Last week I received a very sad message from Joanne Cusumano, the daughter of Phyllis Cusumano. Phyllis, who was known and loved far and wide, had finally succumbed to brain cancer. 

Phyllis was my friend and, even though we had never met in person, we were frequently in contact by phone and email. Phyllis vowed that some day we would meet in person but that day never happened, which makes me very sad. 

Phyllis was a beloved Mah Jongg teacher living in Naples, Florida. I would often receive messages from people in and around the Naples area, inquiring about Mah Jongg lessons. I always responded to their inquiries with a message letting them know that they were in luck as the best teacher in their area was Phyllis Cusumano and they should contact her immediately. Phyllis always called or wrote with a thank you and, more telling, I would usually receive a message from the students thanking me for introducing them to Phyllis and letting me know what an amazing teacher she was. 

This world has lost a very special woman. I send my condolences to Joanne, her daughter, who now has Buddy, Phylis’s beloved dog. 

There will be a mass for Phyllis on Monday, August 14 at 11am at Most Blessed Sacrament in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and there will also be a service for her on November 13 at 10am at St. Williams Church in Naples.

Rest in peace, Phyllis, and hopefully there will be many Mah Jongg games for you up in heaven.


  1. tobyalice


    This is the most beautiful tribute. You are a gift to all who come to know you and it just shows here so clearly. I send my heartfelt condolences to Phyllis’s family and of course, Buddy.


    1. Mah Jongg and Me Post author

      Toby – thank you so much for your beautiful words. Phyllis was such a special person…as are you. And I am so happy that you and Elizabeth have become friends. She is such an interesting, intelligent woman (just like you) and a dear, longtime friend. It makes me smile to see photos of you together! Ann xxo



    My heart is breaking. She and I never met. But she begged me to come to Florida. She promised to treat me like family. She was a customer who became a friend. Every so often she would come to this site and say something nice about my jewelry. And, how she loved her students!

    OMG! She was just so dear. Please let her family know that she is in my heart forever! I will miss her emails and her sweet, sweet spirit. Ann, I know that she loved you. She always talked about how special you were to her.

    Phyllis, Rest in Peace and know that we will forever love you and how you gave your heart to mahjong and all your mahjong students and friends!

    Sandra Davis of Gehazi Collections


    1. Mah Jongg and Me Post author

      Dearest Sandra,
      I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as I read this beautiful message from you. Your words are so dear and I will certainly let Phyllis’s family know what you had to say. Thanks you for your thoughts and thank you for being the very special person that you are.
      With love,
      Ann xxo


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