In July of 2011, Trinacria lost a dear friend. Lenny Magazzolo was a friend to us all, and served on our Board of Directors. He brought much joy to our dinner/dances with his heartfelt rendition of Sicilia Bedda, and other favorites.
Joanie Cox is Lenny’s granddaughter. She writes for City Link magazine, and the Sun Sentinel in southeast Florida. She wrote the following touching tribute to her grandfather. As you read it, enjoy Lenny’s performance of Time to Say Goodbye.
A grandfather’s love never ends: a tribute to Leonardo Magazzolo
Published Aug. 3, 2011 in Boca Raton Forum
“A grandpa has silver in his hair and gold in his heart.”
-The Cracker Barrel Christmas ornament I gave my grandpa last year
On July 30, 2011, my beloved grandfather, Leonardo Magazzolo, went home to Jesus. He was 77 years old. It was the seventh month of the year and he had been suffering for seven years from transverse myelitis which left him paralyzed after taking a flu shot. He was married to my beautiful grandmother Joan for 57 years. And my mother Nancy, grandmother and I were on the seventh floor talking with his favorite physician, Dr. Vartgez Mansourian, just moments before he passed. It has been written that the number 7 is God’s divine number and that it signifies divine completion and perfection. I cannot think of a life more perfect than the one my grandfather led.
My grandfather was born Sept. 1, 1933 in Sicily. He came to the United States in 1949 through Ellis Island. He picked up rocks by an Italian river for months to save enough to buy a French beret to wear on his trip to America. “I was so happy with this hat,” my grandfather said. “I was sitting on the top deck, enjoying the view and this kid took my hat and threw it in the ocean. I was so mad. It turned out to be a movie producer’s son. He offered me money to replace it, but I didn’t take it. I wanted my hat back.”
My grandfather’s favorite thing to do in life besides spend time with his family and attend church was work. He never took a day off. He taught me and my cousins the importance of working hard and he’d always tell us “If you rest, you rust.” He got his first job in America in one day. He worked in a clothing factory. Within a month, he was managing the entire place. My grandmother’s uncle owned the factory and one day, she went in for a suit and coat and he asked her out. This turned into a wonderful courtship that led to a long and happy marriage and three incredible daughters, a granddaughter, three grandsons, a great-granddaughter and son-in-laws. In the early ‘60s he opened his own ladies garment factory in Brooklyn, N.Y. and he manufactured some of the first clothing for Calvin Klein. Growing up in my grandparents’ home with my mother, my grandpa would take me shopping for clothes and turn everything inside out. I’d wonder why he was doing that and then he’d tell me “You’ve got to make sure it’s made right. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside.”
No one was put together better than my grandpa. And everyone who knew him adored him. When I graduated from Spanish River High School in 1998, he and my grandma took me on a cruise to Europe as a graduation gift. I got to walk with my grandpa on The Spanish Steps, go shopping in Montecarlo and visit Malta. He taught me how to drive a car. He sat with me through my first jury duty assignment and showered me with compliments my entire life. He told me he was proud of me and we never saw each other without exchanging “I Love You’s.” I can still hear him saying it in his gorgeous Italian accent.
During his life, he owned a deli, a beauty shop, a used car lot and a pallet business. He was a hard worker, a caring and loving father and grandfather, the best husband and he always provided for everyone. If I needed something, he was there. His favorite movies were Analyze This, The Godfather Trilogy, Casino and Goodfellas and he had a wonderful sense of humor. He loved to sing Italian love songs and dedicate them to my grandma and he had the lungs of Pavarotti. I could sit and listen to my grandpa sing for hours. My aunt JD Danner helped him record a CD a few years back and created a MySpace page for his music (Myspace.com/leonardomagazzolo). He was totally in awe of the internet and that the whole world now had access to his music.
The night he died, he appeared to my 20-year-old cousin Alex in a dream. “Grandpa was running on the beach with me and he was singing ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ to me and he looked happy.” My grandpa’s only wish in life was to walk again. The next day, I kept praying for a sign to let me know he was OK. I looked in my grandpa’s eyeglass case and a fortune fell out that he had saved. It said “A dream you have will come true.” In that moment, I remembered my favorite song to watch him sing when I was a little girl–“The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from Man of La Mancha. And then I realized, the past seven years was his own courageous quest. “And the world will be better for this/That one man…Still strove, with his last ounce of courage/To reach the unreachable star.” Thank you grandpa for teaching me no dream is impossible. I love you with all of my heart. My gratitude is infinite. I will continue to live by your noble example and I absolutely know…God granted your wish.