Lillian Sheredos “Lily” Altamura

November 17, 1930 - April 7, 2022
Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, "A Life Celebration Home"
38 State Highway 31
Flemington, NJ 08822
908-782-3311 | Map
Wednesday 4/13, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
St. John's Episcopal Church, Somerville
158 West High Street
Somerville, NJ 08876
Thursday 4/14, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm

For those who are unable to attend the services in-person, please click HERE or follow this link to watch them live on Thursday morning: (please ensure you do NOT have a pop-up blocker enabled).

Prospect Hill Cemetery
69 Capner Street
Flemington, NJ 08822
Thursday 4/14, 1:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Lillian “Lily” Sheredos Altamura, age 91 years, former longtime resident of Branchburg Township, NJ, died peacefully at Foothill Acres Care Center on Thursday, April 7, 2022, surrounded by her loving family. Born on November 17, 1930, at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, NY, daughter of the late Albert and Dola Hayaly Sheredos, Lily movedContinue Reading

Tribute Video

Plant a tree in memory of Lillian Sheredos "Lily"
An environmentally friendly option.
KATHLEEN POPE left a message on April 22, 2022:
Lilly used to come in my stained glass shop in Somerville and purchase lead crystals. I have such fond memories of her. Always a bright ray of sunshine and so proud of her children. Rest in peace, Lilly.
David Altamura left a message on April 14, 2022:
Hello everyone thanks for coming to mom’s funeral service. Mom was born November 17 1930 in NYC. Her father was Albert Sheredos born in 1890 and her mother Dola Hayaly born in 1906. They were Christians in what was then the Ottoman Empire and part of present day Northern Iraq. Dola and Albert lived during times of great turmoil and experienced WWI, persecutions of Christians, and civil war before coming to America. I have been told that they were legal immigrants but that they were going to be sent back to Iraq until mom was born an American citizen preventing their return. This makes me think they were not so legal and I can’t even imagine that Grandpa Albert would have done it the legal way. In any case they were here to stay fortunately for all of us who are their descendants and have benefited from the American experience. Mom spent the first dozen years of her life in NYC playing in Central Park, going to museums, the library, and attending concerts and the Syrian Orthodox church. They were poor and a large family during the great depression and times were tough. When WWII came along they moved to Middlesex NJ which was a huge change going from the city to the suburbs. Mom attended middle school in Middlesex and then high school in Bound Brook graduating in 1948. Mom often spoke about her experiences, attending St Paul’s church, working at the Evergreens home, and at the Maxwell family farm. One of her favorite stories was how her pet chicken Cluck Cluck used to follow her to school. That was until she came home one day to a chicken dinner…. Cluck Cluck had run out of luck luck. Shortly after graduating high school mom and dad met. Mom says one day she and her mother were on the bus coming home from getting groceries at the market and she dropped them on the bus and had to crawl all over the moving bus to retrieve the items. She stated that she would never do that again so the next time they would get their groceries delivered. The delivery driver was my dad Sam and that is how they met. She claims that dad walked in with the groceries and kissed her and the rest was destiny. They were married on May 13th 1951 on a clear beautiful day. At first they lived with his family in Bound Brook where mom learned to cook Italian food from Grandma Philomena. Then they moved in with her family in Middlesex. In 1957 Ruth was born and they decided to build their own home in Branchburg moving in 1958. I think the first 15-20 years of their marriage were very traditional. Dad worked for Shoprite, mom took care of the house and Ruth. There were lots of family get-togethers to celebrate holidays, family events and Sunday after church dinners at Philomena’s. Mom and Dad bowled and Dad was a member of the Moose lodge. They enjoyed movies and family vacations. Dad was a simple guy and enjoyed simple things, Westerns, Barbeques, and road trips. Mom was clearly more sophisticated, enjoying the Opera and Ballet and church life at St Pauls. Dad went with it cause he loved mom. I was born in 1966 and grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s. Ruth and I had very different experiences growing up. Mom was very close to Ruth and very demanding. By the time I was 8 Ruth was off to college and our family dynamic changed. Mom had always been very involved in Church Life at St Paul’s but it seemed that by the mid 70’s she was all in and extremely busy. Sunday after church mom would stay for hours with meetings, and conversations. Mom also started working at the Somerville Tax assessor’s office and then for Dr Shield an optometrist in Bound Brook with her friend Thema Wainwright and she became very involved with St Johns Convent in Mendham. