East Windsor, (Twin Rivers), NJ
Matilda Wankoff (nee Zaraya), 84, died peacefully on December 7, 2012, at home after a short illness. Once diagnosed, she courageously opted to forgo treatment, instead remaining at home where she was lovingly supported by her family, friends and neighbors. A twenty-seven year resident of East Windsor, Matty, as she was affectionately known, was born in Manhattan and lived most of her life in the Bronx.
A graduate of William Howard Taft High School where one of her friends and classmates was the entertainer Eydie Gorme, Matty was a serious Flamenco dancer as a young woman and learned to play the castanets. Later, she became adept at various Latin dances and taught ballroom dancing. She continued on stage until she met her beloved late husband, Irving, at the Harmony Country Club in the Catskills where he was a trumpet player in the band. After raising her daughter, Arlene (Napuli), and son, Steven, Matty worked as an interpreter at the Jewish Guild for the Blind in Manhattan and taught conversational Spanish to visually impaired adults, then tutored Spanish speaking visually impaired students. Eventually, she rose to group leader in the Young Adult program where she gained professional status. A woman of many skills and artistic talents, she loved music, did oil paintings and sketches in her younger years, was an avid reader and an expert on the history of the English monarchy, knitted sweaters and scarves for family and friends, and swam laps daily during the summer in the Twin Rivers pools. Proud of her family, Matty was an outstanding mother who always attended school functions while providing guidance to her children and stressing independent values and tolerance. As the family expanded, Matty and Irv hosted many gatherings at their home during holidays and special events. In addition to her children, she is survived by her son-in-law, Bob; daughter-in-law, Mariann; grandchildren, Michelle, Michael and Michelle Rose; grandson-in-law, Daniel; future grandson-in-law, Marty; and great-grandchildren, Max and Ben. Her oldest granddaughter, Jennifer, predeceased her.
Services will be held on Monday, December 10, at 10:30 am, at the Crabiel Parkwest Funeral Chapel, 239 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ. Interment will follow at Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, NJ.
Shiva will be sat at Mathilda’s home in Twin Rivers on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 pm.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 14 Commerce Drive, Suite 301, Cranford, NJ 07016 or online at
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