BY GABE HERMAN | Eileen A. Avezzano, who founded and ran Eileen’s Special Cheesecake shop in Soho going back to the 1970s, died Nov. 23. She would have turned 72 on Dec. 4.
Avezzano opened the bakery in 1976 at 17 Cleveland Place, near Kenmare St.
“It was before Cleveland Place was even on the map,” noted her daughter Holly Maloney.
“Eileen was an influential icon to this neighborhood,” Holly added. “She brought love and happiness to everyone that knew her personally, and she brought love and happiness to everyone through her cheesecakes. My mom was a very hardworking woman but she made time to stop and smell the roses.”
Avezzano was born in Philadelphia but lived in Hewlett, Long Island, for much of her life, where Holly and Avezzano’s other daughter, Bonnie Ponte, both grew up. However, Holly noted, “My sister and I were raised in this bakery.”
Holly said Eileen’s grandchildren would also be in the shop during holidays.
“It is still very much family-owned and -operated,” she said, “and always will be.” Two years ago, Holly and Bonnie took over operations of the bakery.
“This was her life passion,” Holly said of her mother.
“She privately battled leukemia for two years, never wanting anyone to worry,” she added. “Eileen was all about love, happiness and making the best of any situation life throws at you. She has made a mark in this world, and will continue to through Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
“She was the most giving person you could ever meet,” Holly said. “I know people say that, but no truer words were ever spoken about a person. She never was negative. My mother was just a positive person all the time.”
Along with daughters Bonnie and Holly, Avezzano is survived by four grandchildren and several step-grandchildren.
Visitations were held on Nov. 27 at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, at 199 Bleecker St., and the funeral was held on Nov. 28 at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mott St.