Yolanda J. Hemans, “Yo,” 93, passed away at her apartment at University Village in Tampa, Fla. on February 9, 2018 – surrounded by loved ones, dedicated caregivers, her devoted rescue cat Annie, entirely too much furniture, and a Christmas cactus that finally produced gorgeous fuchsia flowers after 10 years of barrenness.
Yo was born January 19, 1925 in Auburn, N.Y., to Irene (Caggiano) and Donato “Dan” Troiani. She graduated from St. Mary’s elementary and middle schools and Central High School in Auburn and was known for her beautiful singing voice, love of dancing and sense of humor. She was a former communicate of St. Mary’s Church.
Her husband of 49 years, Joseph A. Hemans, predeceased her in 1998. As newlyweds, they built by hand their own home – a beautiful ranch-style hacienda on South Hunter Ave. – and surrounded the nearly two acres of land with pine trees. There, they raised two children, and tended to the menagerie of family pets including horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, and for a brief and insane time, ducks. They planted flower and vegetable gardens – but not zucchini, since there is too much of that in the world. They were devoted parents, and frugal homebodies who taught their children to fix things rather than buy new.
Although they did not travel much, Yo and Joe enjoyed the occasional cruise with friends Maryan and John VanDusen – cruises on which they ate too much, laughed too hard, and brought back every scrap of paper they came across as mementos of their rare time away from home.
Yo studied bookkeeping as a teen and worked in that capacity until she became a stay-at-home mom in 1960. She maintained her own checkbook until she was in her 90s. And despite macular degeneration, Yo continued to enjoy reading, even mastering a Nook Book at age 91.
“Yo Yo Ma” is survived by a son, Joseph A. Hemans of Los Angeles, Calif., to whom she left her excellent bookkeeping skills; her daughter Carol I. Cohen of Tampa, Fla., who inherited her passion for reading and writing; and her son-in-law Brad Cohen, who inherited more cooking utensils than he has room for, and were mainly unused by Yolanda anyway as she didn’t like to cook.
The youngest (and probably feistiest) of the Troiani sisters, Yolanda was predeceased by her three sisters: Carmella (Gianonne), Pasqua “Esther” (Maiellaro), and Elizabeth “Nan” (Hunter). Yolanda was lucky to have numerous nephews and nieces who loved her, kept in touch and didn’t mind repeating sentences when she wasn’t wearing her hearing aids.
Yolanda was a loving mother, devoted wife and vivacious spirit. She will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know her and hear her laugh.
A celebration of life and blueberry pancake breakfast was held in February at University Village in Tampa, Fla. – where she moved in 2008 – to commemorate her zest for life and her love of the breakfast food.
Visiting hours will be at Heieck-Pelc Funeral Home LLC, 42 E. Genesee St., in Auburn, Thursday, May 10, 5-7pm. There will be a Mass of Christian burial at St. Mary’s Church, 15 Clark St., on Friday, May 11 at 1pm with interment at Soule Cemetery immediately afterward.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, Southeastern Guide Dogs or an animal charity of your choice. Or perform an act of kindness for someone who needs it.
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