Thomas Conte, Age 86, of Nesconset, N.Y., passed away peacefully in his home on May 16, 2020. Thomas was the beloved husband of Marie Conte, whom he was happily married to for 67 years. Thomas was the loving father of his four children, Gary (Victoria), Doreen Gulotta, Thomas (Rosemarie) and Andrea (Ralph) Marra. Thomas was the cherished grandfather of his seven grandchildren, Michelle, David, Adam, Matthew, Allyse, Danielle and Anthony. He was the adored great-grandfather of his four great-grandchildren, Jonathan, Abigail, Giovanni, and Dean. Our adored Thomas will forever be in our hearts and most precious memories.

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  1. I was so so sorry and shocked to hear of Mr.conte’s passing. My heart goes out to all of you. I remember how much he enjoyed Danielle , Sara and Alex performing together when they were young. Keep those good memories alive! Diane Hunter

  2. I’ll miss you Uncle Tommy, you know how much I loved you and Aunt Marie, and now you really know! When I write this to say goodbye I keep thinking of the words “thank you”. Thank you for who you were to me, someone who I knew I could always go to if I needed them, someone who cared, someone to look up to, I have so many precious memories of you and Aunt Marie. Thank you for all the fun times we had at your house when we were young, putting on shows & you would all sit there and watch us. Thank you for letting me live at your house to finish high school and graduate! You guys were the ‘tough love’ that I needed! And I did graduate, with almost all “A’s”!!! So thank you my dear Uncle, for everything, but mostly for being such a loving presence in all of our lives. You and Aunt Marie loved God so much and now you are both together, forever in his presence…you will forever be remembered in love and missed. Give my beautiful Aunt Marie a kiss for me, tell her that I love her. I love you Uncle Tommy,, rest in peace……. xoxo

  3. David Conte’s Memorial to Grandpa…

    I have a very different relationship with my grandfather than I do with my grandmother, so paying tribute to them is an entirely different beast. At times, when I was writing about my grandmother, it felt more like I was writing a tribute to the woman she was in her final years as opposed to sharing my own personal memories of her. That’s because all of my more immediate memories of grandma reminded me of her struggles and her remarkable ability to overcome them. Grandma inspired us all to be fighters. We fight in the face of adversity, we fight for our family, AND we fight WITH our family. We’re Conte’s. It’s what we do. Above all else, though, grandma defied the odds and taught us that nothing was impossible.

    Grandpa kind of exemplifies that sentiment of “nothing is impossible” more so than anyone I know. He is “the” definition of the American dream. He came to this country. Fell in love. Started a family, built a lucrative business and proceeded to sacrifice everything he ever worked for. He sacrificed for his wife, who he is reunited with again after a brief respite, and he sacrificed for his children, especially when they were young, so they could have a better life and more opportunities than he did. In many ways, he is more than the definition of the American dream, he is the definition of a great man. A great son and sibling, husband, father, grandfather, and a great GREAT grandfather to John, Abby, Gio and Dean. There is not much more you can ask of any man. If every young man were to model their life after his, the world might be a better place.

    There’s so many things I appreciate about grandpa. First and foremost, if you married into this family like my mom and my uncle Ralph did, he was the first one to truly make you feel like family. He used to tell my mom that he was her dad after my parents married. He shared with me how grateful he was that my father found such a good woman on multiple occasions and it’s not like I don’t already know that, but let’s just say grandpa’s endorsement meant a lot to my mom and therefore, to me as well.

    Another thing that I always appreciated about grandpa was that he was always willing to listen and to teach. Sometimes too much. I didn’t necessarily need more educating on afternoon visits after school, but that’s okay!

    When I was young, I used to sleep over my grandparents house in the summer when school was out. I don’t know how old I was, but I do know it was after my budding passion for rap music started. I used to take out a boombox and put a tape in the deck and rap along to the music for grandpa. My grandfather literally wrote a rap song with me and while he never quite made the journey to rap music himself, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had with him. Now, anyone who knows anything about rap music also knows that on “rare” occasions, the lyrics might not be entirely G-rated, squeaky clean stuff. This isn’t exactly the Three Tenors here. When grandpa heard me rapping along with a song and a racial slur came on he immediately stopped me and sat me down. He explained that even though the music may be meant to entertain you, that you should never use these “words” because it was hurtful to other people who have had to live through horrible events like slavery and racial persecution. He let me know that it was never okay to discriminate based on race, because it was the diversity of the people that made this country so great. I will always remember that. Afterwards, he only allowed me listen to “clean” rap music in his presence. I’m still convinced this is one of the reasons why grandpa and grandma made me watch the Newsies as a kid. Payback for making them listen to music they hated. I hated it at the time, but to be fair, I wound up growing up to love musicals and musical theater, so I am able to look back on it all the more fondly years later.

