Good Morning……. On behalf of the Lawson and Polito
families, we are glad you are all here.
Today we are left to mourn someone who was the heart
and soul of our family. We are left to mourn
someone who was ALWAYS there for any of us when we
needed him. Joe Polito was our rock, our voice of
reason, our confidant, our friend. . . . Yet,
despite our sorrow, we're glad that his suffering is
over and that he is now at peace.
Joe died, with dignity, and that taught us patience
and acceptance. Sometimes, he grew frustrated with
his illness and that showed us his humanity. Death,
when it came, came as a friend.
That is fitting because Joe Polito was a friend to
so many during his lifetime. He was a man full of
fun and laughter and he lit up a room by his
presence. If there was a story to tell or a song to
sing, Joe was the one responsible. His presence was
the oil that made family life full of good humor.
Joe was more than just Joe. He was a son, a
brother, an uncle, a cousin, a husband, a
grandfather, but most importantly a father. And in
each of those roles he played a part. And however
we knew him, he meant something different to each
and every one of us and THAT is one of the great
mysteries of life. If ten of us were to describe
him, we would all say something different yet some
of the descriptors would be common, like: kind,
compassionate, loving, funny, generous, family
oriented, free spirited, respectful and a true
I sat with his family a few nights ago and asked for
a few stories. And one that stood out with me was
when Joe and his brother Charlie were little boys,
they had a paper route together, and their routine
was that one of them would deliver the paper and one
of them would pick up the money. But I found out
that even when they didn’t feel like delivering the
paper, they still picked up the money! I guess they
didn’t really realize back then the concept of
better business . . . but looking ahead more than 60
years, Joe did learn the concept of better business
and developed a work habit like no other, as he
worked for Allstate Insurance for 38 years, and
NEVER took one sick day, something he was, and
deserved to be, very proud of.
When Joe retired from Allstate he became a
councilman for the town of Varick, at which time Joe
requested that we address him as the Honorable Joe
Polito. The meetings were held once a month
and Joe received a small stipend for his role on
council. He was then offered a traveling job with
Allstate which had him away from home for months at
a time. So even though he would have to miss many
of his council meetings, the “Honorable Joe Polito”
still received his stipend check from the town
council. Unlike his paper route when he was a young
boy, although Joe would still take his checks, he
donated each of them to the Beverly Animal Shelter
When Joe and Louise first met, Louise brought him
to a family get-together, and his being the new kid
on the Angelo Street block, and we being protective
cousins of Louise, we all took a step back to figure
out if Joe was good enough for Louise . . . I think
we probably went into executive session at some
point to discuss Joe! . . . And while the jury was
still out, Joe sat with my Uncle Jo-Jo (who had
Downs syndrome) and the conversation went something
like this . . . Jo-Jo said . . . "Ya know Joe, HER
used to go out with a guy named Jon . . . I
really liked him . . . HER doesn’t see him anymore .
. . YOU'RE probably next!
I am sure in Jo-Jo’s own way that was his underlying
feeling that Joe Polito would be taking Louise’s
time and attention away from him . . . Jo-Jo was
testing the waters in his own way.
Well, as it turned out, after the executive session
ended with my cousins, it was unanimous . . . Joe
Polito was voted in! And believe me, that’s not
always an easy task!
None of us could figure out the wedding plans or the
wedding day, because in talking with the two of
them, they both had the same story . . . that
neither of them asked each other to get married.
Yet on November 7, 1981 the vows were exchanged . .
. And a life of love, laughter and friendship began.
Joe and Louise prided themselves on the fact that
after 31 years of marriage, they were still best
friends, and best friends they were!
So, Joe Polito became a part of our family . . . and
may I say a huge part of our family. He was
now OUR cousin . . . he was a nephew, he was a son
in law . . . oh, and Louise was still our cousin
too! When there were family get-togethers, we
would all look for Joe . . . oh, and Louise too . .
. when there were parties, we’d all invite Joe . . .
"oh yeah, and don’t forget to bring Louise too".
I’d call out to their house and ask Joe if he wanted
to go out for chicken wings and wine, and I'd say .
. . "oh, and ya might want to see if Louise wants to
There were many holidays that Louise and Joe would
host, with 30 plus people sitting down for dinner,
Louise would do the cooking, have both stoves going
. . . because we all know the “real stove” in an
Italian house is in the basement . . . She would be
setting tables, stirring the beans, basting the
turkeys, making the stuffing, tossing the salads . .
Joe, of course, would be watching football, yelling
at the TV screen . . . and after hours of
preparation and a feast fit for a king, we would all
sit down to a huge meal and thank Joe Polito . . .
oh, and Louise too!
There was a time when my Uncle Tommy introduced Joe
and Louise to a few of his friends, and Tommy said..
