The Village loses its oldest original resident, Jean Tocko, 104.
Jean Karpovek Tocko was born on August 31, 1915 in Westhampton Beach and passed away in her home in Westhampton Beach on April 6, 2020 at 104 years old. The cause of death was old age and a life well-lived. Jean (AKA Babcia, Ciocia, Gram, Jeanie) was a source of love, joy, laughter and strength for everyone. As soon as you walked into the kitchen on Old Riverhead Road, you were part of her family and she expected you to visit often and sit at her table to talk about the old times.
Jean was the oldest daughter of the late Joseph and Josephine (Cook) Karpovek, both immigrants from Poland and the eldest sister of the late Charles Karpovek and Sophie (Karpovek) Karkut. Jean grew up in the family house on Old Riverhead Road and went to Westhampton middle school, but had to quit school in the 9th grade at the beginning of the Great Depression. She went to work at 14 years old to help support her family and tended the family’s garden, which supplied most of their food. Jean loved to share her stories of growing up as the daughter of Polish immigrants in Westhampton Beach during the Great Depression, the hurricane of 1938, the fires of 1995, and all the years in between, especially the summers when the house would be full with the growing family of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great grandchildren and friends, all who came to hang out at the kitchen table where she served her famous eggplant parmesan and toasted “first of the day, in the right hand” with a Coors Lite. Na Zdrowie!
Jean married her husband, the late Anthony Tocko on November 3, 1935 at Immaculate Conception Church in Westhampton Beach. After getting married they moved to Bayonne, NJ where they raised their two children, the late Carol Ann (Tocko) Verdon and the late Charles Anthony Tocko. They continued to spend their weekends and summers in Westhampton Beach surrounded by family. Jean was widowed at 40 and dedicated the rest of her life to her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and extended family. With little education, Jean worked as a cleaning lady (or as she called it, a domestic engineer) for two families in Bayonne allowing her to put her daughter and son through school. Her daughter (Carol) became a nurse and her son (Charlie) became a teacher – she was so proud of them. Jean was a constant in the life of her children, Carol, Charlie, and son-in-law, William P. Verdon of San Francisco, and was always proud to say her son-in-law, Billy, loved her and included her in everything. She helped raise her five grandchildren and was there for every memory ever made. Jean is survived by her grandchildren and grandson-in-laws: Amy Kothari (Anil Kothari) of Philadelphia, Rebecca Longenecker (Phil Longenecker) of Oakland, CA, John Verdon of Jackson Hole, WY, Sarah Newman (Eric Newman) of Palo Alto, CA and Kate Verdon (David Lee) of Marin, CA.
In the late 1980s, Jean permanently relocated from Bayonne, NJ back to Westhampton Beach to the house she grew up in. She lived there with her mother and sister for the rest of their lives and was uplifted by daily phone calls from her entire family, constant visitors and loving local support from her nephew, Chuck Karpovek, and nieces, Karen Karkut Frano (Steve Frano) and Diane Karpovek Miller (Bob Miller). The little yellow house on Old Riverhead Road continued to be the hub of the growing family and Jean helped raise and love her 9 great grandchildren: Caroline Kothari, Alli Kothari, Billy (BK) Kothari, Emma Longenecker, Charlie Longenecker, Jack Newman, Max Newman, Abby Lee and Anthony Lee. On many weekends and most of every summer, Jean was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. In Jean’s final years, she was lovingly cared for by Maka “Monica” Evgenidze. Jean loved Monica, just as she loved her family, and one could often see them sitting under the pavilion at Rogers’ Beach where Jean loved to tell everyone her age and share her stories.
Jean loved life, but would often talk of having a difficult life, including losing both her children, but her faith in God, daily prayer and love of her family always kept her strong. Her love of life and positive attitude (“you can’t fight city hall”) was a source of strength for all.
We are all thankful for Jean’s unconditional love, her incredible faith in God, her daily rosary for each of us, her contagious deep belly laugh, her resilience and determination to make every day a memorable day.
The night before Jean died, she spoke to all her grandchildren and great grandchildren and sat in the kitchen on Old Riverhead Road with her eldest granddaughter (Amy Kothari), niece (Karen Karkut Frano) and Monica. Jean died peacefully in the early morning of April 6, 2020 with her granddaughter by her side.
Sto lat, sto lat, Niech żyje, żyje nam. And that she did. We love you.
A mass and celebration of Jean’s life will be planned for late August and details will be shared with all.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jean Tocko, please visit our floral store.