    The educating didn’t stop there. I know I am no wine connoisseur, but at least for a couple of days in my life, thanks to grandpa, I may have felt like one. I remember driving with him all over L Island, listening to his stories about growing up in Italy and all the construction work he arranged on the island, trying to find the perfect crate of grapes for wine making. It was important for grandpa to teach me this process, so therefore, it was important to me. I can’t even remember if I was legally allowed to drink it at the time, but i could certainly MAKE it. Besides, grandpa was from Italy, he would tell me stories of having a single glass of wine a day even as a child, so I don’t think he really cared if I was old enough anyway.

    I also have a lot of memories of working in his yard with him, taking breaks to play at the basketball court, being taught how to fix paint chips on my car, how to use power tools (something my dad could never help me with!), and as I got older, how I should settle down and meet a good Italian girl. “Is she an Italian girl, David?” was always the first thing he asked when I met someone new and whenever it was he had a good feeling about her. My ex-fiance was not of Italian descent, so maybe he was on to something!

    When you were with grandpa, it never mattered what time of the day it was or how much time you had before you had to get home. I can’t recall a single visit to grandma and grandpa’s where grandpa wasn’t trying to convince me to stay so he can grill up some steaks… and if you said no to that, then he volunteered grandma to make pasta… and if all else failed, well, then he would order a pizza. Ultimately, you had to have some kind of meal with him. It wasn’t really a choice. Well… it was. But it was HIS choice… because he always wanted you there.

    It wasn’t all educational and food based though, I have a lot of fun memories of my grandfather. (And okay, fine, despite the educational value in wine making, it was still fun as well). I remember going to several hockey games with grandpa, my brother and my dad over the years. Hockey was something we talked about frequently. I remember him, just like my dad did, telling me stories about old time hockey and how the new Rangers team’s couldn’t play like a team and how everyone was playing too much like an individual. And in 7 straight years of non-playoff hockey for my favorite team, he wasn’t exactly wrong!

    Grandpa also came along with us for a few wrestling events. Again, just like my dad did, he used to go on and on about the wrestlers he watched growing up. At one particular event, I remember sitting right next to him while he complained that it was too much like a soap opera these days for hours on end. He wasn’t wrong about the Rangers, but he was wrong about this… at least, slightly.

    Having my grandpa there with me to share two of my favorite things with me (three if we count the rap music that I was way too young to be listening to at the time) was a wonderful feeling.

    Hockey games, wrestling events, trips into the city to go out to eat, seeing shows together, they were fun and all, but sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. Maybe it was just a trip to the mall with grandpa and grandma… maybe it was going out to eat with my grandparents together or maybe it was the times it was just the two of us at the Good Steer (which I am forever grateful that grandpa introduced to my dad because I think the cheese dream has the power to change everyone’s life… even if only a little bit). It could’ve been the hours upon hours of my life that I listened to grandpa talk about growing up in Italy or discussing that he wanted to come specifically to NY because it’s where dreams come true in this country. The same pride grandpa had in his home country, and in his new home, after all, was the same pride he felt in his family.

    See, it’s all the little things that add up because the little things are the biggest indication that someone is truly a special part of your life. Never blow off the little things, the mundane or the ordinary. At the end of your life, you’re going to regret it because the little things aren’t always so little and sometimes the big things aren’t necessarily as grand as they seem.

    And with that said, I can confidently say now, to you grandpa, that you always were a special part of my life… and you always will be. I love you.