“Id like you to meet my nephew Joe . . . and his
Joe always joked with Louise and would say, “ya know
if anything ever happens between the two of us, you
realize it will be YOUR fault, and nobody would like
So it always went like this . . . Joe Polito . . .
oh, and Louise too. But Louise, always
remember that you were the wind beneath Joe’s wings,
the love of his life, his best friend!
I am sure Joe never thought of himself as an
inspiration to us. I am sure he never considered
that he was an example to us. But I can say he was
a great inspiration to me. When I lost my dad ten
years ago, Joe never skipped a beat. I’ll never
forget his sitting beside me and saying . . .
"whatever you need, whenever you need it, consider
it done. I’ll fill your Dad’s shoes as best I
can in what ever capacity is necessary". And he did
just that. When fun things would happen in my life,
I’d call Joe Polito and he would giggle with me,
when serious things would happen, I’d call Joe and
he became my voice of reason, when tragic things
would happen, I’d call Joe and he was right where I
needed him. It was just a given that no matter the
circumstance, Joe would appear.
Of course, there was a time before Louise, before
our family, before Angelo Street and those times
include his children, Renee, Michelle, Denise and
Charlie. You were all the light of his life.
His eyes would always sparkle when he spoke about
any of you, and they lit up even more when he would
talk about his grandchildren. He used to love to
have the house full with the Polito children and the
ten grandchildren. Those were his brightest
His children shared with me that even though Joe
wasn’t living in the house, he was always there on
Christmas morning, never missed a birthday or a
holiday while the kids were growing up, and was
present for every school function and activity . . .
AND when he showed up at Denise’s high school
graduation he took tons of pictures, what a proud
Dad . . . but it was of the wrong girl crossing the
Denise also shared with me one of her most memorable
times with her dad was when they went to Woolworths
together and Denise was about 7 years old. She had
on her MOST FAVORITE outfit . . . lime-green shorts
and a lime-green halter top. They shopped around,
purchased what they needed and when they got back in
the car, they were going through their goodies in
the shopping bag. Joe was trying to open this
little tube of something, and was struggling and
asked Denise for help, and when she tried to help
him the tube exploded and colored ink went all over
her favorite outfit . . . Denise became
hysterical. Little did she know it was invisible
ink, and a joke her Dad was trying to play on her .
. . obviously a joke gone wrong, and she cried all
the way home.
Renee reminisced about the time her son had to have
surgery when he was two years old . . . They got to
the hospital WAY IN ADVANCE in the early morning
hours. Her husband was taking a snooze in the car,
Renee was in the waiting room, and she remembers
feeling so anxious about what was lying ahead of her
with her son’s surgery, and had such a sense of
fear. When she turned to take a walk down the
hallway, there was her Dad. She said
once she saw his face, and got a big hug from him,
she knew everything would be A-OK.
Joe’s son Charlie went to most of the Buffalo Bills
football games with him and that was priceless time
that Joe and his son spent together . . . and by
“time” I mean 15-18 hour days, when they would leave
the house at 7 in the morning for a 1 o’clock game…
Buffalo Bills Fans?? I think so!
Michele called her dad every day at five o’clock.
And one day when I was visiting, Joe and I were in
the living room, Louise was upstairs ironing
something . . . the clock struck five, the phone
rang, Louise yelled down “Joe, answer the phone, its
Michelle”. And Joe said to me, "here’s
what you're going to hear me say when I pick up the
phone" . . . “Hi honey, I feel good, yeah, I ate
lunch at one, no, we haven’t eaten dinner yet, and
no, didn’t really do a lot today, just hung around".
He then picked up the phone, said hello, and I hear,
“Hi, honey, I feel good, yup, I ate lunch at 1, no
we haven’t eaten dinner yet, no, I really didn’t do
a lot today, just hung around”. And what he
DIDN’T recite was his closing comment, when I heard
him say to Michele . . . "I LOVE YOU MORE!!!"
I am so proud to say we're a blended family . . .
One big blended family. And we were all
brought together because of Joe Polito . . . Oh and
So today we mourn for someone who was a huge huge
part of ALL of our lives. I find it hard to imagine
what it's going to be like not to have him around,
and my heart is so terribly heavy.
Joe suffered but now his suffering has ended. He is
now at peace and that is a fitting end to a
wonderful life. Someday, Joe Polito, we will meet
again . . . But until that day, we will remember you
and be glad that we knew and loved you, but more
importantly, that you knew and loved us . . . and
YOU loved us more!
I hope when you arrived at heaven’s gates you were
greeted with a bottle of wine, a bowl of pasta and
Bob George waiting to sing “Hey coomattie” with you!
May you rest in peace…We all love you!