Joan Ellen Gleason Caggiano
Joan Gleason Caggiano, one of the most well-known and well-loved restauranteurs in Rehoboth Beach, died peacefully, surrounded by close family at her home on Friday, May 12 of complications from diabetes.
“Mama Nicola” as she came to be known by many, was a Rehoboth icon for her 45 years presiding over the main dining room of Nicola Pizza on First Street. Joan loved people and had the extraordinarily innate ability to remember faces and names together. This superb combination could have won her fame and fortune had she chosen to carve out a career on Capitol Hill, but in Rehoboth it made her beloved by generations of loyal Nicola customers.
Joan knew and remembered everyone. The remarkable thing was her ability to remember the names of little kids summer after summer, even as the kids changed and grew up and brought their own kids in to see “Mama Joan.” She especially loved holding court and holding babies!
Known for her exceptional community spirit and service as well as her twinkling blue eyes and warm smile, Joan treated everyone alike—from Vice President Joe Biden to Joe the plumber. Joan was the face of Nicola’s and for generations of locals and visitors Joan made Nicola’s feel it was as if it were our own Cheers. A look at the variety of photographs of notables and non on the walls of Nicola’s covering 45 years gives an insight into the range of Joan’s breadth and depth.
So popular was “Mama Nicola” that there was even a “Joan doll” created in her likeness featuring her signature short blonde hair and then-uniform red striped shirt. Ask around town and you can find many folks still have a Joan doll proudly displayed on a bookcase or tucked among family treasures.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, on March 24, 1942, Joan was an identical “mirror twin” with her sister Janet, a twinness that would delight and confound family, friends, and even medical staff all their lives. The family moved to Penns Grove, New Jersey when the twins were ten. Joan graduated from Penns Grove High School in 1960. In 1964 she married Nick Caggiano, a union that would produce two children, the familiar Joan and Nick logo, and multitudes of happy customers thanks to their world-famous Nic-o-boli.
Prior to starting Nicola’s Pizza on June 11, 1971, Joan worked at Farmer’s Bank and in a local restaurant. But it was at Nicola’s where she reigned as Rehoboth’s Perle Mesta, taking on the qualities of that legendary hostess by treating all her customers as special guests, welcoming customers as if into her own home. Indeed, Joan was the hostess with the mostess.
Joan loved Rehoboth Beach as much as the town loved her. Her community spirit and support were legendary, a major part of her legacy. She gave of her time, talent and treasure whenever and wherever needed. Special Olympics of Delaware, where she was a volunteer and strong contributor, was most near and dear to her heart. She was founder of the Rehoboth Beach Co-op Nursery School, Chairperson of the Rehoboth Beach Easter Parade for over twenty years and prior to moving to Rehoboth Beach was a girl Scout troop leader.
She was a contributor to Rehoboth Art League, the Village Improvement Association, the Children’s Beach House, Beebe Hospital, CAMP Rehoboth, and many others. Additionally, Joan was a member of Saint Edmond Catholic Church, the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and was Queen Mother of the Rehoboth Beach Broads Chapter of the Red Hat Society.
She is survived by her husband of 53 years Nicholas Caggiano; her son Nicholas Caggiano, Jr. and his wife Andrea and their two children Vincent and Julia Caggiano, all of Ocean View, DE; her daughter Camille Caggiano of Rehoboth Beach; her twin sister Janet Munyan of Rehoboth Beach, a niece Kelly Munyan of Lewes, DE, as well as many devoted friends.
Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on May 18 at St. Edmond Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach.
Contributions are suggested to the Delaware Special Olympics, 619 South College Avenue; Newark, DE 19716.
Yvonne D. Howard
Yvonne (Vonnie) D. Howard. 68, of Millsboro, passed away Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at Select Hospital in Wilmington, DE. Born March 17, 1949 in the Bronx to the late Elfreda Liburd and the late John Howard, Yvonne’s family also lived in lower Manhattan and settled in St. Albans in Queens, New York.
Yvonne earned an Associate’s degree from Bronx Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College, and a master’s degree from NYU. After her education, she began her professional career as a teacher in New York City. She retired from teaching in 1985 and relocated to Hayward, CA. There she met a wonderful partner who died unexpectedly in 1990. For the next sixteen years she was a Probation and Parole Officer for Alameda County, CA. After retiring, Yvonne attended Bauman College, Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts School, and became a Certified Personal Chef. A significant reason for becoming a chef was that she had suffered from asthma since childhood and later in life developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and hypertension. She wholeheartedly believed that nutrition and exercise could improve the quality of life for people with chronic health conditions.
In June 2010, Yvonne relocated to Delaware and began volunteering for CAMP Rehoboth. Around the same time, Vonnie discovered the superb exercise and social program offered by the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department at Beebe Healthcare. In 2012, she met online her future wife, Dr. Nancy Kennedy, and they happily resided in Millsboro with their two wonderful keeshonds, BeBe and Bettina. Their greatest memory was spending their honeymoon in Yvonne’s ancestral homeland of Nevis, a small Caribbean island in the British West Indies.
In addition to Nancy, Yvonne is survived by her uncle, Levi Liburd, and a niece, Jasmine Howard, both of New York, her many friends associated with CAMP Rehoboth, the Pulmonary Rehabilitation group, and Nancy’s family and friends, especially the women’s softball team and those who play pickleball at the Factory in Lewes and Sports at the Beach in Georgetown.
In keeping with Yvonne’s wishes, the service was private and she desired to acknowledge the exceptional care and camaderie received from the Pulmonary Rehabilitation group. Memorial contributions may be made in Yvonne Howard’s name to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program c/o the Beebe Medical Foundation, 902 Savannah Road, Lewes, DE 19958.