  4. Michelle’s Memorial to Grandpa

    Dear Grandpa,

    You were such a strong presence in our family. I have enjoyed the many talks, unsolicited advice, glasses of wine, good food and wine making tutorials. I am so grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to share the most special moments in my entire life with you. From my birth to my wedding and all the moments in between to the birth of my own children. It has been a joy watching you get to know Jonathan and Abigail. I still cannot believe that just a few short months ago you were in my living room celebrating Jonathan’s 4th birthday; sitting on my couch, smiling and laughing as you watched the kids play, glass of wine in hand… and we all know, it’s not officially a celebration until you’ve had at least a glass. The list of special moments we have shared together is extensive enough that it has created enough memories to fill two lifetimes, and for that, I am truly blessed. If I had one wish, if I could ever talk to you again, I would ask you to please impart some of your wisdom unto my father. I am still flabbergasted that as skilled and handy as you were, dad did not pick up anything in this department!

    I cannot believe I am writing this just two weeks after grandma’s passing. If I read this in the news, I probably would have thought it was heartwarming and romantic. I’d tell myself, “They must have loved each other so much. They couldn’t have lived without one another.” I have to admit, though, I never really thought about the families before this. When you are only looking on from afar, you cannot help but marvel at the power of their love. But when you are a part of the family… when you see it and experience it first-hand, I am not overcome with those same romantic thoughts of love. Instead, I am just heartbroken to see you go, even though I know your beautiful love story continues. Grandma was a fighter in every sense of the word, but you were her rock and always there with your silent strong compassion, just loving her. You gave her the strength to fight. Now you can both rest in eternal peace together. Yours was a love to strive for.

    One of my all-time favorite quotes reminds me of grandpa and how he conducted himself and treated everyone around him.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Grandpa, may you rest in peace, you will be forever remembered, forever loved, but never forgotten.

    Love Always,

    Michelle

  5. Michelle’s Memorial to Grandpa

    Dear Grandpa,

    You were such a strong presence in our family. I have enjoyed the many talks, unsolicited advice, glasses of wine, good food and wine making tutorials. I am so grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to share the most special moments in my entire life with you. From my birth to my wedding and all the moments in between to the birth of my own children. It has been a joy watching you get to know Jonathan and Abigail. I still cannot believe that just a few short months ago you were in my living room celebrating Jonathan’s 4th birthday; sitting on my couch, smiling and laughing as you watched the kids play, glass of wine in hand… and we all know, it’s not officially a celebration until you’ve had at least a glass. The list of special moments we have shared together is extensive enough that it has created enough memories to fill two lifetimes, and for that, I am truly blessed. If I had one wish, if I could ever talk to you again, I would ask you to please impart some of your wisdom unto my father. I am still flabbergasted that as skilled and handy as you were, dad did not pick up anything in this department!

    I cannot believe I am writing this just two weeks after grandma’s passing. If I read this in the news, I probably would have thought it was heartwarming and romantic. I’d tell myself, “They must have loved each other so much. They couldn’t have lived without one another.” I have to admit, though, I never really thought about the families before this. When you are only looking on from afar, you cannot help but marvel at the power of their love. But when you are a part of the family… when you see it and experience it first-hand, I am not overcome with those same romantic thoughts of love. Instead, I am just heartbroken to see you go, even though I know your beautiful love story continues. Grandma was a fighter in every sense of the word, but you were her rock and always there with your silent strong compassion, just loving her. You gave her the strength to fight. Now you can both rest in eternal peace together. Yours was a love to strive for.

    One of my all-time favorite quotes reminds me of grandpa and how he conducted himself and treated everyone around him.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Grandpa, may you rest in peace, you will be forever remembered, forever loved, but never forgotten.

    Love Always,

    Michelle

  6. Adam’s Memorial to Grandpa

    Dear Grandpa,

    When we named our son, Giovanni, I wanted him to have a strong Italian name. I think part of that came from the pride Grandpa had for his Italian heritage. When I was younger, in high school, we had spoken on the phone and he told me to find and marry a nice Italian girl. I can say with pride that I did that, even though she is only half Italian. But in an even more proud moment, I introduced Grandpa to Giovanni Aldo Conte. Grandpa told me “now that’s a nice Italian name!” His eyes lit up with joy the first time he was able to hold Giovanni. That is one of my most cherished moments in life.

    Grandpa was always there for me. He was there for every big moment in my life. I felt privileged he was able to be there for those big moments. He was there when I graduated high school, got my Bachelor’s Degree, he was at my wedding, Giovanni’s baptism and his first birthday. Even when his health faltered, he made an extraordinary effort to attend all meaningful events in my life. I am so thankful for that.

