Bernice Rossi of Westhampton Dunes, formerly of Garden City, died on Sunday, October 6. She was 76.
Although Ms. Rossi did not pick up a paintbrush until her early 50s, she became an accomplished artist and her oil paintings were exhibited locally in Southampton and as far off as Italy. Primarily self-taught, she eventually found teachers she loved and admired. She often told her husband that her trip to Italy in 1997, when she studied and painted along the shores of Lake Cuomo, was life-changing. An Italian art critic once stated, “Hers is painting which is developed in pure terms of this art, painted with limpid passion, and void of that maliciousness which hurts so much in this world. For her, pears, onions, vases, etc. are icons of time lived, so she puts them in lines, in a pile, in a lightly balanced symmetry—delighting you without necessarily violating you.” Survivors said she was also a sensitive sculptress focusing mostly on the female form. She maintained a studio in the Hamptons until her death and often had open studio days.
Ms. Rossi never stopped learning. Her interests included piano, knitting, bridge, mahjong, cooking and Italian language lessons. Along with being an artist, she was a savvy and successful business owner, survivors said. They said she created beauty everywhere and that, for her, hospitality was a form of prayer. She cultivated friendships with people of all ages and from every walk of life, those who knew her said, adding that her sense of abundance was especially revealed at her table. Though she was quiet and humble, they said, all who knew her well understood her as a force of nature.
Her later years were spent taking road trips to Boston, New Jersey and South Carolina with her husband of 56 years. They were best friends and lived together in their home on the bay surrounded by terrific friends and the beauty of nature. Survivors said Ms. Rossi will be missed for her sweet smile, sparkling eyes, generous heart and adventurous spirit.
Her commitment to her family’s health and happiness was an inspiration, survivors said, and she was an intimate part of their lives. She orchestrated many wonderful gatherings and celebrations over the years; a joy marker was a trip to Verona, Italy, surprising her husband for his 75th birthday with a rented villa for the entire family. She once said the opportunity to love her family was her greatest gift.
Ms. Rossi is survived by her husband, Mike; and children, Rosemary Rossi of California, Robbin Rossi of Massachusetts, Patricia Kelly and husband John of New Jersey, and Michael Rossi and fiancée Christine McNamara of South Carolina; as well as eight grandchildren, Ziming, Tian, Emma, Olivia, Ying Ying, Jack, Georgia and Nicky.
The family received friends at Follett and Werner Funeral Home in Westhampton Beach on Thursday, October 10. A funeral Mass was celebrated on Friday, October 11, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Quiogue.
Memorial donations may be made to Child Fund International, www.childfund.org.