Justine Kornelussen died on March 8 at home in East Hampton, where she lived for almost 50 years. She had been ill with lung cancer for a year and also had dementia, her son, Frank Kornelussen, said on Monday. She was 87 years old.
She was born to Frank Barosa and the former Margaret Voit in Brooklyn on Jan. 14, 1926. Her mother died when she was a small child, and her father abandoned her. After growing up in an orphanage, “She left and went out on her own, and worked,” her son said, adding that she was dealt some hard knocks as a child.
When World War II broke out, she got a job as a switchboard operator for the New York Telephone Company, a job she loved, her son said.
After the war, she met John Kornelussen, who had just returned from serving in the Navy as a petty officer. The two married in May 1946. They raised two children as they lived in several places in Queens.
After a hard time in her childhood years, “She bonded to her family and her marriage,” her son said.
In the mid-1970s, after their children had become adults, the Kornelussens “scraped together their pennies to buy property” on Peter’s Path in East Hampton. “They sold their house in Queens and built the house here.”
Mr. Kornelussen would go fishing once a week, and his wife would cook the catch of the day. “She loved to cook, particularly Italian food,” her son said. “She loved to go down to the water. They loved the serenity and the quiet of East Hampton.”
At first the couple were snowbirds, splitting time between their Peter’s Path house and one in Fort Myers, Fla., but around 2000 they chose to make East Hampton their full-time home.
Her husband died in 2004 of complications from heart disease, and Mrs. Kornelussen nursed him during his illness. She then began going to the East Hampton Town Senior Citizens Center.
“She always wore a blue hat to the center,” her son said, and she came to be called Blue Hat.
Her dementia began to set in about the time her husband died, her son recalled. Her cancer was diagnosed last year. Her son credited East End Hospice with making her last days peaceful ones.
Besides her son, who lives in East Hampton, she is also survived by a daughter, Malena Kornelussen of Shirley, and a granddaughter, Juliet Kornelussen of Brooklyn.
Mrs. Kornelussen was cremated. Memorial contributions have been suggested for the East Hampton Town Senior Citizens Center, 128 Springs-Fireplace Road, East Hampton 11937, or East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978.