    Besides the big moments, I will miss a lot of the smaller moments. Whether it was a trip to a hockey game, watching the Islanders and Rangers with him, or when we would go out to eat at an Italian restaurant and he would order a complete second helping of pasta after he finished his first.

    He was welcoming and friendly to everyone he met. He was one of the friendliest people I have ever had the privilege to know. He had an infectious, positive energy about him that would spread from one person to the next. He was a good husband, good grandfather, and a great man. This day deeply saddens me. I know that his health no longer limits him, however. That he is in a better place. That grandma and grandpa are together again. He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten.

  7. Adam’s Memorial to Grandpa

    Dear Grandpa,

    When we named our son, Giovanni, I wanted him to have a strong Italian name. I think part of that came from the pride Grandpa had for his Italian heritage. When I was younger, in high school, we had spoken on the phone and he told me to find and marry a nice Italian girl. I can say with pride that I did that, even though she is only half Italian. But in an even more proud moment, I introduced Grandpa to Giovanni Aldo Conte. Grandpa told me “now that’s a nice Italian name!” His eyes lit up with joy the first time he was able to hold Giovanni. That is one of my most cherished moments in life.

    Grandpa was always there for me. He was there for every big moment in my life. I felt privileged he was able to be there for those big moments. He was there when I graduated high school, got my Bachelor’s Degree, he was at my wedding, Giovanni’s baptism and his first birthday. Even when his health faltered, he made an extraordinary effort to attend all meaningful events in my life. I am so thankful for that.

    Besides the big moments, I will miss a lot of the smaller moments. Whether it was a trip to a hockey game, watching the Islanders and Rangers with him, or when we would go out to eat at an Italian restaurant and he would order a complete second helping of pasta after he finished his first.

    He was welcoming and friendly to everyone he met. He was one of the friendliest people I have ever had the privilege to know. He had an infectious, positive energy about him that would spread from one person to the next. He was a good husband, good grandfather, and a great man. This day deeply saddens me. I know that his health no longer limits him, however. That he is in a better place. That grandma and grandpa are together again. He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten.

  8. Grandma and Grandpa has always been next to each other… always following each other around…. physically and in health. They were always in sync. 2 weeks ago we spoke about how much of an icon, the flame that lit the ways for the family. Today we are speaking about her beloved husband, our dad, grandfather, and great grandpa. He was the foundation, he was the base, he was the wooden torch that held grandma’s flame. As we learned here one could not live without the other. It’s shocking to see but it’s not surprising.

    Grandpa was a simple man, the little things made him happy. He never needed anything big… he had what he always wanted and better than he ever expected. He had a wife that was strong, stern and a fire of passion… He had 4 amazing kids that gave him 7 amazing grandkids. Before he left he also was around to meet his 4 amazing great grandkids. He always had his wine and his biggest gamble in his life, coming over to America at age 16 to live the American Dream was a success. Personally he was always a great reminder that the American Dream is not dead. Yes it’s harder to achieve, but it’s possible and not dead.

    Grandpa gave me the love of discovery, figuring out what goes with what. How to build things, learn how to patch things. I remember helping him saw wood or build something small in his garage. Mostly trinkets as I was younger then 10 and could hurt myself doing anything else haha. Though I used to always have building adventures with legos and my tinkertoy set with grandpa watching me and warning me not to go to high without a sturdier base. But that’s what he was to all of us, a solid base that kept pushing you to follow what you want to do and don’t worry because family is here, and he will always be. I used to come home from school and he be fixing a door, cabinet or something. He was Mr. FIX.

    Grandpa was the best Babysitter of anyone. When it’s me and grandpa left alone we always went and bought Chocolate Moose, Rocky Road Ice creams and a chocolate gelato and mixed the 3 in a bowl. He used to when I was in my teens say Anthony it’s time for you have some wine. So my first official drink was with grandpa, even though he used to tell me wine is not alcohol… sure grandpa. After I turned 21 My dad, Matt and Me used to take grandpa out every once in awhile to a bar, watch baseball or football and when neither were on girls softball or volleyball. Grandpa will always ask every girl he met if they have have a boyfriend or husband. If they say no he would then pull me over and say this is my grandson. Maybe you two can go on a date. He wants everyone to never be alone. Grandpa actually gave up on getting me an “Italian girl” and said at this point just get a nice girl. Grandpa was the best wing it didn’t matter where we, restaurant, bar, beach, taking a walk, etc.

