Lena Marie Cortese, 72 went home to be with her Lord on Saturday, January 18, 2020 in Napa, CA. She was born on March 25,1947 in Albany, CA to Samuel (Sam) and Mildred (Mickey) Durante. She grew up in the bay area, attending Saint Jerome’s Catholic elementary school in El Cerrito, and later graduated from Presentation High School in Berkeley (Class of 1965). After high school she met the love of her life Joseph F. Cortese, Jr. In February 1970 she married him, and were celebrating 50 years of love and commitment next month. Together they raised their family here in Napa. She is survived by her husband Joe, son Jim, daughter-in-law Chelsea, grandchildren Carson and Carleigh Cortese and brother Anthony Durante.
Lena was known for her positive attitude, loyal commitment for family and friends, strong work ethic and even stronger will. After retirement, Lena and Joe found excitement in traveling, whether in their travel trailer, on a cruise, with a group through Europe or with their newly extended travel family, John and Priscilla White of Texas to the east coast. Lena always made time for family. She and Joe would regularly meet their cousins, Dave and Cathy Cortese, Theresa and Steve Ellis for breakfast and had a long time friendship with Judy Henderson and Sharon Durante that never wavered.
Lena was a cancer survivor and her strong will, as mentioned above led her fight against long term affects of being a Diabetic. She became a double amputee in 2019 with the goal of once again standing, in order to maintain her traveling regime and to regain control of her kitchen from her husband, cooking was another one of her passions. These goals were cut short by an unexpected heart attack. She had amazing care provided by the staff at Queen of the Valley ICU, but the toll was to great for her body to recover from.
There will be a memorial mass at Saint Apollinaris Church on Feb 6th, 2020 at 10:30am. The family is asking, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Diabetes Association or American Cancer Society.
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