November 09, 2023

Betty Jean M DeCicco

Roxbury Township,    Betty Jean May DeCicco, age 93, passed away peacefully at home in Ledgewood, NJ.  From the sweeping Midwestern cornfields, to the Bohemian arts scene of Greenwich Village; from the traditional family neighborhoods of suburban Morris County, NJ, to the hallowed bookshelves of the Fairleigh Dickinson University library, Betty’s nine-plus decade voyage was a unique and multi-dimensional one.

Born at home in Clyde, Ohio on August 26, 1930, Betty was the middle of three children of Doris (Stout) and Glendon May.  She represents the 11th generation of her paternal family to be born in this country, with the first of the May ancestors, who were teachers, ministers and sea captains, arriving here in the early 1600’s. Growing up in Fremont, Ohio, on land that her father and brother farmed, Betty rode her horse, Lady, wrote diary entries about the movie stars of the day, and rose to valedictorian of her high school graduating class. Fifty years later, at her high school reunion, Betty was voted the classmate who had “changed the least”, due to her trim physique and dark hair.

After studying at The Ohio State University and working summers at the landmark Ohio amusement destination, Cedar Point, Betty boarded a bus with her sister Marilyn, for New York City, where she landed a job at the Empire State Building – as well as a husband, an Italian mathematician, Henry DeCicco. She ultimately completed a Master’s degree in Human Development at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, while raising three daughters, Sarah (Murray), Susan (Kovalinsky), and Julie (Farneski). Betty’s children recall with love and awe her sewing elaborate Halloween costumes and Christmas dolls with complete wardrobes, and creating treasured bedtime story rituals, while also taking on a full-time, 40-year career in the Fairleigh Dickinson University library. Her love of books was legendary; she was likewise passionate about politics, playing the piano, her pet felines, and television sitcoms. Ahead of her time, Betty was a health food and yoga enthusiast before suburban women embraced those trends.

Though Betty didn’t retire from the university library until age 80, she made special time for five granddaughters, Danielle Quinoa, Claudia Farneski, Jacqueline Murray, Olivia Farneski and Nicolette Murray. With these granddaughters, she shared individual interests in equestrian endeavors, antiques, dance, farm life, theater, animals, letter writing, classic TV and road trips from Boston to Washington DC, and to Pittsburgh and Ohio. It was with her sole grandson, Andrew Kovalinsky, who has special needs, that she was a “best buddy”, housemate, and frequent political debater and TV movie aficionado.

Betty was a young widow, having been predeceased by her husband in 1978, as well as by her siblings, Marilyn (Appelbaum) and Richard May. She also leaves behind three nieces and two nephews, and multiple great-nieces and great nephews, in addition to a host of relatives from her late husband’s family. Her life was enriched further by living with her growing family in southern California for a year, and traveling to Great Britain, France, and Canada.

Betty’s daughters, granddaughters, and nieces will make a pilgrimage to her ancestral home in Ohio to pay tribute to her long and interesting life.  Donations may be made in Betty’s name to the Fairleigh Dickinson Library in Madison NJ, or to the ASPCA.

Arrangements are by the Davis & Hepplewhite Funeral Home, 973-584-7264 (


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