    As an proud Italian, the women aren’t the only great cooks. Grandpa held his own when it came to the grill, and cooking any type of meats. I remember if it was a meat no one can cook it better but grandma. Though I said it in my speech for grandma, he had the best meat sauce. I think it was like 4 types of meat in it. Though don’t worry he also had a green thumb he used to garden but as he got older he stopped. When I debated on about having grown some food he used to take me and tell me where he used to grow what in the backyard.

    Grandpa taught us to enjoy the simple things, stay driven, things are often better then what you expect. Don’t wait to fix things, if family calls be there. Even if you can’t physically be there, be on the phone, send something. Hold your own, be a base for others. These seem to be very simple lessons, but the simple lessons have a bigger impact everyday then anything else. they fortify our values as grandpa fortified grandma.

    I’m sure grandpa is already designing new Housing for Grandma, nanny, babba, and his ancestors. I’m sure he’ll have a house ready for us when it’s our time. Love you grandpa.

  9. Thomas and Marie, Conte, are my Godparents. They taught me unconditional love . I didn’t get to see them often but when I did I always felt their Love. They will always have a special place in my heart.

  10. My Grandpa Tommy was always an amazing role model. As a little girl, it was so easy to see him as this knight in shining armor. He was strong but always gentle, and noble, and chivalrous, and good. He was always fair. He treated our Grandmother like the Queen she was, and he treated our mothers and us girls like princesses. So of course, Grandpa was our noble, devoted knight – our protector. He made sure we knew without a doubt that he was always there for us, and we all looked up to him.

    Grandpa was the epitome of a provider. He never failed to make us feel safe and secure and loved. I’m so grateful to have had a guardian like him in life and for all the joyful memories we’ve shared. Like my cousins and brother have said in their words on this wall of memories, the best memories with Grandpa were truly the small and simple things.

    I’ll always treasure the sleepover nights when we’d play card games together, or when I was older and we’d drink wine together while he shared stories with me about his incredible life. I’ll never forget how he’d scoop up baby bunny rabbits and turtles and all sorts of animals in the yard just to let us pet them. He taught us how to be quiet and gentle so we wouldn’t scare them off. When my insomnia would kick in while we lived with Grandpa and Grandma, I would sneak out of my room late at night and watch the History channel with him. At that time of night, the shows were pretty spooky, but I never had to worry about nightmares when I knew my Grandpa, my protector, was in the next room.

    We all know that Grandpa would have followed Grandma to the ends of the earth, so I guess it really makes sense that he followed her to the next life. It is comforting to know some things truly never change or end, like the love Grandpa Tommy and Grandma Marie shared in this life and beyond.

    What we’re going through as a family right now feels totally world changing. There is so much sorrow in losing such important, beloved, special people, who were the head and heart of our family. But something amazing also has come from this sorrow, and that is getting to witness our family — the family that Grandpa and Grandma built — coming together, even while being thousands of miles apart, to pour love into one another. The power of that love is limitless because it stemmed from them. And their spirits will always live on in us, as we always continue to build on the unconditional love they shared with us. I feel so privileged to be the granddaughter of Marie and Tommy. My life is blessed in so many ways thanks to them.

  11. My Dear Grandpa,

    I don’t know how to put into words my gratitude or love for you. You have always been so perfect to me in every single way.

    Thank you for always protecting Mamma, Matthew and I. You would always come upstairs to our house to make sure we were safe, or of course, to fix anything we needed. You always took our safety in your own hands. I remember the first day Mamma, Grandma, and you agreed to allow Matthew and I to get off the school bus independently. When we got off the bus, we saw you hiding in the bushes and watching us until we walked up the driveway into Mamma’s house. We pretended not to see you because we knew you were protecting us. This is a perfect example of you stepping in as a father figure for Matthew and I. I will forever be grateful for the countless times you have done so. I know you will continue to protect us eternally.

