Cecilia Mary Kraus died peacefully in her home on Shelter Island, with her sons present, on Sept. 6, 2020, less than two months shy of her 92nd birthday, and within days of the anniversary of her husband Charlie’s passing nine years ago.
Ceil was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 24, 1928. The eldest of three children, she grew up in Ozone Park in the loving home of her parents Dominic and Elizabeth O’Gara, and was strongly influenced by the Irish heritage shared by her extended family and friends.
Ceil attended Our Lady of Wisdom Center in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and went on to work with Broadway Maintenance in Long Island City where she realized she had a knack as a saleswoman. Soon after the end of World War II, while on a double date at a roller rink with her best friend Esther Smith, she met Charlie, a charming veteran. The couple married on Aug. 7, 1948 at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ozone Park, and shared 63 years as true partners in life and love.
The young couple gradually moved their family east, from Bellerose to Valley Stream and East Islip, until Charlie “discovered” Shelter Island while on his delivery route for the Bond Bread Company. Ceil supported her husband’s dream to own his own business when they decided to pack up their family and purchase a beachside hot dog and scallop shop on Shelter Island from Charlie Stroebel in 1964.
Ceil and Charlie worked together to supply Peconic Bay scallops to restaurants all over Long Island, and built the beachside snack bar into a full-service restaurant.
Together they opened the adjoining Shelter Island Resort Motel in the early 1970s, and ran the business with their family for 34 years, serving the Shelter Island community. Ceil’s hospitality ensured that family and friends became colleagues, tourists became friends and life-long Islanders.
In addition to being a hardworking and astute businesswoman, Ceil was always a loving mother to her family, raising three boys, Chuck, Kenneth and Steven, who were by her side in her final days.
She remained dedicated to serving her church and community, always present and active at every event at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church, St. Gabriel’s Monastery, various fundraisers and social events including the Shelter Island 5K, Shelter Island Heights Fire Department Auxiliary, senior bus trips to Atlantic City and her weekly card group with friends.
Cecilia was an adventurous traveler, and enjoyed soaking up the culture and hospitality of different regions in Europe and the United States. She loved sports, game shows, and a good party, especially the celebration of holidays and special events. Her home was welcome to everyone.
It gave her joy to introduce many friends, guests, and employees to the pleasantries of the community of Shelter Island. She would always say, “We will just put another potato in the pot.” There was always plenty to go around. She was famous for her “Ceil’s Manhattan-style clam chowder,” and made delicious cakes and pies.
Cecilia’s legacy includes her three sons, her daughters-in-law Gina and Linda Kraus, her sister Maureen, grandchildren Janelle Nadeau, Amanda Katta, Patrick Kraus, Evan Kraus, Eric Kraus, Alexander Kraus, Alyssa Kraus, and Sophia Kraus, as well as her great-grandchildren Josephine and Rhys Nadeau, and Sloane and Charlie Katta. Along with Charlie, she is predeceased by her grandson Evan Kraus.
Services were held for Ceil last week on Shelter Island with close family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 or New Hope Rising, 64 Old Riverhead Rd., Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.