THE MAN WITH THE MAGICAL GARDEN
by Barbara Guarino Kruk
Some people have an ability to cultivate the soil with marvelous results, the proverbial green thumb. My grandmother, who had a tiny patch of land in the heart of Brooklyn, grew enough vegetables and some award-winning roses to last for the whole winter. Her secret; used coffee grinds and egg shells. I am not so sure of the science behind those ingredients, but they sure did work.
A local icon, Joseph Fazio, who celebrated his one hundredth birthday, was blessed with the touch of making things grow. Joe and his late beloved wife Ann had a lovely converted summer cottage in Mastic Beach. After retiring from their successful trucking business, they made Mastic Beach their permanent home. A loving and active couple, they were involved in all community and fraternal organizations. They were perfect hosts who knew how to entertain their guests. They had lots of experience from their days of business to their large and wonderful family.
After the love of his life died, Joe threw himself completely into the cultivation of his garden. This was no ordinary plot of land with a few plants; this was the equivalent of a full farm. Joe tended his garden with the utmost care and love. His fig trees were amazing. If anyone has ever tried to grow these finicky fruit trees you know how difficult it can be. My father, who was a good friend of Joe, and a wanna be gardener, had gotten cuttings from the master himself. They grew for several years but when my dad took ill they too became ill.
Joe could plant rocks and they would blossom into delicious edibles. His tomatoes have become famous in the community; so, abundant was his harvest, he would give away bushels of fresh vegetables to anyone who stopped by the house. I have been the lucky recipient of many of his labors.
Joe was a handsome, debonair, man who was always meticulously groomed. He even dressed to work in the garden. He was intelligent, hard-working and had self-taught himself to play the piano. He loved to dance and make people happy.
The garden was a magical place where not only did he grow food to feed his family and friends, but a place to grow friendships. He never locked his door; always hoping to have someone stop over to share his abundance. To him, growing the excess amount of vegetables gave him the opportunity to share his love with others. The sharing of food that he created from the soil was a labor of love.
Joe Fazio was a gentle soul. A devout Catholic; a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. He could light up a room with his smile. He never forgot a name, always had a kind word and a little story to tell.
Several years back, he had gone through some serious medical issues, but he bounced back with great vim and vigor. Shortly after his recovery I was in his company and commented about how well he had responded to the treatment. In typical Joe Fazio style he replied, “You can never give up. You pray and you fight and pray some more. Stay active and busy and all will be well.” For a man who lived over one hundred years, who was intellectually sharp to the very end, beat some serious medical odds, I would say that was pretty darn good advice.
Personally, Joe and Ann Fazio, were part of my life for as long as I can remember. They were role models of what marriage should resemble. With Joe’s passing the end of an era will pass with him. He was a man who, for a century, absorbed the world around him and gave back more than he took.
I know that he is in Heaven with Ann, probably playing the piano for the Lord, and deciding how many tomato plants he can harvest in Paradise. Joe Fazio, a truly remarkable man, loved by all, will be sorely missed by all of us who knew and loved him.
On a personal note: To all of you who called, emailed, and prayed for the recovery of my husband Connie, on behalf of myself and my family, we say a heartfelt “Thank You”. He is recovering and is anxious to get back to work. As the birth of the Savior descends upon us this Christmas, we, The Kruk Family, send our love and best wishes to those we have been honored to serve for the past forty years. This year we marked our Fortieth Anniversary in funeral service at Roma Funeral Home, having opened our doors in 1976. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year.
Helene Belvisi, age 76, of Manorville, passed on December 12, 2016 surrounded by her family. She is survived by her husband Francois, daughters Teresa Chu, Stella Belvisi Mahon, Sabrina Dwinnell and Annie Panico, sisters Martine Houlle and Celine Cohen and eight grandchildren. Respoing was held at Sinnicksons Moriches Funeral Home in Center Moriches. Mass was held at St. Johns RC Church in Center Moriches. Interment was held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Center Moriches.
