She was born in the Bronx, New York, to the late Leonard and Muriel Kleinman of Stamford, CT. She was the wife of 48 years, best friend, and high school sweetheart of George Palermo.
Rita graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in elementary education. Soon after her graduation she became a first grade teacher at St. Theresa’s School in Trumbull, CT, and later at Hebrew Day School in Orange, CT.
As Rita began to think about having a family, she met a young real estate broker who convinced her that real estate was a profession that would allow her to accomplish being a stay-at-home mother and utilize her incredible gift, which was that she loved people and people loved her, while being employed.
During her 40 plus years working only for Arnold Peck Realty she became one of the most successful real estate agents in the State. She won many prestigious awards at the local, state, and national level. With her incredible success and loyal clients, Rita enjoyed going to work and helping others.
One of her favorite memories was when she was honored for scoring a perfect 100% for customer satisfaction during a year that she sold over 70 homes. This award confirmed her core values which were integrity, loyalty, knowledge of practice and kindness.
When Rita was diagnosed 17 months ago with a Glioblastoma Multiforme, she promised to fight this adversary with courage and focused on others rather than herself. After being informed that she had no surgical options on the east coast, Rita was blessed to find Dr. Raymond Sawaya at the MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. Dr. Sawaya informed the family “that he could help.” The Palermo family will be eternally grateful to Dr. Sawaya; the premiere neuro-surgeon in the world, a man with incredible hands, a man with a kind heart, and a man that never gave up.
We also give our gratitude to our wonderful nurse from Connecticut Hospice, Virginia “Gin” Hill. Never during her illness did Rita complain, and always focused on living in the moment. As Rita became more ill, she never stopped working. She found herself greeting old and new friends at open houses weeks prior to her passing. She wanted to live and live she did.
Rita’s two most important joys in her life were her sons, Jeff (Maura) Palermo and Gary (AJ) Palermo and her five grandchildren, Alex, Becca, Jesse, Cami and Jamie Palermo. She showered them with unconditional love and saw them almost daily. They were so fortunate to have her.
Rita also enjoyed traveling to her home she and her husband, George, built just outside of Orlando. Her residence in Florida was truly a “home” away from home with a wing dedicated to her kids and grandkids. Rita and George loved to travel together. Rita loved when George would take her away on their boat, and most importantly for the past 53 years since they met, you would never see Rita or George apart.
Rita also leaves a brother, Gerald (Marcia) Kleinman, brother-in-law, Robert Palermo, and her nephew, Mark (Lisa) Kleinman and niece, Leah (Patrick Connick). Rita also leaves many lifelong friends that were as family to her. Lastly, Rita taught everyone close to her that it felt better to give than to get, to love rather than to be loved, and to always live everyday as if it could be your last. Rita had a tremendous life, filled with love, filled with family, and filled with joy. She will be dearly missed and never forgotten.
The family will have calling hours on Sunday evening from 4:00pm to 8:00pm at The Robert E. Shure Funeral Home, 543 George St., New Haven.
Funeral services at Congregation Or Shalom, 505 Old Grassy Hill Rd., Orange, Monday at 12:00 o’clock noon with interment services to follow at The Beth Israel Cemetery, Derby/Milford Rd, Orange.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either: The Family Resource Center c/o Jean Vitale, Director, 50 Park Street, West Haven, CT 06516 or Connecticut Hospice, 2 Trap Falls Road, Suite 408, Shelton, CT 06484. A strictly private period will be observed.