A reader can relate to this story:
As I found out when my 98-year-old mother died in May 2012, obituaries are billed like classified ads. My mother was very frugal and would have been outraged if we spent hundreds of dollars her obituary. We did want all of her friends to know that she had died, so I spent hours editing and re-editing until everything we wanted to say had been deleted and we were left with little more than the relevant names and dates. A large city paper was totally unhelpful, but the obituary sales person at the smaller paper was a sympathetic, helpful editor. Since then I read long obituaries quite differently.
My parents passed in 2010, three months apart. My dad’s obit was $1,100 and my mom’s $900. And this was in a small coastal New England city of about 30K. We also placed the obits online. It was free and there was a comment option. You had the choice of keeping the comments up for free for 90 days, or longer for a price.
The online option was amazing. Hundreds of comments were written. The outpouring of kindness and memories was wonderful. The number of comments from far away was interesting as well. People who had moved away and heard from friends or family regarding our loss, and many who simply still followed the local news online.
How about posting that war hero’s obituary on the Dish so it’s read by hundreds of thousands of people? That would bless the socks off that reader of yours – and probably the old man, too, wherever he is.
Well, I contacted the reader and asked permission (including the photograph of a member of the greatest generation’s flight crew). Below is the obit in full. It reminds me why I love America:
Carmen Grasso, 90, passed away on Friday December 28 at Veterans Hospital in Syracuse, NY after a brief illness, surrounded by his family. He was born on April 13, 1922 in Rome, NY, one of eight children of Joseph and Antonina Grasso. After graduating from Rome Free Academy, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corp. He served as a B-24 pilot in World War II and flew 35 missions over Germany, France and North Africa. He earned the rank of Captain and was awarded a Service Medal with three bronze stars and an Air Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Clusters. He resigned from reserve duty with a rank of Major.
He earned a B.A. from Syracuse University and a J.D. from New York Law School. Upon graduation, he established a successful law practice in Syracuse, NY and was a partner of the firm Rizzo, Aloi, Grasso and Urchioli. Throughout his career, he served on numerous boards and committees, including the Onondaga County Bar Association Grievance Committee. In 1961, he and a group of friends founded the Pompey Hills Golf and Country Club, where he established the annual Father Charles Borgognoni Golf Tournament, a charity fundraiser. Later, he became a member of the Cavalry Club.
He was active in local Syracuse politics and was a member of the Lincoln Republican Club and Young Republicans Club, where he met his wife, Ida Antonazzi, in 1957. He served on the Town of DeWitt Zoning Board and belonged to the Rotary Club. He sang with the Berlitz Choral Group and a local barbershop quartet; served on the boards of Civic Morning Musicals and the Syracuse Opera Club; and was a long-time supporter of the Syracuse Symphony.
He raised his family in Manlius, NY, then, in 1997, retired to Annapolis, MD and later Lexington, VA in order to be close to his sons and grandchildren. In 2008, he returned to Fayetteville, NY with his wife.
His family and friends will remember Carmen for his sense of humor, charm, creativity and always-optimistic outlook on life. He is survived by his wife, Ida; sister Natalie Malone; sons Joseph, Thomas and Christopher; and four grandchildren. A family memorial stone will be placed at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Fayetteville, NY. A memorial mass will be held in the spring.
(Photo: Carmen Grasso’s Flight Crew V2. He’s on the far left, back row.)