Sylva Anna Maria Bertini

by | Sep 17, 2020 | Obituaries

Ocean City, NJ—We celebrate the beautiful life of Sylva Anna Maria Jamsek Bertini, who was called home to be with her loving God on 31 August, 2020, surrounded by her daughters.

Sylva was born in Fiume, Italy, in June of 1936. She loved her lively port city, living by the sea, and going to school. During Mussolini’s Italy, Sylva was witness to many atrocities of war and was forced to grow up quickly, eventually fleeing her beloved country from the fascist regime as a refugee of war to America. She came to the U.S. at the young age of 16 with her mother, father, and younger brother, by ship. Their names remain on the wall at Ellis Island.

Although Sylva was an exceptional student in Italy and had already devoured many of the great books of literature and conquered calculus, she was placed in the 6th grade upon arriving in Vineland, N.J., because she spoke only minimal English and ESL education was not yet a reality. At 8th grade she decided to continue her studies through distance learning, and earned her High School Diploma, as well as several Literature credits in night school at Glassboro State College.

Sylva met Marino Augusto Bertini, a handsome and spirited Italian American sailor on leave from the Navy after just returning from a long tour of duty, in the spring of 1956. The two fell in love and married, settling in Vineland where they had their three daughters. Marino became a butcher and Sylva decided to open a small market, with her parents as partners. This venture started what would become a more than 30-year career of being a savvy business woman, and ultimately leading her family to their new home by the sea she so missed, in Ocean City N.J., where J&B Delicatessen on 31st and Asbury, would become an amazing family run success, with Sylva at the helm.

Sylva was the main caretaker for her many relatives who had come and settled in N.J. before her. She would continue to navigate this new country, its customs, rules, and language for them. She dutifully and lovingly cared for her parents, always living with her, until their deaths.

To Sylva, education was only third to faith and family, and so the Bertini girls were raised knowing that an excellent higher education to eventually serve others with a noble purpose was an expectation. Sylva and Marino were able to realize their dreams and send their three daughters to fine universities—Sonya to Simmons where she became a bilingual special education teacher; Lisa to Georgetown and William and Mary Law, where she became a discrimination attorney; and Vanessa to University of Virginia, where she became a pediatric oncology RN.

After the sale of the deli, Sylva became a bank teller at Ocean City Home Bank. She quickly showed her talents, and as the bank grew, worked her way up to becoming a vice president. Ultimately, Sylva was appointed the first ever woman to serve on the board of directors of Ocean City Home Savings and Loan.

She was a treasured member of the community, contributing her time and talents to food cupboard, the Ocean City Historical Society, the Ocean City Pops, as a Minister of the Eucharist for the ill at Shore Memorial Hospital and for Saint Damien Parish Catholic Church. And as a mother and grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend, she was sincerely beloved.

Her humble, wise and giving spirit will be cherished. Sylva Bertini will be forever remembered as the personification of kindness, grace, and dignity to all who knew her.

Sylva is survived by her devoted daughters, Sonya Bertini (Rich Tolson) of Margate; Lisa Bertini (Dr. Jack Siegel) of Virginia Beach; and Vanessa Bertini (Patrick Murphy) of Virginia Beach. She also is survived by her 6 adoring grand children, Mikel Bertini of NYC, Roxanne Smith of Virginia Beach, Zoe Siegel of NYC, Sophia Smith Wells of Richmond Va., Lucy Siegel of Los Angeles, and Isabella Smith of Royalton, Vt., and one great grand daughter, Lola Jane Wells of Richmond. Donations to USA for UNHCR at, a charity dear to her heart. Godfrey Funeral Home.