How We Honor the Dead
by Barbara Guarino Kruk

It has been said, “That a society that does not pay homage to its dead, is a society without honor.” The life of every human being deserves to be recognized, remembered and cherished. Having served countless families over these past forty years, I sadly see a trend that makes me wonder where our values as a nation and as a society are going.
There was a time when the loss of a loved one was profound. The mere mention of their name was enough to have an adult make the sign of the cross and invoke the words, “God rest his/ her soul.” I remember as a young child asking my mother why people would say that everything they spoke of someone who had died. She very patiently said, “We must always remember those who have passed before us and pray that they are safe in God’s keeping. You must always pray for those who have gone before you.”
Some things you learn as a child always stay with you. The elders of the family would tell stories about our deceased family members never wanting the memory of them to be lost over time. We honored our dead; they were the roots, the foundation, of our personal history. Their sacrifice, their legacy, should never be forgotten.
Sadly, we have become a people who live for the present and have erased the past. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people do not even know the maiden name of their mothers. So many are estranged from their families, even those who should be the closest to them. It is a sad statement of what we have become. Where is the respect?
Not so very long ago when a funeral procession passed, people would make the sign of the cross, and those in cars would stop until the entire procession passed. Now, if you should attempt to keep a funeral procession together in oncoming traffic people beep, flip you the bird and shout obscenities out their window. Where is the respect?
It was expected that when you went to pay your respects to a grieving family you would come properly dressed, remove your hat and not have a beverage in your hand as you make you way up to the casket. Where is the respect?
Maybe I have become old fashioned, but I still believe in the protocol of respect. There is no need to clad yourself in black, going about crying and wailing, but for the love of humanity, just treat people, even the dead, with dignity.
Perhaps, the problem lies in our lack of dignity for ourselves. We cast aside our loved ones, our parents, our children sending them to the curb like yesterday’s trash.
Without honor, without respect, without dignity, we will become a lawless, indecent society.
Margaret (Rita) Brennan, age 83, passed away on December 7, 2016 surrounded by her loving family. Born in Wexford, Ireland and a resident of Shirley for forty-two years, Margaret was a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. She enjoyed knitting, playing the lottery, going to antique shows, and more than anything, loved her grandchildren. Margaret is survived by her children; Rosemary Mannix of Shirley, Catherine Donnellan of Shirley, Doreen Brennan of Shirley, Caroline Haren of North Carolina, Patrick Brennan of Shirley, Anthony Brennan of North Carolina, Donna (Frank) Brandolisio of Pennsylvania; eighteen grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; siblings; Michael McGrath of California, and Olive Doyle of Ireland. Family and friends gathered for visitation at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St. Jude’s RC Church, Mastic Beach with Fr. John Ryan officiating. Interment followed at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches.

Vito Dispigna, age 59, passed away suddenly on December 5, 2016. Born in Brooklyn, NY and resident of Shirley for nineteen years, Vito was employed as an auto mechanic with Huntington Toyota. He enjoyed traveling, was a huge car enthusiast, and cherished his children. He is survived by his wife; Dorothy Cohen-Dispigna, children; Kristina Dispigna of Shirley, Salvatore Dispigna of Staten Island, siblings; Maryann Adorno of Staten Island, Joseph Dispigna of Staten Island, and his ever-faithful, canine companion; Samantha. Family and friends gathered for visitation at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic. Funeral prayers were offered by Fr. John Ryan of St. Jude’s RC Church, Mastic Beach. Cremation was held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches

Michael Christopher Gambina, age 44, of Mastic, died suddenly at his residence on January12, 2017. Michael was born in Hempstead, attended and graduated from Westhampton High School and was a laborer in the construction industry. He moved to Florida several years ago where he married his wife Joanna. He enjoyed playing video poker and video games, he was the best spectator at the sports events of his son and nieces and nephews. He was a fan of rock and roll and rap music. Michael is survived by his wife Joanna, his son Andrew, his parents John and Joyce, his brothers John (Tracy) and Thomas (Nicole) as well as six nieces and nephews. He was the beloved grandson of John DeNitto. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Roma Funeral Home in Shirley. Cremation took place at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches.

Arleen Johnson, age 66, passed away on December 22, 2016 at Peconic Bay Medical Center, Riverhead. Formerly of Manorville and a resident of East Moriches for four and a half years, Arleen enjoyed reading, taking care of her husband, Allen, and was an amazing artist. She was an exceptionally sociable lady and made friends easily. Arleen is survived by her husband; Allen, children; Dawn (Eric) Kelly of Shirley, Eric Johnson of Manorville, grandchildren; Ethan and Emily Kelly of Shirley, mother; Audrey Santa Maria, stepfather; Michael Santa Maria, siblings; Adrianne (David) Robinson, Anne Valdina, Pamela (Bob) McGregor, Michelle (Richie) Frank, Michael Santa Maria, and her loyal canine companion; Lily. Following private cremation at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Center Moriches, family and friends gathered for memorial visitation and services at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic.

Anthony John, “Tony” Saggio, age 73, of Mastic Beach, New York, died Sunday, January 8, 2017 with his family by his side. Anthony was born December 4, 1943, in Bronx, New York. Beloved husband to Diane; loving father to Anthony Saggio, Jr., Cathey Honeyman, Cara Saggio, Jennifer Williamson and Stephanie Clancy; cherished grandfather to Anthony Saggio, III, Matthew, Sara, Ryan and Nicholas Berentsen, Steven, Alec and Lindsey Williamson, Kieran Clancy and Bobby and Travis Honeyman and Devoted brother to Carmine Saggio. He is also survived by nieces, nephews and cousins who loved him dearly. Anthony was predeceased by his parents Anthony and Rose Saggio and his grandson Michael L. Williamson. Tony was many things to many people. He had a wonderful sense of community and was very involved in many charitable organizations. Tony and Diane loved boating and spent many summers with family and friends at Great Gun Beach in East Moriches. The beach was a very special place for the Saggio family as many happy memories were made there. When they couldn’t be at the beach on Long Island, Tony and Diane would vacation with friends in Florida. Tony will be missed by so many people because he touched so many lives. He was kind and compassionate and an amazing husband, father and grandfather. He lived for his family and was actively involved in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He loved to go to see all his grandchildren in their games, plays, concerts, and dance recitals. And when he couldn’t be there he loved when they would send him pictures or texts. He became very savvy with a smart phone just so he could keep in touch with his children and grandchildren. Donations in Tony’s memory can be sent to organizations dear to his heart: Colonial Youth & Family Services, 340 Montauk Hwy., Moriches, NY 11955 and Rotary Club of Shirley and the Mastics, P.O. Box 40, Shirley, NY 11967.

William Vega, Sr., age 69, passed away at Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor. William served honorably in the United States Navy and was retired from the Ponce de Leon Federal Bank, Bronx, NY, where he was employed as branch president. He enjoyed shooting pool, hunting, baseball and was a car enthusiast. William is survived by his son; William Vega, Jr. of Flushing, NY, grandchildren; William III, Katherine, and Emily, all of Flushing, NY, sisters; Lorraine Vega of California, Elaine Vega of California, Carmen Konkel of Shirley, and close companion; Joely Rosario. Family and friends gathered for visitation at Davin’s Funeral Home, Mastic. Interment, with full Military Honors, followed at St. Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale.

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