Irene M. O’Neill Dardano of Melbourne Beach, Florida passed away at the age of 81 on Saturday, December 31, 2011. Irene was born on December 11, 1930 in Ensenada, Puerto Rico to Patrick “PJ” Joseph and Irene O’Neill. The youngest of three, Irene grew up in Puerto Rico.

She graduated from the University of Santa Maria in Ponce in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. In the summer of 1952, she fell in love with Salvatore Dardano Jr., a Pharmacist who was visiting family in Puerto Rico. They were married for 58 wonderful years and have three children and five grandchildren. Most of their married lives were spent in Vernon, New York running the family businesses prior to moving to Melbourne Beach in 1983.

Irene led an extraordinary life and those of us that were touched by her kindness and compassion will be forever grateful. She was a life-long devout Roman Catholic and an active member of Immaculate Conception Church of Melbourne Beach.

Irene took great pride and joy in raising her family with her wonderful sense of humor, joy of teaching, love of animals and nature and her ever-growing sense of exploration.

Much of Irene’s life was spent volunteering as a Girl Scout leader, a Cub Scout leader, a homeroom mother and a PTA member, as well as participating in various local service clubs.

Irene loved to travel throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean Islands. She was an avid reader, a competitive golfer, a gourmet cook, a serious bridge and cribbage player and an ardent gardener. Irene cherished sharing these activities with her family and friends.

Her true passion was to have a palette and brush in her hands. Irene was an accomplished watercolor artist. Over the years, her works of art were on display for many to enjoy; and today Irene’s creations adorn the walls of our homes and hearts.

Irene is survived by her husband, Salvatore Dardano of Melbourne Beach, Florida. Her son, Kevin Dardano (Lisa) of Rockledge, FL; daughters Anita Campbell (James) of Rockledge, FL and Ellen Duval (Peter)of Underhill, Vermont; grandchildren Jeffrey, Katie, Taylor, Connor and Maura; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The last years of her life, Irene spent battling Alzheimer’s in the loving care of the Autumn House staff. Their care and compassion was unwavering and we thank you for loving our mother, too.

A special thank you to Vitas Hospice Team 184 – Meg and Cathy we are so grateful to you!

Irene was a loving wife, an exceptional mother, and the “best friend” everyone wishes for! She will be deeply missed and forever loved by many!

A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, January 5th, at 1pm at Immaculate Conception Church in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Arrangements entrusted to Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home,1010 E. Palmetto Avenue, Melbourne FL (321) 723-2345.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photos of Mom with family and friends

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