The sudden death of Beth Errico has proven to be a seismic event that has shaken much of Fire Island to its core.
“I have no words,” said year round resident Robin Citriniti in an ashen voice as she sat in the Ocean Beach office of Netter Real Estate the morning after Beth’s passing. “She was scheduled to take the test for her real estate license in early October. We were hoping to hire her.”
The petite brunette with dark eyes and hardy laugh touched many lives. Her love of animals brought a menagerie of shelter dogs into her life, and it was not an uncommon sight seeing the barrel chested mix-breed known as Sarge pull her about the neighborhood on afternoon walks. Beth was also a valued employee of this publication, having been a Sales Representative with Fire Island News for three summers.
Born the eldest of three daughters to Bob and Betty Errico, Beth was raised in the Fordham Hill section of the Bronx along with her two sisters. She attended School of the Holy Child, the all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school in Rye, New York where she excelled in sports, including swimming. She went on to pursue multiple degrees including a Computer Science Associate’s Degree from Monroe College, another Associates from Fashion Institute of Technology, and then her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from NYU in 1997.
However Beth was also from a multi-generation Fire Island family, and for children who grow up summering on the barrier island the lifestyle here can be very alluring. The jobs Beth worked waiting tables at various Fire Island restaurants while on summer break would continue after graduation. Such stories on Fire Island are not uncommon with bartenders, ferry deckhands and lifeguards staying on for years after earning higher degrees because they like the work, value their friendships and simply enjoy being here.
In 2001 Beth began to spread her wings and made the move to Florida, where she found work at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. She would reside in the Sunshine State for the next decade, but returned to New York in 2011 to assist when the health of her mother Betty began to decline. It did not take long for Beth to rekindle her bonds to Fire Island. In the summer of 2015 she met year round resident Jim Williams, who lost his longtime partner Carol Ann Mitchell to an aggressive brain tumor a year and a half prior. She began spending more time with him on Fire Island over the winter months.
Shortly after Beth’s mother died in February of 2018, she casually mentioned to in a conversation that she was looking for work, and this editor told her that Fire Island News was hiring. Neither one of us knew how decisive that chat would be.
“Fire Island News was such a great fit for her,” her sister Barbara reminisced. Indeed such a fit was to the benefit of our paper as well, for Beth knew the restaurant managers as well as the cooks from the kitchen, the essential service workers and building contractors who were regular patrons, and real estate agents who often got their start waiting tables by her side. Beth’s winning way with this intricate network she developed over time gave her a nimble touch when selling advertising, but it was the organizational skills gathered from her diverse education and life experience that kept the transactions solid.
As an Ocean Bay Park Fire Department Chief, Jim Williams would learn of Beth’s passing on September 16 through a pager alert dispatched to his department. Her father Bob Errico survives his adored daughter, as do her younger sisters Barbara Errico and Bonnie Lumagui. Her nephews Anthony and Riley will not get to grow up with the doting aunt they were so close to. The recent Zoom memorial service organized by Barbara and Bonnie also confirmed that childhood friends who also spent summers on Fire Island, and now scattered about the country, felt the sharp ripple from the tragic news even if they had not set foot on the beach for decades.
Beth left with this earth with business left unfinished, dreams she had yet to realize, and Fire Island still processing the untimely passing of this bright spirit.
Beth’s dog Sarge is now being cared for by Jim Williams. Due to Beth’s compassion for animals in need, the Errico family has requested that in lieu of flowers a donation in her memory be made to Fire Island Animal Welfare Society, P.O. Box 276, Ocean Beach, NY, 11770 ~ www.fireislandanimalwelfaresociety.org. A live memorial service to celebrate Beth Errico’s life will be announced at a later date.
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