    I will miss our breakfast, lunch, or dinner dates. Some dates, we decided to stay in. Especially if Grandma wasn’t feeling well because you would not want to leave her side. That’s another example of the amazing man you were. Other dates, we decided to go out. My favorite part is when you would introduce me to our waiter. If our waiter was older, you’d introduce me as your daughter. But, if our waiter was younger, you’d introduce me as your girlfriend. No matter what kind of date we were on, it was always filled with your loving advice, your words of wisdom, your guidance, or your incredible stories of Italy. You helped shape me into the woman I am today. I will forever hold your words in my heart.

    I will miss hearing your voice. Your famous Grandpa expressions such as, “You know”, “I have no idea”, “A little bit of this, a little bit of that”, and “Are you kidding?” will forever make me laugh. I will miss hearing you say “I’m sorry”, “Thank you”, and “I love you”. You always had the best manners. The thought of your beautiful Italian accent and your unrestrained chuckle will forever light up my world.

    Thank you for showing me what true love is. Grandma was always the topic of conversation you loved to speak about most. I know that you are smooching Grandma in Heaven, just like you always would here on Earth. Your actions and devotion showed me how a woman should be treated and your last action in life showed me that true love is something more powerful than what we could ever understand. You made me strive to find a love like yours.

    When I was 14 years old, you and Grandma blessed me with a life-changing opportunity and took me to Italy. We spent over a month together traveling the country, visiting your family, the room you were born in, the church you were baptized in, and so much more than what I could have ever imagined. When your paesani heard that Tomasso Conte was back in town, everyone came out to see you. They embraced you while crying tears of joy. At the time, you haven’t seen some of these people since you were 16 years old. I stood there witnessing this reunion while thinking to myself that I am the luckiest girl to have you, such a loved man with the purest soul, as my Nonno.

    You instilled my pride to be Italian. I dedicated my studies and my career to be an Italian teacher to you, my Grandpa. Thank you for teaching me everything I know about our culture and it’s language. I will miss our weekly calls and visits just to speak Italian to each other. Grandpa always told me that we would return to Italy together once more. Then, as Grandma got more sick, Grandpa told me that he could never leave her and we will have to say Goodbye to Italy another time. In my heart, I know you and Grandma are now riding together on that gondola that you both so much enjoyed. I promise to carry on your legacy and teach my own children our language and culture.

    In the words of Andrea Bocelli, “Vorrei averti sempre qui al mio fianco. Sono certo ci incontreremo di nuovo.” “I wish I always had you here by my side. I’m sure, we will meet once again.”

    Ti vorrò sempre bene, mio caro nonno. I will always love you, my dear Grandpa.

    Love Always,
    Your Little Chicken, Allyse

  12. The story of Grandpa’s life is a true inspiration. You can just marvel at the man he was and what he’s accomplished throughout his life. And then you hear what everyone is saying about him…his qualities that made him so loved by so many, his devotion, his love, his kindness, his infectious laugh and smile; and because of his experiences, morals, values and love, he was always a dependable and strong figure for the entire family.

    For us (Allyse and I), Grandpa was a father figure – for as long as we can remember, he was always there – always a part of our lives.

    We were fortunate to essentially live with them through our entire childhood…the majority of my childhood memories involved Grandma & Grandpa. Even from when I was a young child, when I was afraid of the dark, Grandpa would take me outside night after night, holding my hand and walk with me in the dark, assuring me there’s nothing to be afraid of. Eventually, I didn’t need his hand to hold or even the walks weren’t a necessity, but we walked around the property almost every night together that entire summer. We spent a lot of time together, and growing up, he really took the time to teach me a lot of life lessons…taught me respect (if I didn’t say please, thank you or hold the door for Grandma, he’d twist my ear), taught me work ethic (if I didn’t help him rake the leaves or trim the hedges, he’d twist my ear), he taught me to take pride in what you do and to always do it 100% as he would say.

    He was meticulous about everything. From his tools maintenance, to his home – and he had A LOT of pride in his home – but he was even meticulous about his clothes. He taught me how to iron a variety of clothing, from undershirts, to jeans, to dress pants and button down shirts and I still iron my clothes to this day the way that he showed me. He was also meticulous about his process to make wine. I was lucky to be his helpful hand over the years – from driving with him to pick up the grapes, making the wine, preparing it for fermentation, to the final taste test which he’d always sneak me a sip of the final product, with the condition that I don’t tell my mother. I’m fortunate to have these vivid memories that I will forever cherish.

