great grandchildren, Wendy, Georgie, Robin, and Helena, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A Catholic mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Asbury Park, at 2:00 p.m. on Friday August 4th. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Heart Association at heart.org and the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.


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  1. Joyce D lit a candle:
    15 Jun 2023
    Lit since June 15, 2023 at 6:58:03 AM

  2. Joyce D says:
    15 Jun 2023
    Yaya was one of a kind and I will miss hearing her say…hello Jerse! I’m glad I had the chance to visit with her in her final days. May God bless her and bring her soul eternal peace

  3. Patti BlakeFlum says:
    14 Jun 2023
    I will miss her! As kids we always enjoyed visiting our family down the shore. As an adult I often thought of Jean as my cousin rather than my mom’s. And yes I know she was my second cousin but I think you know what I mean. I always felt so comfortable being with her. She was a very caring person.

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