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A True Albany Legacy: Eileen Amodeo

December 8, 2014

by Paige DeSorbo

One Albany native who grew up in the Pine Hills, raised a family, and worked in the city has left a lasting mark in her hometown.  Eileen Amodeo, 88, still lives in the city and doesn’t have to go far to see any of her 11 children, or 28 grandchildren.  This pillar of the community has made a real legacy with her 52 immediate family members.

The term matriarch has a whole new meaning when it comes to Amodeo. With nine of her children and 19 grandchildren still living in the Albany area, the holiday season is busy with everyone running all around. This year some made the pilgrimage to her house for Thanksgiving.DSCN0265-300x225

“I never miss an awards ceremony or a recital, and I would never want to,” Amodeo said.

She plays bridge every Tuesday from noon to 4:30 p.m. with classmates from grade school. She is always busy talking on the phone and bragging about her  family members, especially her youngest grandchild 3-year-old Louisa.

“I can’t tell you how many strangers I’ve met claiming to know my grandmother,”said Elise Amodeo, number 14 of the 28 grandchildren. The 22-year-old also plans to stay in the Albany area to be near her big family.

Elise’s father, Patrick, the second of Eileen’s 11 children, said his mother used to always say “her most important responsibility was to make sure the souls of her children were returned to heaven.” He always plays that back in his head now that he is the father of four, all of whom also live in the Albany area.

One of Mrs. Amodeo’s greatest satisfaction’s came when her babies first arrived: “To hold them in my arms after they were born was beautiful,” she said.

Eileen Hines born on March 17, 1926 in Cohoes to John Patrick Hines and Ella Hines.  She grew up in Albany at the still standing Victorian home at 527 Western Ave. The multi-family house at the intersection of Western Avenue and North Allen Street was the starting ground for one her now well-known family. She was just 2  when her family moved to the Pine Hills neighborhood.

The old family home on Western Avenue is now owned by Bruce Hungershafer, who bought the building in 1982 from Albany County. The former family home was run down when Hungershafer took over and he has since converted it into a commercial property. Hungershafer loves the Pine Hills area and said he will keep the house the same and continue to rent out to business owners.

Back in the Great Depression  the building was owned by Amodeo’s grandfather Andrew Scanlon, who  rented out the upstairs as apartments to two other families. Just across the street was Hines Specialty Shop owned by Amodeo’s mother at 1096 Madison Ave. She sold greeting cards, gifts, and baby clothes.  Amodeo used to work and help out when she wasn’t playing with the children in the neighborhood.

“We played on the lawn, there wasn’t the traffic there is today it wasn’t as commercial, we would catch lighting bugs on the corner lot and play hide – and – go – seek,” Amodeo said.

For elementary school, she walked to Vincentian Grammar School on Morris Street between Main and Partridge Streets and kept walking when she attended the old Vincentian High School on the corner of Madison and Ontario streets. Her brother Gordon accompanied her.

Western Avenue was home until her senior year of high school in 1943 when she and her family moved less than a mile away to 722 Myrtle Ave.  From there, she still walked to school and church.

After she graduated from The College of Saint Rose in 1947 she taught first grade and walked  from her home on  Myrtle Avenue to School 19 on New Scotland Avenue until she was 26 . Her name still remains at the school, her son David is now the principal at what is called New Scotland Elementary.

In 1950 Amodeo married her husband Patrick and stopped teaching in 1952 when she became pregnant with her first child Laura.DSCN02671-300x225

Amodeo and her husband Patrick lived at 285 West Lawrence St. while her family grew with all 11 children. The family realized they needed something bigger as soon as the last child, Maria, arrived. In 1970 they moved to 458 Western Ave, which is now home to the faculty of the Religious Studies and Philosophy Program at Saint Rose.

It wasn’t until 1976 after her last child was a toddler that she started working at the college as a supervisor of student teachers. She received her masters stopped working in 1998.

Now, Eileen Amodeo lives on Harding Street southwest of the Pine Hills where she moved 18 years ago, she lives just across the street from her daughter Elaine and three grandsons.  Amodeo said she never thought about leaving Albany, it is her home and growing up this is where all her friends and family were. Amodeo was emotional talking about how grateful that so many of her family members have stayed in Albany and are all so close to her.

“ I would never think about leaving Albany this is where my family is,” said Amodeo.-30-

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