Cover photo for Lillian Esposito's Obituary
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1929 Lillian 2021

Lillian Esposito

January 30, 1929 — November 27, 2021

Lillian Distefano Esposito was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn on January 30, 1929 to parents from Lercara Friddi, Sicily. A quintessential first-generation Italian American, Lillian believed in hard work, perseverance, and the American dream—though she did not merely believe in it. She lived it.

Lillian was born a leader, both by birth order—she was the oldest of three—and by disposition. Hers was a quiet strength. With a sunny smile and a soft hand, “Lil” led her family with a steady mantra: You just gotta keep moving forward.

As a child, Lillian loved ice skating, the Babylon pools, and speaking Sicilian with her parents. A sixteen-year-old student of Lafayette High School, Lillian was introduced to the love of her life, Vincent Esposito. They married on June 11, 1949, after Vincent returned from a valiant tour of duty in the United States Navy during World War II. Lillian and Vincent were not only sweethearts but partners. Together, they ran two successful ventures: an oil company and a family of four children. In the oil company, Vin and Lil had a simple division of labor: Vincent handled the people, Lillian handled the books. An integral part of the business, Lillian was, in her way, the most understated of feminists. In the family, Vin and Lil also stood united, whether taking their children to Lake George for vacation or having Chinese food at a local restaurant—and when they needed to discuss family matters in private, they did so in Italian. (Although Vin spoke Neapolitan and Lil spoke Sicilian, they always spoke the same language.)

Lillian was the rebar that kept everything standing. A matriarch who nurtured four children, a seventeen-years-younger sister, six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and a great-grandson (whew!), Lillian was there. The people she loved were not only loved; they were under her protection. Despite her calm and unruffled exterior, Lillian’s heart burned for her family. Anybody knows you never mess with a Sicilian mother.

As Lillian’s life neared the end, her positivity rarely flagged. She was upbeat, energetic, and always wearing that trademark smile. Within a week of her passing, she continued to express the world view that had gotten her through every challenge in her life: You just gotta keep moving forward. On November 27, 2021—in the comfort of her Lake Grove, New York home, and with her typical dignity and grace—that’s exactly what she did.

Having passed at age 92, Lillian is blessed to be welcomed in the afterlife by many people she loved: beloved husband Vincent Esposito; adored parents Antonio Distefano and Tina Samperi Distefano; and precious baby brother and sister Joseph Distefano and Tina Distefano Monahan.

She is survived by a family who will never forget her: son Jerry Esposito of Miami Beach, Florida; son Anthony Esposito and daughter-in-law Donna Esposito of Dix Hills, New York; daughter Lorraine Esposito Stanton of Melville, New York; daughter Dianne Esposito Dieli and son-in-law Gary Dieli of Williston Park, New York; godson Bill Monahan; grandchildren Leigh Esposito, Robert Esposito, Erica Esposito, Lauren Stanton Lupinacci, Gabrielle Esposito, Sarah Stanton; step-grandchildren Jeff Dieli and Alexsandra Dieli; and great-grandson Declan Brando Toal.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lillian Esposito, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

9:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Mangano Family Funeral Home, Inc.

1701 Deer Park Ave, Deer Park, NY 11729

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Funeral Mass

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Starts at 11:15 am (Eastern time)

Saints Cyril & Methodius R.C. Church

125 Half Hollow Rd., Deer Park, NY 11729

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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