    Grandpa has also helped me out whenever I was in a bind. Being that he drove trucks all around Queens, NYC and Long Island, Grandpa was a human GPS machine – whenever I got lost (obviously before GPS’), I would simply call Grandpa and he’d get me on my way. This happened more times than I’d like to admit. One thing that he did that I will forever appreciate, was when I got my job at the Ducks in Central Islip, and then even at the Mets in Queens, Grandpa would take me on practice drives so that I felt comfortable to get their on my own.

    Aside from living on the same property until I was 15, a few years later I moved in to the apartment underneath them. With that, Grandpa remained a huge part of my adult life. We would eat dinner together regularly, watch tv together, play cards together, confide in each other. Going to church, cooking alongside him (even getting the opportunity to make polenta with him), flavoring and cutting the meats at the holidays, shooting the basketball underhanded, scratching off lotto tickets, going into moms house when she wasn’t home to throw stuff out without her knowing (because he hated how much she’d hold on to and save)…the list goes on and on…these are all memories I consistently think of that bring a smile to my face.

    Later in life Grandpa became more of a friend. We’d talk work, life, family…he was just so genuine with everything he would ask or say. Grandpa was such a cool guy too – my friends and I would make plans to go out for a few drinks, watch whatever game is on the TV, and ask Grandpa if he wanted to come along. I’d tell them I’m bringing grandpa and they’d frankly get excited. They’d love to hear his stories, talk with him, egg him on to flirt with the waitress or bartender, but he’d always say Marie is waiting home for me. He was a character who loved to laugh and have a night out with the boys.

    Grandpa – you are my role model and my inspiration. You protected us, looked after us, loved ALL of us, taught us never to settle and strive to be excellent. You always pushed us and for that I thank you. The values and qualities you taught and instilled in my life shaped me to be the man I am today. I always made decisions with the intent of making you proud, and I am honored to have the experiences and relationship that I had with you. Still to this day, some of my proudest moments in life has been working alongside you. I am grateful for all of my time spent and memories made with you, and the best tribute that I think I can pay to you, is by passing everything you taught and instilled in me in to my son. Thank you, Grandpa, for everything.

    I will forever love you.
    Matthew

  13. Our beloved father joined our loving mother on Saturday, May 16th, in God’s heavenly kingdom. We know the Lord welcomed our father with open arms because of the amazing man that he was.

    How do we begin to talk about a man whose life was devoted to his family? Our father came to this country by himself when he was 16 years old from a small town which he was named after, San Tomasso, in Abruzzo, Italy. Dad came here with one suitcase that had one suit and a few pieces of clothing and in dad’s words “a couple of bucks…nothing.” Dad shared with us that it took 13 days for him to get to Ellis Island, and he was sick for most of time because of the tremendous waves and the room according to dad was the size of a kitchen table. When dad arrived in America he lived with his uncle and his 15 cousins in a two-room house on Metropolitan Avenue in Queens. He went immediately to work for his uncle in the construction business. Dad used to say that you could always tell who got up first in the morning because they would be the one that was the best dressed! Soon after our dad came, he met our mother through one of his 15 cousins. Dad was 18 years old, and our mother was 16. They fell deeply in love instantaneously and were married 2 years later. By the time our dad was 28 years old, he was the proud father of us 4 children. From the minute that we were born, our dad turned into our provider, our protector, our teacher, our role model, and our friend.

    Our dad’s devotion to his family, led him to open his own excavation company to provide for us throughout the years. Our father had an incredible work ethic. Our father’s business deals would be made with a handshake because that was the honest, trusting man that he was. He labored long strenuous hours to give us everything that we ever needed. If he couldn’t do excavation in the winter months, he would plow snow through the nights on his Big Mac Truck, many times taking Gary and Thomas. Not only was our dad a skilled excavator, but he was a jack of all trades. We never needed a plumber, electrician, or construction worker because dad did it all. In fact, our father designed and helped build our home, which he was so proud of. If we couldn’t find dad, he would be walking around our acre and a half of property admiring its beauty, especially the berm in the front of our house which he landscaped himself.

    Our dad didn’t have the opportunity to further his education, so he wanted to make sure we focused on ours. Education was important to dad, so he made sure he provided us the opportunity to go to college. In fact, not only did dad pay for all our educations by working long hours, but he bought us our cars and paid for our car insurances to make sure that nothing distracted us from our studies!

