Community Life

Portia Checchio Memorial Service at Shady Rest Clubhouse Celebrates a Scotch Plains Icon

Portrait of Portia Checcio Credits: John Mooney
Friends and family gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Portia Sue Checchio served as the emcee for the celebration of her mom's life. Credits: John Mooney
The stunning young Portia Checchio Credits: John Mooney
Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith talks about former Mayor Mauro Checchio and his wife, Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Members of the Checchio celebrated the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Friends, including Scotch Plains officials, gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Family gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Friends and family gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Uncle Harlan, Portia's brother, and Sue Checchio shared their memories. Credits: John Mooney
Friends and family gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Photo of Portia and Mauro Checchio Credits: John Mooney
A celebration of the Iowa State song. Credits: John Mooney
Benediction by Portia's pastor Credits: John Mooney
Friends and family gathered at the Shady Rest Clubhouse to celebrate the life of Portia Checchio. Credits: John Mooney
Food catered by Darby Road Credits: John Mooney
Mauro and Portia Checchio Credits: John Mooney
Photos of Portia Checchio Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Two hundred friends and members of Portia Checchio's extended family attended a memorial service on Sunday, May 6, to celebrate the wife of former Scotch Plains Mayor Mauro A. Checchio, who predeceased her 2015.

Born in Orient, Iowa, to Gertrude and Russel Schuler, Portia relocated to Scotch Plains, following her marriage to Mauro (after both graduated from the University of Iowa). They lived in Scotch Plains for the rest of their lives and were active in local politics, community planning, and historic preservation.

The Checchios were particularly passionate about restoring the Shady Rest Clubhouse at Scotch Plains Country Club, where her memorial service was held. The newly renovated building, which dates back before the American Revolution, was the centerpiece of the Shady Rest, America's first black-owned golf course. 

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Attendees included Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith, who read a proclamation and also announced that a street in the township would be renamed "Checchio Way" in honor of the former mayor and his wife, who both lived past age 90. Other noteworthy attendees included Portia's brother Harlan, a WWII vet with a sharp with, her five children and numerous grandchildren. 

"Mom didn't want a funeral; she wanted a party! She loved champagne, so I hope you have some in her honor," said Sue Checchio, one of Portia's five children.

"Portia was a farm girl. It was part of her spirit," she said, referring to her mother's love of animals and people. "If you were lucky enough to capture a piece of her spirit, she would say, 'do something with it'."




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