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad became distant during this time. Mom was focused on her activities and Dad on work. They appeared outwardly normal but there was a lot of disconnect between them. Mom spent evenings in her office journaling and dad watched TV alone or working on projects in the basement workshop. Mom loved to entertain and invite guests over for dinner and parties. Co-workers, Friends from church and committees she served on. Family events, and get together with acquaintances it seemed there was always some kind of get together at our home where mom loved to show off her cooking skills and entertaining ability with conversations about events of the day around the dinner table. In the mid 1980’s mom had a falling out with St Paul’s Church. This was extremely traumatic for mom as the church has been a huge part of her life and had become part of her identity. Mom went on a church search ending up at Calvery Church in Flemington. Over time mom became involved with Church Life at Calvery however she was more guarded in her emotional investment there. Dad retired from Shoprite in 1993 and mom and dad began to travel globally in retirement. Trips to Israel, Italy and the rest of Europe and meeting once distant relatives especially Antonio and Maria were highlights of this time as were visits to the McKees cabin in the Poconos. Mom and Dad seemed to grow closer during these years. Jodi and I met and married as did Ruth and Steve and Grandchildren Rebecca and Luke were born. Dad passed away in February 2011 and moms life changed. Mom moved out of the house in Branchburg to an apartment in Hunters Crossing. During this time, she was diagnosed with the pulmonary fibrosis that would eventually lead us to, today. In 2016 she moved into an assisted living community and finally gave up her car keys. In the beginning of her residence in assisted living mom was as always very involved in her community and participating in activities however, as her condition progressed, she became more withdrawn due to physical difficulties. A highlight of her days was daily calls from friend Gene Thatcher. Mom celebrated her 91st birthday with a lunch at 5 Circle Drive in Branchburg and then a few weeks later she was back for Thanksgiving. That would be her last time at the house she and Sam built. The last few months have been especially difficult as mom’s health continued to decline until her passing peacefully last week. As I look back on mom’s life and the person she was, I would say she was driven to be accepted and more than anything wanted to seen as influential. She had experienced trauma and poverty and was deeply impacted by it She suffered from being bi-polar with extreme mood swings including bouts of anger and depression which deeply affected her relationships. Many people made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with a rational person when she operated primarily on emotion. She probably drank too much and was obsessed with cleanliness. She was deeply religious and faithful. She was always reflecting and self-analyzing her thoughts, feelings and dreams to try to understand what she was experiencing. She was very loving and was easily wounded when her expectations were not met. She was my mom… In 1993 she wrote an essay as part of an application to become an ordained deacon and I leave you with her words…. “As I look back on my life I feel as though I struggled through crossing a mighty river and am now on the other side. I believe everything I’ve done, been involved in, everyone I came in contact with, my life’s work and commitment, my background, training and my heritage of faith and my love for the church has been a learning experience and a honing process preparing me to move forward. And one day when I stand before Him I pray I hear these words from my master – well done good and faithful friend, you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master. Amen and Amen”
Ruth Altamura-Roll left a message on April 14, 2022:
Thank you all for coming to celebrate mom’s life. And I do mean celebrate. All of you are here because my mom touched your lives deeply. I love my mom more than she ever knew or believed. My mom did the best she could to be our mother and often thought she failed. My mother had a brutal childhood which deeply wounded her and effected the relationships that both I and my brother had with her. My first memory of my mother was of this elegant beautiful woman yelling at my grandfather who had kept me up while babysitting. And yes, my mother was a beautiful elegant person. She filled her home with crystal, China, Turkish carpets, fine furniture, tons of books and mementoes of her travels with my dad. And she dressed elegantly also, make-up, heels, furs and perfume. My mother loved travel, nature, entertaining, cooking and praying. She would spend hours in her room writing and reading scripture, journaling and learning. And cutting out articles for self-improvement, which often found there way onto my bed. We cried together, laughed together and yelled at each other. When I was little, she would wake me up to watch an old black and white movie with her. “Things always looked better when viewing it through someone else’s eyes” she would tell me. She took me to every Gone With The Wind showing that used to tour around the USA. We would sit on the bench over-looking 202 and wait for my Dad to return from work, counting cars and reading the Weekly Reader. Or if he worked late, we would play Chinese checkers before bed. I remember laying on the lawn with her, studying the clouds. And swinging on swing saying: How do you like to go up in the air, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do! Up in the air and over the wall, Till I can see so wide, River and trees and cattle and all Over the countryside-- Till I look down on the garden green, Down on the roof so brown-- Up in the air I go flying again, Up in the air and down! I remember my mom with her friend Thelma, what a