    The lessons that we learned from our loving father were taught to us through example and were so valuable throughout our lives. Most important to him was to instill the meaning of respect in his children. Dad would say with his Italian accent, “If you don’t have respect, you don’t have nothing.” Throughout our childhood and adulthood, dad continued to remind us to always treat people with respect, and he, the gentleman that he was, would display it no matter who he was with or where he was. This was one of dad’s amazing qualities that made him such a wonderful man. He was deeply loved by us and by so many others for a multitude of reasons.

    Dad was gentle at heart. He was kind and willing to help anyone in need with no expectations in return. His smile radiated, as did his positive attitude and outlook on life. Dad was selfless and generous to a fault. Our father always saw the beauty in things, especially in our mom. Dad would always say how beautiful our mom was and give her a “smooch” as he would call it, every day and before bed every night, and our mom’s eyes would tell him how much she loved him. Our dad was always a great listener and would calmly and thoughtfully offer his advice. He truly cared about everyone’s well-being.

    As serious that dad was about instilling the idea of respect in his children, he had such a fun side! Our father was a child at heart. Dad took mom to Coney Island from when they started dating, and in his words, “What I made, I spent on Marie.” Dad continued this tradition of taking us to Coney Island every summer, and besides loving his raw clams on the boardwalk, he would love to take us on one of his favorite rides, the Wonder Wheel. Dad would shake the carts when we were at the highest point, and even though we all screamed with anticipation, we loved every minute of it! Another funny memory about our dad was when he tried to teach us how to use our new skis on the hill in our front yard. Unfortunately, he went down soon after those skis went on his feet! Dad’s kid – like side included us piling up in the station wagon and taking us to Adirondack Drive where the hills were so large that we would pop out of our seats and hit our heads on the ceiling of the car! After our fun filled rides, dad would end our excursion with a visit to Carvel!

    Our father loved nature. As a family, we would watch Wild Kingdom every Sunday night. Dad would feed the wild rabbits on our property and wasn’t bothered by the fact that they were eating from his amazing vegetable garden. He would bring home wild animals that he would find on his excavation sites. Although mom wasn’t thrilled with this, we loved it! Once he brought home a wild duck that ran through our house when dad let it loose. Dad also brought home rabbits that he initially told us he was going to cook because they were delicious! Of course, the compassionate man that our dad was, he did not have the heart to do what he intended to do, and we wound up having rabbits as pets! Our favorite memory though, is when our dad came home with our first dog hidden under his coat jacket, just like he would hide the Hersey bars he brought home to us all the time.

    Like our mother, dad loved his music. As children, he would bring us to New York City to see Broadway musicals and musicals at Jones Beach and Westbury Music Fair too. We watched Rogers and Hammerstein musicals at home as a family, and our dad would have a beautiful content smile on his face. Mario Lanza though, was our dad’s favorite. He would play his Mario Lanza music every Sunday morning before and after church. Mom would be cooking the sauce because no matter what, Sunday was pasta day, our dad’s favorite food.

    And of course, you couldn’t eat pasta without a glass of wine. Our father took pride in his Italian heritage and expressed that pride in the wine he made. When dad’s wine had finished fermenting and was ready to drink, he would pour it in his wine glass and hold it up to the light to admire its qualities. He was so proud and rightfully so because it was always delicious and was made with love. In fact, he even used it in all his cooking! Although mom did all the cooking, dad was in-charge of the meats! In an Italian household, that’s an important job! Dad took pride in how he prepared the meats, especially for the holidays. The cost of his fresh herbs to season the meat, was probably more than the cost of the meat itself! And then dad in his apron, added the remaining seasoning ingredient, vino!

    There is so much more that could be said about our incredible dad, the honorable man that he was. We will forever appreciate his love and devotion to his family, his selflessness and how hard he worked to provide for us all. Dad, you will forever be in our hearts and in our most precious memories. There will always be a part of you and mom in all of us. We know that you both are now looking down on us from heaven, as you are embraced in each other’s arms. God blessed us in abundance when he chose you both to be our parents, who gave us the foundation and ultimate example of the unity and unconditional love of family.

    With Love Forever,
    Gary, Doreen, Thomas and Andrea

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