Odette was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Immaculate Heart of Mary parochial school and Brooklyn High School of Women's Garment Trades, class of 1942. Odette volunteered at the USO during WWII, handing out coffee and donuts to grateful GIs. She worked briefly in the New York City garment district then moved to Gimbels department store as a black and white photo colorization artist. She married Robert Cuccaro in 1948 and when her entire family relocated to Duarte, CA later that year the newlyweds soon followed, settling in nearby Monrovia. Odette sang in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church choir until the birth of her children. In 1949, both Bob and Odette were charter members of American Legion Duarte Post 830. She was active in the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) from Unit 830’s inception until her retirement in 2022.
Odette was the ALA District President first in 1961-1962. She became the State of California Department President in 1971-1972. Odette then served in other various chair positions at the unit, district, department, and national level for the next 50 years. The Sons of the American Legion voted Odette as the first female member into its Hall of Fame in 2014 and her portrait will forever be on display at Pasadena Post 13. She was honored with the Military Service & Stewardship Award in 2016 for her long-standing work with veterans and VA Hospitals. Odette was named Monrovia Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Woman of the Year for her work with veterans’ organizations. In 2021, the Odette Cuccaro Award was created to officially recognize a member or unit of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of California for outstanding Public Relations efforts that contribute significantly to the positive image of the ALA.
In her 70s, Odette volunteered for the benevolent arm of the International Order of Foresters and learned to use the computer. Active until the end, Odette was very social, never missing a family or Legion get together or an opportunity to lend her support to a worthy cause. She loved to knit and in her 90’s enjoyed the Monrovia Senior Center knitting circles. She knitted scarves, slippers, and beanies for everyone and donated these creations mostly to US servicemembers and their families. Odette especially delighted in watching her extended family and friends grow to have children and grandkids of their own. She was welcomed by daughter Suzi and son-in-law Mike Preti into their home for her last nine months.
Odette is preceded in death by her husband, Bob; two brothers and three sisters. She is survived by her children, Suzi (Mike Preti); Charles (Ana Maria Grace); and granddaughters Laura and Jackie (Jamie Holcomb), and great grandson Kay Holcomb; her brother Wally Raheb (Dorothy) and sister Harriett Sullivan; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, neighbors, fellow Legionnaires, and hundreds of friends. Special thanks to her friends and neighbors Joy and Dick Bushmeyer for their loving care from 2019 through 2022.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the American Legion Auxiliary, Duarte Unit 830, c/o Patty Martinez, 1639 Bentley Place, Glendora CA 91740. Earmark the gift for the Odette Cuccaro Award (EIN 95-6048762).
Funeral arrangements are scheduled for May 3 and 4, please consult Douglas and Zook Mortuary in Monrovia, CA for details.
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DOUGLASS & ZOOK FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES · 600 E. FOOTHILL BOULEVARD, MONROVIA, CA 91016 · FD 221
Funeral planning is funded through the purchase of whole life insurance from National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Madison, WI (NGL). A qualified Forest Lawn Planning Advisor who has been both licensed by the California Department of Insurance and appointed as an agent of NGL can answer any questions. Forest Lawn Mortuary (licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs as Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services) is an agent of NGL. National Guardian Life Insurance Company is not affiliated with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, aka The Guardian or Guardian Life.