hot mess they were together. Late nights drinking gallons of wine laughing and crying and laughing. I remember the family picnics and celebrations, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving (Which she considered her holiday God forbid if you missed it) and Christmas Eve. Most Italian families had 7 fish... but we had to be different and have 12... one for each apostle. My mother’s thinking was often skewed. Wanting to play guitar as so many of my cousins did, she believed people who played guitar smoked pot so I had to take piano lessons. And I love playing the piano. Also wanting to become a girl scout like so many of my cousins, they went camping sat around campfires and played guitar and people who played guitar smoked pot. So, I had to joined 4-H. My mother loved trees, she tired them up and never trimmed them and cried every time one had to come down. She would say you can hear a tree moan when it was felled. She collected leaved, acorns, pinecones, shells and rocks. Thousands of shells and rocks. She collected China. At one point there were 72 place settings. Took thousands of photographs and wrote and wrote. She always wanted to write her life story, and I even encouraged her to do so. And sadly she never did. But she journaled. And Journaled. She had to write She loved to entertain. She entertained almost weekly. Always in her kitchen, her safe place, her favorite place. She spent hours in the kitchen cooking, listening to music and opera while she cooked, spent hours in the kitchen burning incense and candles which she was able to apprehend from churches. She cleaned and cleaned. I have no idea how may times I washed windows or washed her beautiful crystal which glistened in the front bow window. My childhood scent memory is bleach. She taught me to love classical music. She had the most beautiful clear soprano voice. We would clean and dance to may arias and overtures. It was always work before play.. and I must confess, there was very little play. My mother was always terrified for my safety. She wanted me to have a whistle around my neck if I walked off property, she was fearful of hobo’s living under the bridge, she followed me in her car when I rode my bike. And warned me to not take carnations from any Moonies. We drove many times across country, visited most states. We slept in hotels but ate out of the trunk, cooking pasta or steaks on the side of the road. Yes, there really is the world’s largest ball of twine. My Dad loved my mom. Again, more than she knew. He did everything he could for her. He would come home with crystal, got her season tickets for the opera, supported her desire to entertain, travel, and even go to church. My father sanded and stained all doors and windows and cabinets in the house because my mother wanted a darker color. And he took all the accent tile out of the main bathroom and replaced it from eggplant to blue. He bought her gardenias and furs and there noting my father would not do for her. Because of my mom, I know how to clean, set an elegant table and entertain. She taught me to love history and family. A deep desire of her’s was to connect with her past and she always felt cheated of not knowing her grandparents and lineage. Family and tradition were paramount. She was so impressed with her connection to Iraq or Mesopotamia. She would come to school annually to do show and tell to our classmates about Iraq. I would have strange lunches, such as stuffed grape leaf sandwiches or green egg sandwiches (Green because of the grape jelly on the eggs) It was very much like my big Greek wedding. She was meticulous in her dress and hair. Our neighbor started to sell Mary Kay and my mother wanted me to learn to take care of my skin and put on make-up. She was so elegant and wanted me to be elegant too. She wanted me to live at home, save my money and then go hang out with the Jet Setters so I could marry a wealthy man…and be elegant. She wanted me to go the All Girls School at St John Baptist Convent. However, there was not money for both that and college. But we discovered the convent. And my mother LOVED the convent. Sometimes she would threaten to go and live there because the sisters loved her. She never believed that we loved her. And I think that cause so much grief in our family. But she did so much for the convent. And in some ways became her life. She taught me to love God. Her relationship with Jesus was so important to her. She had a box of Christian pamphlets by the front door and if a Fed Ex person or such would come by they got a pamphlet. She prayed for everyone, she had her prayer box and holy oil to anoint people. She wanted to be a deacon and was in the choir for years. Her life was wrapped up in the church and her prayer life. Because of her we are a strong Christian family. I know how wounded my mother was, I know how much she struggled to comprehend that she was lovable. I believe I knew my mother better than anyone. I knew her pain and her sorrow. I knew her anger and her anxiety. I knew her love and her laughter. I knew her craziness and her love of knowledge. I knew her instabilities and her stabilities. I knew her sanity and her insanity. I knew her joy and her hopes. I knew her disappointments and her dreams, fulfilled and unfulfilled. I knew her dangerous side and her loving side. In Arabic there is a word. Illy. It means a pain in the neck or a burden. And my mother would say I know I am an illy.. and yes, I would say you are. But she was my illy. And I love her more than she will ever know. AlahMaki Mom. And don’t forget to call when you get to heaven.
