Joanne M. Gennaro, 64, beloved mother of Daily News Executive Editor Rich O’Malley, and daughter Christina, and wife of former City Councilman James F. Gennaro, was born into eternal life Friday after a long illness.
Joanne grew up in Hollis, graduated St. Pascal’s High School in 1969 and began her career with the Port Authority. She married Dennis P. O’Malley, also of Hollis, who graduated the U.S. Naval Academy, and they lived briefly in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
Lt. O’Malley was killed in an aircraft carrier landing accident in 1977, and Joanne brought their 18-month-old son, Richard, home to Queens.
As a single mother, she attended St. John’s University and earned her degree while working in the school’s alumni department.
On Halloween 1988, she went on her first date with Mr. Gennaro. They married in 1991 and were blessed with daughter Christina in 1995. Joanne worked as a sales representative for PartyLite while raising Christina, and became Director of Development at the Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica Estates.
Her support and wisdom enabled both her son and husband to achieve their professional dreams. Joanne inspired Christina’s promising fashion career as she now completes her junior year at F.I.T.
Mr. Gennaro served as a New York City Council member from 2002-13. He is currently a deputy commissioner at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Her husband and children, her mother, Susan Pryor, and five siblings survive Joanne: brothers James, Andrew, Jeffrey and Robert Pryor and sister Jo-Ellen.
Joanne lived for eight years with a degenerative neurological ailment, her son said. Upon her passing, Joanne made an organ donation to aid scientific research in order to spare other families from what she so bravely faced.
“Mom gave her family the gift of love, dignity and strength. With her donation, she becomes to the world what she always was to us — a hero,” O’Malley said.
A wake is set at R. Stutzmann & Son funeral home at 224-39 Jamaica Ave. in Queens Village, with a viewing from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.
A funeral Mass is set for Thursday at 9:45 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jamaica Estates.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Dysautonomia Foundation.