Irene Marie Centoni passed away peacefully on Jan. 31, 2021, in Half Moon Bay, where she lived her entire 97 years of life.
She was born March 19, 1923, to John and Laura Arata (Brazil) and was raised on the famed Arata ranch with her siblings Dolly (Sexton), John and Clarence in Lobitos. She graduated from Half Moon Bay High School in 1941 and married her high school sweetheart Larry Centoni on Oct. 28, 1944.
They began their life together in the Hollywood Court Apartments, now known as Plum Tree Courtyard at Correas and Johnston streets, which was convenient for Larry as a volunteer firefighter because the firehouse was next door. Larry also served in the U.S. Army. Eventually, they bought their first home on Main Street in Half Moon Bay and started a family, living there until they were forced to move because Highway 92 was expanding from Main Street to Highway 1 and needed to run right through their property. They built their dream home in the downtown area of Myrtle Street in 1953. Larry worked as a sales rep for Peterson Tractor, becoming a full-time firefighter in 1960 and eventually serving as Fire Chief of Half Moon Bay.
Irene worked in the office at Mills Peninsula Hospital for more than 20 years, which her granddaughter thought was the “typewriter hospital,” a story Irene loved to tell. Both Larry and Irene retired in the early ‘80s and spent their retirement years enjoying adventures in their travel trailer to fish at Pardee Lake and other secret spots. They loved gambling in Tahoe and frequenting garage sales around the Bay Area hunting for treasures.
Irene also enjoyed shopping at the mall while Larry found comfy chairs to sit in and offered opinions when needed. They were married for almost 70 years when Larry passed away in 2014. Irene continued to live in their Myrtle home and mustered an independence and strength that impressed all who knew her. She loved her family and checking in on kids, grandkids and great-grandkids and being up-to-date on everything that was going on. She enjoyed watching her “programs” and the SF Giants and loved chatting with her neighbors and friends. She was sharp as a tack until the week she passed, straightening out stories and keeping everyone on their toes.
Irene is preceded in death by her husband, Larry, and her youngest daughter, Dana Centoni, who lost her battle with leukemia in 2000. She is survived by her daughter Donna Bettencourt and husband Dave, of Half Moon Bay, and son Dan Centoni and his wife, Karen, of Foster City. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Lisa Damrosch and husband Matt, of Half Moon Bay, Geoff Bettencourt and wife Moriah, of Half Moon Bay, Mark Centoni and partner Amy, in San Francisco, and Lauren Centoni and partner Mike, in Menlo Park. She also had three great-grandsons, Alex Bettencourt, Todd Damrosch and Lorenzo D’Angelo.