Annie Hepler Wuelfing left a message on April 13, 2022:
After reading Aunt Lil's obituary about her kinship with trees I had to add this inspiring and comforting poem by Mary Oliver. It is called When I am Among the Trees When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, "Stay awhile." The light flows from their branches. And they call again, "It's simple," they say, "and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine."
Kathleen M Maske left a message on April 13, 2022:
We are very sorry for your loss. It is very clear that Lily did a lot of good for many people over many years, and had a very full life. May Lily rest in peace. Ed & Kathie Maske.
condolence-advertisement Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Annie Hepler Wuelfing left a message on April 13, 2022:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Ruth, Steve, David, Jody and all...wishing you peace and gentleness amidst your sadness. In honoring Aunt Lil...most of us probably think of humming birds, cooking, churches, the deck, old farms, pine woods...and where is that turnaround for Circle Drive?! For me, her niece, as a child, Christmas at her house (and AM&UW's) was THE place to be! All the lights U.Sam trimmed the house with, the piano music & a few talent shows on the "stage", of course the tree and fireplace...but especially the unusual ribbon candy in the pretty glass dishes. And where else could you get your own bow of cereal and watch the Sat. morning cartoons? Or learn about foster care? Or visit the dog tethered above the highway? Or burn trash: Or did she say rubbish? When I was older I came to recognize her deep faith, and that she was a pray-er, a& how much her church communities meant to her. So enter cooking & the massive amounts of food she & U.Sam prepared for Cursillo and many events. DeColores! Here I must admit that back-in-the-day I was hoping for PB&J rather than the chunks of eggplant & lamb kabobs. The grape leaves were bitter, and what WERE we picking out there on the grass? Purslane? ...another bitter soggy herb? Later, jars of her sauce & other homemades were meaningful gifts. I had many memorable times being invited along on family day trips. The stunning magic of the B&B &R B Circus at Madison Square Garden, especially the trapeze athletes, the elephants, & thousands of those flickering lights. I learned to swim in her sisters pool, explored history, toted rocks, & learned those common orange flowers along country roads were Day Lilies. Then, ...S-L-A-M on the brakes...back up..pull over, for there were woodside grapvine leaves to pick. Oh dear. It seems that her love of nature, God, reading & stillness were balanced by her exploring various types of jobs and many adventures with family & friends, "the Italians", & the Dr. Altamura. I particularly loved the fortifying poems & comics on the fridge. Aunt Lil was a great dresser, with literally wonderful dresses: polkadot, yellow, black & white, with heels and great jewelry. As a kid, I did not understand what she meant when she once stated at G &G A's Sunday macaroni dinner that perhaps the extended family "should not discuss politics, religion or money!". I was hiding under that massive table at the time, while the grownups drank the homemade wine, taking it all in. Years later I got it when we were at an event & she shouted, "DAAAVVVIDDD! We have some Massachusetts liberals here!" Well, now she is where all things are healed, understood, & at their finest. True story: My friend's 11 year old daughter had premonitions for weeks about her own death. She told her mother that she would be going to the Jubilee. Her mother was confused. Where? What? It came out that Donna explained that EASTER is the grandest celebration of all in the heavens, ...the hereafter, the Big Blue, the elsewhere, and that she would be there for it. Aunt Lil, you have arrived, & it has arrived in you! My guess is that first you said something like "Sam!!!", & are now encompassed in the grandeur of it all. Maybe there is or isn't much RIP (rest in peace" there, depending on the soul, but I like to think she has Peace, effortlessly, and is in ease and beauty, breathing well, and helping us and others along...with love, love,....and more love.
Joan Fairchild left a message on April 10, 2022:
Submitted comment a view days ago, anyway I can see it? Thank you. Joan Fairchild
Martha (Marty) Morrow left a message on April 9, 2022:
My heartfelt sympathy and prayers to Lily's family. I only met her a couple times when her granddaughter married my grandson. She was warm and inviting and had a sense of humor. We shared stories of our grandchildren. She impressed me as a beautiful person and lady and I know she will be missed.
Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services left a message:
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.
Show More