|Birth: ||Nov. 27, 1917|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Nov. 24, 2008|
New York, USA
Sarge Funicello New Hartford Dad passed away November 24, 2008; three days shy of his 91st birthday. He was born in Utica, NY, the second child of Antonio & Congetta (Altieri) Funicello. He attended Conkling Elementary School, then Utica Free Academy; graduating in 1936. He mentioned many times that he was proud to have earned that diploma even though it meant returning for a fifth year.
On June 14, 1941 he married Nancy Rodio at St Mary Mt Carmel Church, Utica; a truly blessed union of sixty-four years until her passing on December 31, 2005. Their love and devotion to one another was inspiring and without question. Dad said when he first met her he knew they would marry, however it was Mom who proposed.
Though Dad was never in the military, and was christened Alfred Robert, he was known to everyone as Sarge. That nickname was bestowed upon him at an early age by his cousin Dick "Mud" Alberico who insisted that a character in a movie they'd seen together resembled him. Family and friends quickly adopted the moniker and the name stuck. To this day the name Sarge is recognized by many people in and around Utica.
Dad wanted to pursue his education and hoped to become an attorney. However, the Great Depression was raging and he had to work in order to help support the family of seven. On the day after high school graduation, he encountered his brother Joe who was operating an auto repair shop in a garage behind the family's home. Joe asked what Dad planned to do for a living. When Dad indicated that he was undecided, his brother suggested he help him that day by cleaning some auto parts. So began a sixty-five year plus auto mechanic career. Initially partnering with his brother, later renting space in other shops and culminating with the opening of Sarge�s Service Station, 1028 Albany St, Utica on January 20, 1956. Dad was never comfortable if he had a debt. He worked seven days a week in order to pay off the acquisition and construction loans. He accomplished that goal within four years at which point Mom said enough was enough and insisted he be closed Sundays...he complied. Dad was a voracious book reader which served him well as he studied on his own over the years to become the best he could be in his chosen profession. By all accounts he was an outstanding mechanic and businessman.
In addition to his main occupation, Dad was also an accomplished trumpet musician who played professionally from the 1930's through 1952 with various dance bands, the last of which being Ray Dimitrich's. Dad spoke about the sometimes difficult travel around New York State to play gigs and how, if they weren't "stiffed", they'd be paid two dollars per man for a night's work.
The Albany St Garage was more than simply a place for auto repairs and gasoline. It was where his sons, who at various times worked along side him, not only acquired automotive knowledge, but came to admire and respect their father. It was a gathering spot for his friends and those of his sons. On occasion the sons, who would take a work break, and their friends played whiffle ball in the vacant lot across the street (Dad wasn't always pleased with these events). The neighborhood children would frequent the Pepsi machine and Dad took an interest in their lives. Every Christmas and New Years Eves found holiday decorations in the windows and cookies on the office desk as well as something to "nip" on. In more recent years Dad and his friends would regularly meet for "coffee an", discuss how to "solve the world's problems" and admire and tend to each other's Cadillacs (which Dad thought was the finest of cars) and other vehicles. The garage is closed now, but for many, the memories will live on.
Dad wasn't a sports fan and he didn't have any hobbies although he enjoyed crossword puzzles, good cigars, wine and Utica Club Beer. Instead he shared more important things such as honesty, integrity and perseverance. He felt that a person's word was their bond and a promise given must be fulfilled. He was a well-spoken man and was always willing to offer counsel or assistance. He gave his sons an appreciation for music and guided their educational pursuits. He was elated that each earned a college degree. He took great joy in assisting with his grandchildren's rearing and they affectionately called him Dada or "Dod". His work ethic was second to none. A good example was the Monday following the blizzard of 1966. Though his car was buried to the roof in snow and over Mom's strong objection, he insisted on going to work. She finally convinced him otherwise when she pointed out that no customers would be there. He reluctantly agreed, but went the next day, traveling the one mile on foot. His love for his cherished Nancy and family was absolute. He was a man of moral conviction and strong religious beliefs who attended Catholic Mass every Sunday. He was a role model to many and will be missed by all. God bless you Dad.
Sarge leaves his sons and daughter-in-law: Anthony Funicello and his companion Lisa Eustace, Leonard & Alyce Funicello and Al Funicello and his companion Rhonda Barlow. Also granddaughters and their husbands: Noel & Jim Day, Holly & Rich Maline and Bonnie Funicello. Also great-grandchildren: Griffin, Hayden & Ava Day and Dana, Connor & Cameron Maline. Also brother Joseph Funicello, sister Elsie Cardamone and sister-in-law Nancy Funicello. Also favorite nephew and his wife Robert & Joanne Funicello. Also, adopted daughter, Linda Perrymen and close friends Dave Conti and Hank Casab. Also friends Sal and John Piazza (brothers) who shared much respect and admiration for Sarge. Sarge was predeceased by great-grandchild Aaron Maline, brother Robert Funicello, sister Ida Battle and close friends, who he sorely missed, Tony "Priest" Picente and Pat Giovinazzio.
Education was always a top priority for Sarge. Interment will take place in St. Agnes Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
Dad, you no longer need to miss Mom or experience visions of her. Though the world is a lesser place without you, may you be happy together for eternity in a Heaven richly deserved.
Saint Agnes Cemetery
New York, USA
Created by: Tom Morosco
Record added: Dec 02, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31879890