Jill Tornabene

Obituary of Jill Tornabene

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Jill Smith Tornabene of Matawan, NJ entered eternal rest on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the age of 80. She passed away peacefully at Riverview Medical Center after a short battle with COVID-19.  Just before her passing, Jill was visited by close family both in-person and via FaceTime prior to being placed on hospice care.  The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to all the staff on the 3 South wing at Riverview for the compassion and excellent care that they provided during this difficult time.


Jill was born on February 12, 1941, in Long Branch, NJ, along with her twin brother, Jack.  Jill was raised by her mother, Jennie Smith, who taught Jill the importance of speaking kindness over those she loved dearly and standing up for what she believed in.  She grew up with her twin brother and “womby”, Jack; her brothers, Emmett and William; and her sisters, Loretta, Carolynn, and Patricia.  Jill often fondly recalled memories from her childhood and shenanigans with her beloved siblings, always with a twinkle in her eye, a nostalgic smile, and that unmistakable laugh of hers.


Jill attended grammar school in Keansburg, NJ, and high school in Middletown, NJ.  Shortly after graduating high school, she started a family with her husband Robert Schade, they had two boys, Dannie and Benson Schade.  Her sons remember the excitement of going on drives in their mother’s Ford Fairlane and her doing the “wiggly worm.”  Jill always supported their love of boats and would help her boys to buy and fix up boats as they grew older.  Eventually, their nuclear family consisted of their mom, Jill; their Gram, Jennie; and each other.  Their Aunt Pat and her two children, Thea and Greg, also lived close by, and the children all grew up together.  Jill’s sister, Patsy, was always her partner-in-crime.  They laughed together, worked together, and raised their children together.  Dannie and Benson remember that their mom and Aunt Pat never made life seem scary, but instead painted the world as being light and playful and fun.  Jill loved her sons with all her heart, and they will forever carry that profound love and her lighthearted sense of humor with them.


Jill’s career life began with her sister, Patsy, as factory workers at the Lily Tulip Cup Company in Holmdel, NJ.  She went on to work as a typesetter and editor at both The Advisor Newspaper in Middletown, NJ and at Matawan Printing.  Jill was proud to have been involved in the Women’s Rights Movement and part of the National Organization for Women (NOW).  Jill marched on Washington in 1978 with “Battling Bella” Bella Abzug to show support for the Equal Rights Amendment.


Later in life, Jill met and married her soul mate, James R. “Mac” Tornabene, on August 25, 1990.  Mr. Mac had proudly and honorably served 33 years in the US Navy.  Together, they built a life in St. Mary’s, Georgia.  Mr. Mac opened M.A.C.S. (Military and Civilian Society) Restaurant, where the couple spent much of their time binging civilians and military together.  Jill also worked at a local paper.  When it came time to retire, Jill and Mr. Mac moved to a beautiful home on the Satilla River in Hortense, Georgia.  They made many memories there with their children and grandchildren when they were visiting.  Jill and Mr. Mac lived happily together until Mr. Mac passed away on November 29, 2010.  Ever the Jersey Girl at heart, Jill moved back to New Jersey where she spent the last decade of her life with a loving family and her canine companion, Ms. Jennie, by her side.


Jill will be remembered by all who knew her as someone who never held back her laughter or her love.  She gave both freely and willingly to all who needed it.  She was a happy, silly soul who was a ray of sunshine for everyone she knew.  The world is truly a brighter, kinder, funnier place because Jill Smith Tornabene lived in it.  We were immensely blessed to have her love, laughter, and kind words of encouragement in our lives.


Jill is predeceased by her mother, Jennie Smith; her siblings, Emmett Rosebury, William Smith, Loretta Rieger, and Carolynn Bishop; her husband and soul mate, James R. “Mac” Tornabene; and her niece, Thea Starr.  Jill is survived by her twin and “womby,” Jack Smith; her sister and best friend, Patricia Stagich and her husband, Joe; her beloved son Dannie Schade and his wife, Vicky; her beloved son, Benson Schade; her granddaughter Chelsea “Seashell” Hershey and her wife, Tina; her grandson, Kyle Schade; her stepson Dean Tornabene and his sons James and Bruce; her stepson Dwayne Tornabene and his children Isabella (married to Mathew Turner), and Dominic; her stepdaughter, Wendy Samples; her step great-grandsons, Deacon and Wesley Turner; and many loving nieces and nephews.


Due to the pandemic, the family, unfortunately, cannot gather to mourn in traditional ways at this time.  A celebration of Jill’s life will follow at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to your favorite veteran’s support group or an animal shelter in Jill’s memory.  Until we can all get together, the family wishes for everyone to stay safe, be kind to one another, and to take each day as the beautiful gift that it is.  As Jill would say, “Have a sunflower kind of day.”


Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Posten McGinley Funeral Home, 59 E Lincoln Ave, Atlantic Highlands NJ 07716.

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Jill Tornabene

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Jill Tornabene

1941 - 2021

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