By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
Long Branch – On September 16, the IAMA was filled with 200 people who were all there to remember Sherri Siciliano, who had passed away two years ago. “It was such a beautiful night, so many people showed up to remember our daughter and support the scholarship in her memory,” said James “Junior” Siciliano.
Sherri was born and raised in Long Branch and graduated from Long Branch High School in 1988. She attended beauty school and then opened and operated her own very successful salon for years in the city and then relocated to Ocean Township.
“Twelve years ago, she was diagnosed with pancreatitis, and was dying,” said Junior. She was given her last rights and then, what her family says was an angel, came to them. That angel, was Dr. David Durpree. “Doctor Durpree told us that he would like to try something experimental. He said that Sherri might die on the operating table, but she most likely wouldn’t last two days without the surgery.”
That operation and several others that followed gave Sherri an additional 10 years. Sadly, she passed away two years ago from complications from the many operations. “She was an amazing young lady, who never hurt anyone and liked everyone. To have so many attend the fundraiser was just overwhelming for Ramona and I,” said Junior.
Michelle Gray, who was friends with Sherri, organized the event and turned it into a scholarship fundraiser. “Michelle asked my wife and I if we would mind if she ran an event in Sherri’s honor. We told her that we are still grieving and she told us not to worry as she would handle everything, and she did,” Junior said. Gray, who is a member of the IAMA, knew that the club gave away scholarships every year and wanted to have one in memory of Sherri. Ss her dad, Junior, has been a member for 36 years.
“Michelle raised $10,000 that night for the IAMA scholarship fund. So, this June when we award the six scholarships to students of the Long Branch High School, one will be in memory of Sherri,” said Junior.
Every year the IAMA looks to help high school students who are not receiving athletic or academic scholarships. “We want to help those students who are paying for higher education themselves or their parents. Ramona and I will be honored to have a scholarship in memory of our daughter going to a needy high school student.”
One of the biggest supporters of the IAMA scholarship fund is the High School Class of 1970, which holds a golf outing every November. After the golf games are completed, they all return to the IAMA where Junior and Ramona have cooked up an Italian feast. “Between the Class of 1970 and the fundraiser that Michelle organized, we will have scholarships for the next few years going to those Long Branch students,” said Junior.
Besides Ramona and Junior, Sherri is survived by her two daughters, Gianna (27) and Olivia (21).