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“Mike was my hero. He bowled on our first place team five years in a row. I had moved away so lost contact with him. I was looking up his name and...Read More ยป
1 of 2 | Posted by: Sylvia Prosnak - Boca Raton, FL

“We've never met but as i am reading your obituary with a tear in my eye , I am comforted knowing that your soul is resting in peace. ”
2 of 2 | Posted by: Frank - New Haven, CT - N/A

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I want to tell you about the life of a quiet man.

He was made quiet by birth as he could barely hear, could only see out of one eye, had a speech impediment and slight slowness in some areas of comprehension. He needed splints on his legs to straighten his shins but his toes were always turned up in an odd way. He spent most of his childhood in silence until he got a hearing aid the size of a large transistor radio that he had to wear around his neck. I would see him sit in gatherings waiting for people to talk to him but very few would because talking to him was a task. But he would always smile.

At that time, the NYC school system use to combine instruction to all children who had disabilities in one grade. There were epileptics, Down's Syndrome, deaf children from age 7 to 12 in the same classroom irrespective of mental capacity. Somehow he made it through and was mainstreamed into a regular class in junior high school. Children would talk about him and make fun of him cause of the boombox around his neck. My job was to sign and mouth words to him to let
him know what they were saying. Those children were in trouble once he found out.

He made it to high school and became the only one-eyed pitcher in the league. He would get his bead on the plate by taking a mental picture from one pose and then shifting his head so that his right eye was where his left should have seen. He had a nasty fast ball. He struck out Eddie Kranepool on four pitches who was soon to be a New York Met. He graduated, which in the early 60's in the South Bronx was no mean feat. Disability or no disability. Almost forgot to mention he was an avid bowler and fisherman.

Now to get a job. Who would hire him? His disabilities were obvious, experience nil and his prospects dim. He spent the next two years taking the want ads in one hand and subway tokens and a sandwich in the other and combed the streets of New York. Finally he was given a chance to work in housekeeping at Flower Fifth Avenue, a hospital in Harlem. He could not have been prouder or happier with his life. He had a uniform which gave him purpose and a sense of belonging. No task was beneath him. He was given the responsibility of cleaning the dialysis wing and the AIDS ward when no one would want to work there for fear of contagion. He sang while he worked (off key cause he couldn't hear himself). Twenty nine years of service followed. Joyfully and faithfully.

The last 15 years have not been kind to Michael. An incident at the hospital where he worked left him with crushed disks in his spine which forced him to retire. Subsequent strokes left him paralyzed on his dominant side and put him permanently in a wheelchair. So since he couldn't work he took great joy in volunteering twice a month at a food pantry welcoming over 600 families a month as they came in to be served. He even had groupies who asked after him when he could not be there. He died on Thursday, July 16, 2015.

Mike frequently told me that he was doing the best he could. And he did. I have seen people blessed with so much more than Michael do a lot less with what God bestowed upon them. He's my hero.

He'll be viewed on Tuesday, July 21 from 4pm - 8pm at:
Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home, Inc.
726 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, New York 10462
(718) 828-1800

Burial service Wednesday, July 22 at 11am at:
St. Raymond's Cemetery
2600 Lafayette Avenue
Bronx, New York 10465
(718) 792-1133
Our Savior Section
Range 95, Plot 66