My Corner, Your Corner: Reflecting on loved ones lost in 2016 and new beginnings

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | December 30th, 2016 12:11 pm

As I look back at 2016, I say good-bye and good riddance.

There are many who had a great 2016, and to those I say good for you and I hope 2017 is even better.

Losing my mom this past April really put a damper on the rest of the year. As someone recently said to me, “The first year is always the worst.” Holidays and birthdays were not the same, and the Christmas season topped it off.

But I wasn’t the only one who lost loved ones in 2016. There were plenty of celebrities lost during the year, and it seemed to start with the loss of David Bowie.

Just this past week we lost not only Carrie Fisher, but also her mom Debbie Reynolds a day later. I had a chance to meet Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourdes this past summer, and my heart breaks for her. She lost two leading figures in her life in a 24-hour period.

Many Greater Pittston residents also passed away this year.

This year, husband and wife Joe and Gloria Anzalone, of Pittston, died within four days of each other in August. Charlie “The Carpet Man” Cupani and his wife Carmella, of West Pittston, died within months of each other.

Other notable locals who passed away in 2016: Richard Anzelmi, of Exeter, a constant figure at St. Barbara’s Parish; Angelo Anzalone Jr., of West Pittston, who every year put up a huge Christmas display; former radio personality and retired Exeter Police Sergeant Rick Belza, of West Wyoming; West Pittston Mayor Tony Denisco; former state Rep. Tom Tigue, of Hughestown.

What would a party be without chef and former Pittston resident Biagio Dente, who died Dec. 14? Attending an affair at Fox Hill Country Club won’t be the same, as banquet manager Cheryl Devers, of Wyoming, passed away Dec. 17.

With the death of Pittston Printery owner Jimmy Mulé, the City of Pittston and many others are lost without his printing services and friendship. The Majestic Lunch isn’t the same without seeing original owner Stanley Salavantis sitting in a booth.

Gene Guarilia put Duryea and Greater Pittston on the map as a player for the Boston Celtics. Where would the advancement of the Pittston Memorial Library be if not for the contribution of former Pittston resident and former president of the National Press Club John Cosgrove?

Former Pittston Area School Board member Tony Rostock and Inkerman resident Bill Baltusavich Jr. lost their courageous battles with cancer.

Cardiologist Dr. Nick Ruggiero, Wyoming Area Catholic teacher Lorraine Menn Zielinksi and retired West Pittston Public Works Department worker Ronald “Pepsi” Villano, all noted West Pittstonians, were sadly lost in 2016.

If you don’t know the name Lou Palermo, you may have seen him for the past 17 years at Walmart, where he worked before he passed away Dec. 18. Lou, of West Pittston, affectionately called everyone “honey,” no matter their gender. Lou was tiny in stature, and he always said hello with a handshake from his small hand. Never did he let you go without saying, “God bless.”

I lost three former Wyoming Area classmates in Tom Ford, Arlene Cravatta Grudkowski, and Michael “Mimo” Grabowski.

Others we lost include Avoca resident George Aldrich, Pittston Township resident Peg Melone, Pasqualina “Lena” Parente, who owned Parente’s Italian Food Center and Bakery and Parente’s Restaurant with her husband Angelo; West Pittston resident Irene Berti; and my aunt, Anna “Anita” Fanti, of Exeter.

With the loss of my mom and Aunt Anita, I’ve lost the last of Fanti aunts and uncles.

When you are young and you have great grandparents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles, it seems everyone would be around forever. Never would I think they would all be gone and I’d be the top of the heap pile, but yet, here I am.

New beginnings

There’s no question with each year passing, we hope and pray the next year will be bigger and better.

There’s a lot to be said with “out with the old and in with the new,” and there’s something about the beginning of a new year that brings a bit of optimism. Maybe you’d like to lose weight, find other job, retire or even move to a new location – having goals on Jan. 1 is always uplifting.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2017. The City of Pittston continues to move forward with progressive ideas to exceed the glamour days of yesteryear. West Pittston will finally have new sewer infrastructure, walkways and streetscaping.

The festivals in Greater Pittston will continue to get bigger and better, with more to come.

For me, all I need to do is get through winter to start feeling good about 2017.

In the meantime, Happy New Year to one and all. I hope for good health and happiness over the next 12 months!

Quote of the week

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pike, American journalist.

Thought of the week

“Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.” – Edwin Hubbel Chapin, American writer and pastor.

Bumper sticker

“Music will save the world.” – Pablo Casals, Spanish musician.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at