Editor's Note: the following comes from Laura Lofaro, daughter-in-law of John Lofaro, beloved local legend, who passed away on Oct. 18 and left many mourning his loss, especially his grandson. Have a letter you'd like to share with Patch readers? Send it to email@example.com or blog it here.
My father-in-law, John Lofaro passed away on October 18. If you didn't know him, all you need to do is take a walk through Sleepy Hollow and ask around. He was a member of Riverside Hose for over 40 years. He retired from GM several years ago and most recently was the crossing guard for the high school/middle school. He also had been the caretaker for Mrs. Katherine Davis (lifelong philanthropist and Tarrytown resident) since he was in high school.
John Lofaro's death comes shortly after that of Jeannette Ho's very untimely death, which leads to another coincidence, if you will. Jeannette and John's sons were close friends in and after high school. In fact Jeannette was in a room at Phelp's across the hall from John.
Much like Jeannette, John was well-loved. He gave of himself every day, never asking for anything in return. He was a true gentleman. Many of the younger firefighters in his company looked up to him like a dad. He will be missed more than words can say by so many in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. In fact, usually when a firefighter is laid to rest his own company's trucks will see him off. For John, most if not all the fire companies in Tarrytown lined Broadway near Immaculate Conception to say good-bye. That should indicate what kind of man left us recently.
My son attends Irvington High School and plays on the Varsity football team. Since being sidelined with a shoulder injury and dealing with minor depression – his grandfather's death was like the very world was ending for my son – while everyone always offers the empty promise of "what can I do to help?" few rarely help at all. Except this time. On October 20, Coffey Funeral Home became the sight of the most awesome representation of the word "Team" I've ever seen. Immediately after a game, the entire varsity team began filing in, two by two. It was a show of support and camaraderie like no other. It really was.
I feel very strongly that in this day of so many people, not only kids, behaving badly and showing a lack of moral fiber, that when a young person goes above and beyond, they should be recognized. Perhaps that might be the difference between doing right and looking the other way for even just one kid.
The following is the Thank You letter I wrote to the team. John loved going to his grandson's games when he could, and he was really quite proud of all of his grandchildren (he had six!). Knowing that those football players were there would have thrilled him to no end.
To: The Irvington Varsity Football Team.
October 26, 2012
First, I don’t even know how to begin this letter, so please bear with me as I try to convey my feelings to you all.
As you all know, your teammate and friend, Greg Lofaro, has been sidelined due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery. Some of you are dealing with or have dealt with similar experiences, so you know the pain of watching from the sidelines, wishing you could feel every hit, every bounce, and every thread of the ball in your hands. You may or may not realize that Greg has been somewhat depressed about not being out there with you. His love for the game may mask his true feelings, but believe it when I say that he has felt like he has let you down.
On top of this, Greg’s grandfather (Nonno) had taken ill in the beginning of September. A strong man, healthy in almost every way, and not an old man by any means, was stricken with Cancer. We thought we would be in for a fight. We thought it would be a fight we could win. Sadly, as it became more and more evident that this man who was a mentor to Greg, a friend…much, much more than a grandfather, would not survive, thus began the harrowing experience of preparing for the inevitable. Hopefully none of you will ever have to experience this pain. Having lost two other family members in the last two years, enough was enough, and Greg was heading toward a deeper depression. On the outside, he looked like anyone else. Happy, maybe even carefree. But he was hurting inside. A lot.
He missed a lot of practices. He felt badly about that. But Greg had family obligations that he needed to keep. He knew you all would understand. And understand you did.
On October 18, Greg’s grandfather passed away. If you could have seen Greg’s face when he heard the news, I truly believe your hearts would have ached for him. What followed two days later, however is nothing short of one of the most awesome things I have ever witnessed. At around Six-Thirty in the evening, on Saturday October 20th, Coffey Funeral Home was inundated by a sea of green. In a room stifled by grief, a sort of peaceful calm began to trickle over those in attendance, as two by two, uniformed players, straight from the field began lining up. Tears were quickly dried, as saddened eyes rose to watch, in awe, this group of fine young men who had never met the man for whom they were paying respect. “Who are these people?” some were heard asking. “Are they football players?” whispered another voice. “Are they in the right place?” someone asked me. I had the pleasure..the very distinct pleasure, of replying, “Yes. They’re here for Gregory.”
As I watched each boy…sorry, each man approach the casket, kneel down and pray, my heart filled with pride. For they were doing what I, myself had not yet been able to do. Each player then shook hands with Greg’s dad and uncle. They stopped in front of Greg’s Nonna (grandmother) to offer their condolences. They each and every one, hugged me. Some even waved to Sage (Greg’s sister). I am certain this visit to the funeral home was not an easy thing to do. Death has a pesky way of making us all uncomfortable. That said it is imperative that you all realize just exactly what you did that night.
For a half an hour, my mother-in-law did not cry. For a half an hour, my husband did not cry. For a half an hour, Greg was happy. In a half an hour, you changed our lives.
If there were any team members who could not for whatever reason attend that night, I know that your hearts were there. We all felt them.
I thank you. Greg’s dad thanks you. His nonna thanks you. And I believe that his nonno would be so very proud to know you are helping to look out for Greg.
Teamwork only works if each member is willing to be there for another. Truly you all are part of an amazing team, with coaches who set an extraordinary example. I have never been more proud to say I was once a Bulldog too.
So very sincerely,