HUBBARD, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Gemma LaRocca, 94, passed away on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at her home.

She was born May 4, 1929 in Poggio Sannita, Italy to Joseph and Giovanna Palomba.

She came to the USA in 1936 with her mom and twin sister, Yolanda, to join her father. He had made the journey several years earlier and had obtained his American citizenship. Gemma came to the USA, already an American citizen and was always proud of that fact. She grew up on Youngstown’s east Side and graduated from East High School in 1948.

Not long after, she met the love of her life, Mike LaRocca and they were married at Sacred Heart Parish on October 14, 1950. Mike passed away unexpectedly on June 9, 1984 and she continued loving him until the day she passed away.

During the marriage and in later years she had a long career with the Youngstown City School District with majority of the time spent in the classroom as a teacher’s aide.

She truly was the matriarch of the family and that was her primary focus in life. She carried on all the Italian traditions taught to her by her mother and mother-in-law. Sunday dinners featuring handmade pasta and sauce made from scratch using her own bottled tomatoes. In addition, her baking skills featured biscotti, pizzelles and pizza. She always made sure her family never went unfed. All guests were required to eat whether they were hungry or not.

Gemma leaves her two sons, Joseph (Anne Kennedy) of Mentor, Ohio and Michael (Cheryl Mohl) of Liberty Township, Ohio; her grandson, Michael (Angie) of Howland, Ohio and two great-grandchildren, Camden Michael LaRocca and Ava Marie LaRocca, also of Howland, Ohio. She is also survived by her four nieces, Sabrina (Eli) Simon of Irvine, California, Sonia (Gary) Meneghin of Oxnard, California, Linda Ilstrup of Alpharetta, Georgia and Sandy Amick of Liberty, North Carolina. Lastly she leaves her best friend, Donna Falgiani of Bradenton, Florida.  

Besides her parents she was preceded in death by her husband; her in-laws, Joseph and Cassilda LaRocca; her sister, Yolanda and her husband, Ed Knizer; her sister, Lena and her husband, William Carroll and her daughter-in-law, Anna Marie LaRocca.

A private service was held on Friday, May 26 in the chapel at Calvary Cemetery, Youngstown, Ohio. She was laid to rest next to her husband after the service.

In lieu of flowers the family requests all donations in her memory to be made to St. Angela Merici Parish, 400 Lincoln Park Drive, Youngstown, OH 44506.

Gemma’s family would to thank her doctors, Dr. Gilbert Padula, Dr. Charles P. Sammarone and Dr. Zeina El Amil, for their excellent medical advice and care. In addition special thanks goes out to Windsor Home Health Care, especially Amy and Dawn Zinni, who treated her like a member of their own family. Also, thanks goes out to Akeso Home Hospice Care that helped her complete her life’s journey.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home in Youngstown. Family and friends may visit to send condolences to Gemma’s family.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gemma LaRocca, please visit our floral store.

A television tribute will air Friday, May 26 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.