Community leader Eileen LaRuffa dies at 86

Longtime southern Brooklyn activist Eileen LaRuffa died June 23 at age 86.

LaRuffa had many roles in the community over the years. She was the public relations director and parish trustee for St. Finbar Church; secretary/recording secretary for the Home School Association and the Marian Rosary Society; and a member of Community Board 11 and the 62nd Precinct Community Council. She was also an original member of the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service.

In 2009 she received a Woman of Distinction Award from State Sen. Marty Golden, and in 2016 she received the Bay Ridge Community Council’s Hidden Treasures of the Community Award.

LaRuffa is survived by her daughter Maria and son-in-law Michael; son Dominick and his fiancée Michele; grandchildren Dominick Jr. and his wife Emily; Marisa and her husband Matthew; Nicholas, Theo and Caitlin; and great-grandchildren Nicholas, Adriana and Tristan. Her husband Dominick died in 2000.

Eileen LaRuffa. Photo courtesy of 62nd Precinct

“My grandma served many successful decades as the unofficial mayor of Bensonhurst,” Dominick Jr. told this paper. “However, she was notoriously spotlight-adverse herself. Most of her life, she barely had two nickels to rub together, predominantly because on the occasion she amassed a third, she gave it away to someone ‘who needed it more.’ She raised me. She raised all of us. She was the greatest person I have ever, or will ever know.”

“She was wise beyond her years, a mentor and dear friend to me,” said Sonia Valentin, president of the 62nd Precinct Community Council. “I am grieving her loss, but am using our funny memories to sustain me and fall back on.”

A visitation will be held June 28 from 3 to 8 p.m. in St. Finbar Church. Mass will be celebrated in the church on June 29 at 10 a.m.

“Nothing would make me happier than to see everyone from far and wide, as many as possible in attendance,” Dominck Jr. said. 

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