Anne "Annie" Geralyn Piontkowski, age 60, of Manlius, NY passed away peacefully, on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at Iroquois Nursing Home, Jamesville, NY. Annie was born on June 8, 1962 in Syracuse, NY, the youngest daughter of Allen David and Anna Lazor Piontkowski.
Annie was born in a world that institutionalized many people with Down Syndrome, shutting them away from any chance of being successful in mainstream society. Allen and Anna Piontkowski refused to believe that grim future for Annie. Allen and Anna along with the Piontkowski siblings made sure Annie not only defied the odds, but surpassed them. Annie gave a whole new meaning to the word special!
Annie attended St. Vincent de Paul Church, McCarthy School, and Henninger High School, where she was a member of the class of 1982. After finishing school, Annie worked at several sheltered workshops. She learned to take public transportation on her own, even transferring from one bus line to another to reach her job. Annie also landed a job at the P&C supermarket in Valley Plaza, where she worked for 12 years, stocking produce and other products. She was a proud card carrying member of the union. Another early highlight for Anne was having her picture taken with Sargent Shriver at the dedication of the ARC center on Wilbur Ave.
Anne loved her family with all her heart, a family who welcomed and nurtured her with abandon. She liked telling jokes; she loved the music of Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees, Whitney Housten and the Beach Boys. Music was integral in her life; naturally it was Anne who decided what station or CD was played. She would sing along with whatever words or syllables that made her happy. Grease, Happy Days and The Fonz allowed her to express her wild side. Many a Friday night found Annie dancing at OCC with her friends. She was the first on the dance floor at weddings and holiday parties. God only knows how she learned “dirty”dancing but she did it well!
Annie excelled in many sports. Swimming, bowling , and basketball were at the top of her list of favorites. She competed at NY State Special Olympic events as well as several international competitions where she could be found on the winners podium, proudly donning her medals. Her butterfly was a thing of power and beauty, especially since she was able to win without ever learning the butterfly kick. She enjoyed sledding at the reservoir and even tried roller and ice skating, not necessarily her sisters’ best ideas. When Annie turned 16, like most teens, guess who wanted to drive a car? She got that opportunity; an experience that was never repeated.
When Anne wasn't participating in athletic events she was attending them, watching her nephews and nieces play soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. She was known for her passionate cheers for her family members, and maybe one or two jeers at the game officials! A proud and protective Aunt she was. God forbid a game official make a “wrong call” against a nephew, niece, brother or sister!
In later years, Anne enjoyed watching Yankee baseball on TV, while continuing her lifelong joy of coloring with her crayons while shouting her disagreement with game officials. Additionally, she could never understand why anyone would want to watch a football game in the fall when there was always a Yankee game to be found on tv. This resulted in a few heated words being spoken between Anne and the football fans in the room.
There was a bit of wanderlust in Anne. She enjoyed traveling to Florida, New Jersey, and Alabama with her parents. Later, there were trips to France and the Czech republic, plus numerous trips to Maryland. Two weeks every summer Anne enjoyed blasting Lionel Ritchie on the drive to Ocean City, Maryland, digging in the sand, and body surfing in the wave. Of course, there was Anne’s annual swim that started in Ocean City, and drifted toward Dewey Beach. Perhaps Anne’s favorite trip was traveling to New York City to watch her beloved Yankees play a game.
After retirement, Anne enjoyed her days at Liberty Day Hab, an adult program that offered its clients a place to hang out with friends and staff. She delivered meals on wheels, worked in a local thrift shop, walked in the mall, visited local libraries and attended the annual NY state fair. No Friday was complete without her trip to Burger King. Annie would never say no to a coffee and donut, on any day of the week.
Anne is predeceased by her parents, Allen and Anna Piontkowski, her maternal grandparents, Charles and Mary Lazor, and her paternal grandparents, Alexander and Josephine Piontkowksi.
She is survived by her siblings: Allen(Susie), Marie(John R) Pennisi, Chris (Ron) Ungerer, Richard (Brenda) Piontkowski, John (Laura Parker) , and Joe (Natalie). She also leaves behind fifteen nieces and nephews: Amy, Christie, Jodi, Barry, Betsy, Dennis, Matthew, Sarah, Scott, Jennifer, Jessica, Emily, Nicole, Danielle, and Gabrielle. Anne taught them how to have fun, appreciate differences, spread love, laughter and kindness. Anne was an example of a life lived with courage and empathy, a life of triumph. Her legacy continues on through the lives of her 18 grand nephews and grand nieces. Anne is also survived by her beloved Aunt Irene, Uncle Frank, and the Petrauskas children.
A special thanks to Dr. Oana Manta and Dr. McMinn at Crouse Hospital, and the third floor staff at Iroquois Nursing Home. Thanks to Spaulding Pray (AccessCNY)staff for providing support at the beginning of Anne’s independent journey. To Delphine Corradino (ARC) and Steve Dooley (Liberty Day Hab), for not only setting goals for Annie to achieve but also for being available to address family concerns. Thank you to the friends of Anne’s nieces and nephews who included her in whatever they were doing whether it was watching TV, listening to music, or playing a game. From elementary school to college, your acceptance of Anne encouraged her to grow and flourish. You held a special spot in Anne’s heart and in the heart of her entire family.
A celebration of life memorial for Anne will be held Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 11am at the Edward J. Ryan and Son Funeral Home, 3180 Bellevue Ave. Calling hour will be 10-11am prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, DeWitt, NY.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ARC of Onondaga Foundation, 600 South Wilber Avenue, Syracuse NY 13204 or ACCESS CNY 1603 Court Street Syracuse NY 13208. On the memo line of the check please add: Residential Services.