Remembrance- In Memory of Robert Foray and all the other Great Lions that we have lost which is too numerous and hurtful to list all.
I am in a mode of reflection of memories. You can’t help but think about losing past friends without thinking about how they have come into your life. Some of my best friends have come from being a Patchogue Lion. It is very easy to meet and maintain friends when you have like interests. I joined the Lions in 1992 and I have started friendships with people that I would have never met or talked to had I not been a Lion. I have always been an extrovert, so it has been easy for me to make friends. In joining the Lions I have met many like-minded people who all enjoy one common goal. To give back to humanity through giving back to the community. A community can be local or extend to the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 or a response to the Tsunami on 12/26/2004 in Sri Lanka.
One of the first people I recall meeting prior to being a Lion was Past President Vincent F Vinnie Liguori III whom I call affectionately “Meat” he then calls me “Doughboy”. Vinny remembered me from working at my parent’s restaurant “Pizza Prince” I was only around 10 years old and making pizzas.
The next person was Great Lion Jim “Eagle Eye” Mooney, I met Jim in my father’s garage in Bellport. I was 12 and had owned a 1938 Lincoln Zephyr V-12 with suicide doors, it was in a state of disrepair. My father along with Jim Mooney, Tony Rignola, and a handful of other older guys started a club called “Quarter Century Auto Club” we would meet in the garage and work on different cars, I was the Club secretary. Jim one time asked me what kind of car I owned Prior to my Lincoln Zephyr and I replied a 1909 OX, from then on he called me “OX”. Jim welcomed me instantly into our club.
At one of my first meetings, I remembered meeting Past President James Wilson. Jim recalled that I was in one of our basic accounting courses at Suffolk Community College in the evenings. I would get to class while still being in my work uniform from DiCarlo Distributors sometimes smelling of cheese. I had a desire to no longer drive a truck for them as I was in jeopardy of losing my driver’s license and wanted a future.
I also met Past President Robert Schwarz whom in my previous career as an IRS Revenue Agent I went to his office to meet with partner in business Jan Taraskas CPA, even though I was smitten with her we completed the Audit of one of their clients. Upon joining the club Bob welcomed as a brother and we built on that relationship ever since. Bob is a Great person and has always given of himself and his time for the betterment of the Community and Hospital no matter what it changes its name too.
I also met Lion Jon Parris another great guy whom I met while working on a fundraiser for Stony Brook Burn Center. It was the “Hollywood Allstars” versus the “Patchogue Fire Dept” as organized by my ex-wife. There was a circus in Shirley two weeks before and the temporary bleachers collapsed. Due to that incident, Fire Marshall Herb Davis stated that we could not use our temporary bleachers. He required us to make them permanent Jon and I alone worked through the night installing bolts in all the seating. We finished at about 6:00 a.m. on the day of the event. The Fire Marshall arrived and still would not sign off until Jon contacted Former Past President and Charter Member Clare Rose. The Fire Marshall came back and signed off. The event raised much-needed funds for the Burn Center. I did not see Jon again until a Lions meeting. I consider him a good friend. I recall, I was at a meeting and asked if he wanted to go to a casino over the weekend and he said no as he was going with his girlfriend Janis, his father Jake, and Vinny Morabito to Las Vegas. The next day I bought a ticket to Vegas and met them there. I had to sleep in the room with his dad and Vinny it was a snoring Festival. A great time was had by all.
As you go through life you can never be assured of how you will ever see the people that you met in a previous contact.
I met Great Lion Robert Foray along the way and take great pride in him calling me friend. I know that he enjoyed immensely being with his comrades. He worked the Festivals, the dunk tanks located at alive after 5 in Patchogue. He didn’t only attend events he participated. Despite his ill-health, he attended my Installation as President in June and was part of it when we awarded him the Robert J. Uplinger Award. I could not have been prouder of my Lionism then at that moment.
I am just recalling that some of the people I’ve met in parts of my life have come full circle. However, if it were not for the Lion’s I would never have met so many more people that I now call my friends and brothers. These people have helped me get through some of my darkest moments and some of my best moments in my life. I could discuss every member in the club and the memory that I have of each person. However, I feel I would mention someone and not mention all. I am so lucky, lucky, lucky that I have so many fond memories. The major thing is the club is the force behind starting new allegiances and friendships that have endured many hardships and celebrated many happy lifetime events.
I would like for everyone to think about incredible people that you have met in your life that were members or would make a great member. It would give you a chance to make a difference in their life. What better gift can you give them.
Please write a post or story of someone whom you have met that may have either helped mentor you or have had an impact in your life.
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Yours in Lionism,
President 2021-2022 and Past President 2003-2004
Vito W. La Monica Jr.