Joseph Fazio, 100 years young, died this past Friday, in Bayside, Queens. Joe was a true Renaissance man. He was an astute businessman, played the piano, loved to dance, and grew a garden so abundant it could feed a community. He and his late wife Ann, were champions of the community; they were active in the St. George Seniors, Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, James V. Kavanaugh Knights of Columbus and countless other organizations. They were devout members of St. Jude’s RC Church. Joe is survived by his beloved children, Joseph (Cathy) Fazio, Jr. and Sarah (Robert) LaManna Walsh, his cherished ten grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren. Family and friends will be received at Roma Funeral Home in Shirley. A Mass will be offered at St. Jude’s RC Church and interment will take place at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches. The family is requesting that donations in his memory be made to St. Jude’s Shrine Chapel, 89 Overlook Drive, Mastic Beach, New York 11951.
Kristen Lavelle, age 30. A native resident of Mastic, Kristen was a graduate of William Floyd High School and worked with her father for many years in Auto Sales. She was the most loving, caring, thoughtful, giving young woman and was always there for anyone who needed her. Kristen enjoyed dancing and singing, loved life, loved going to Disney, but most of all, she loved her children and loved spending time with them. Surviving Kristen are her children; Matthew Lavelle, Jordan Bumpus, Jaden Otero, Jase Otero, parents; Joseph and Barbara Lavelle of Shirley, siblings; Joseph Lavelle, Jr. of Arizona, Ashley Alberici of Mastic Beach, Brittany Alberici of Shirley, grandmother; Claudine Lavelle of Florida, and fiance; Joel Otero. Family and friends gathered for visitation at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic. Funeral prayers were officiated by Msgr. John Heinlein of St. Jude’s R C Church, Mastic Beach. Cremation was held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches.
Mary Millard, age 96, of Center Moriches, passed in Florida, surrounded by her family on December 11, 2016. She was predeceased by her husband Harry. She is survived by daughters Terry Throw, Jeanne D’Alsace and Nancy McMahon, brother Stanley Pollack, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Visitation was held at Sinnicksons Morches Funeral Home in Center Moriches. Mass was at St. Johns RC Church in Center Moriches. Interment was held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Vincent Pastore, age 89, passed away at Medrord Multicare, Medford. Formerly of Long Island City and a resident of Mastic Beach for one year, Vincent served honorably in the United States Army and enjoyed family get-togethers. He is survived by his nephews; John Pastore of Mastic Beach, Michael Pastore of Huntington, and many, many more nephews and nieces. Family and friends gathered for visitation at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St. Jude’s R C Church, Mastic Beach with Msgr. John Heinlein officiating. Interment followed at St. Michael’s Cemetery, Long Island City, NY.
Linda Sammis – Rafkin, age 67, passed away after a long battle with her illness at Good Shepherd Hospice, Port Jefferson. Linda enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, cooking, drawing, taking her naps, and had always wanted to write her life’s story. She had a passion for charitable organizations, especially the ASPCA and had dreamed of one day having an animal sanctuary. She was very involved with her Church and proud that while she was born Jewish, she converted to Christianity. Linda is survived by her children; Keith Myers of Selden, Jo Ann Mancuso of Florida, Lisa (Sean) Rammacher of Virginia, Valerie Sammis of New Jersey, Jennifer Sammis of Rocky Point, grandchildren; Devon, Jeffrey, Valerie Beth, Tino, Jace, Gabrielle, Emily, Mariella, Alexandra, Jakob, Kaleb, and her colony of feline companions. Cremation services were held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches. Arrangements were under the direction of Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic.
Joseph L. Wagner, age 69, of Shirley, passed on December 13, 2016 at his home surrounded by his family. He is survived by wife Susan, sons John and Christopher, daughter Joanne, sister Janet Sigwart and six grandchildren. Reposing was held at Sinnicksons Moriches Funeral Home in Center Moriches. Religious services were held at the Funeral Home. Interment followed to Greenfield Cemetery.