A MAN’S MAN

70 comments

Posted on 15th June 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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FROM MARCH 2013

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I had the privilege of knowing Ray Romano for 25 years. His daughter brought me home to their house in the fall of 1988, after we had met in Avalon, NJ that summer. They lived in a big old three story twin house at the corner or Powell & Fornance Streets, across from Montgomery Hospital and around the corner from Sacred Heart Hospital, in Norristown. There were only two children left living in the house when I met him. The other seven kids had moved out and started their own families. I immediately felt at home. Ray and Cookie welcomed me with open arms. Having come from a small Irish family of five, it was hard to comprehend the craziness of an Italian family of eleven. I knew I was in for quite a ride when Dani told me she had two brothers named Steve and that I could meet her mother in another week when she got out of jail (she did a lot of time for protesting in front of abortion clinics on behalf of unborn children). I married into a more interesting version of the Brady Bunch. Ray had four children with his first wife, including a son named Steve, and after his wife’s death he married Gloria (aka Cookie) who also had a son named Steve from her first marriage. Five kids just weren’t enough. They decided four more would add a little spice to the situation. My wife was the 7th child. Most of this story was gathered second hand from listening to my father-in-law and various family members at gatherings throughout the years, so some of the details might not be exactly right.

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Ray was born in 1930 and was one of the youngest of twelve. The Romanos didn’t believe in doing anything on a small scale. He grew up in the Black Horse section of Conshohocken. His mother died when he was only sixteen. From what I could gather, it sounded like a tough area to grow up. He was a born athlete and a star baseball player in high school. It sounded like he was talented enough to make the pros, but dreams get deferred when you are poor and growing up during the Great Depression. He needed to work and help the family make ends meet. He was too young to serve in World War II, but he enlisted in the Marines when he turned 18 in 1948. I’m not sure how it happened but young Ray was selected to serve as part of President Harry Truman’s Marine Guard. I wish he had talked more about that time in his life, but my guess is that you have to be a damn fine Marine to get selected for that duty. He was lucky enough to never have gone into combat, which is amazingly lucky considering the country was at war for much of the decade from 1941 through 1953. I’m glad he was spared.

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After his time in the military he began his lifetime of producing products that built this country. He never left his roots in Conshohocken where his family remained. He began working for Alan Wood Steel in the 1950s when American manufacturing dominated the world. The steel produced by his plant helped build the Interstate Highway System and provided the framework for the skyscrapers that rose in our cities across America. Alan Wood steel was Montgomery County’s largest employer at its peak, with 3,500 employees. It began operations in the late 1800’s. Ray worked for this company during the peak of U.S. strength and prosperity. A hard working blue collar worker could earn enough to raise a family of nine. He gave the best years of his life to this company from the early 1950’s until the late 1970’s. He even gave the sight in one of his eyes to this company as a sliver of steel shot into his eye and left him blind in that eye for decades until a new procedure was able to restore his sight about 15 years ago. We all know what happened to the U.S. Steel industry in the 1970’s as cheap foreign imports and short sighted management combined to virtually wipe out the steel industry in the U.S. After years of shift work and dangerous life threatening conditions, he was laid off in 1977 when Alan Wood declared bankruptcy. This was the first time he was screwed out of his pension. When corporations go bankrupt, management floats away with golden parachutes, while the men who risked their lives and put their blood, sweat and tears into making the company a success lose their jobs and their pensions. The pittance paid out by the PBGC was a fraction of what he had earned over two decades.

I can’t imagine what he must have felt with nine kids to feed during the inflation ravaged late 1970s. But, his generation didn’t whine or feel sorry for themselves. He went to school for his plumber’s certification, worked for the parish and did whatever it took to make ends meet. Eventually, the Alan Wood plant was bought by Lukens Steel and he went back to work in the profession he was born for after a two year hiatus. He steadily moved up the ranks as management realized how valuable and talented he was. The 1980s saw a resurgence in the need for steel as Reagan rebuilt the military. Ray supervised the production of carbon and military alloy plates used in the construction of two Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carriers and alloy plate steel for projects like the Army’s Abrams tank and the Navy’s Aegis class cruisers, ballistic missiles and submarines. By the late 1980’s he had been promoted into management, proving that sometimes talent and ability are rewarded. He essentially ran the mill during his last few years prior to retirement. Forty years working in a steel plant can wear a man down and he was ready to retire at 62 years old in 1992.

This wasn’t long after I entered the picture, marrying his daughter Danielle in 1990. Having been raised in a fairly small Irish family, I wasn’t prepared for the rowdy family gatherings of the Romano clan. My first Christmas Eve at the old Norristown house in 1988 was an eye opener as they served the seven fishes and Ray made the gravy and meatballs, with his special ingredient pepperoni. The family made me feel at home immediately. Three of his sons served in the U.S. Navy, with one retiring as Master Chief Petty Officer, the highest rank achievable for an enlisted man. This always led to spirited debates about the Marine Corp and the U.S. Navy. You knew you were accepted when the brothers and brothers in law insulted you without hesitation. The insults usually center on lack of hair or excess of belly fat. I never knew what to call my wife’s dad. I don’t think I ever called him anything when we were dating. After we were married I didn’t feel right calling him dad. Once my kids were born, he became Pop to me and Pop Pop to my boys, who worshipped the ground he walked on.

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He was winding down at Lukens as our wedding approached. You could see the love and pride in his eyes as he danced with his daughter at our wedding to Wind Beneath My Wings. It was always tough fitting the whole family into a picture, but we pulled it off at the wedding.

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His retirement in 1992 marked the beginning of the best times of his life. They sold the house to Montgomery Hospital, who told them they were going to convert it into medical offices. They knocked it down and made it a parking lot. They moved to Lewis, Delaware where Cookie’s parents had a trailer in a nice park next to the Delaware Bay. They bought a double-wide trailer that was nicer than my townhouse. He bought a pontoon boat and kept it at a slip on the river adjacent to the park. They joined a golf club and opened an antique booth at an antique outlet in Rehoboth Beach. Getting screwed by corporate America didn’t end after he retired. Lukens was bought out by Bethlehem Steel in 1997. They owned a few hundred shares of Lukens and I recommended they sell before the takeover. They followed my advice and it proved to be good as Bethlehem Steel went bankrupt in 2001. This bankruptcy wiped out Ray’s second pension. He slaved for 40 years in the same steel plant, was promised a pension, and was left with the pittance from the PBGC. I helped get Cookie a job at IKEA to make up for the lost income, and she still works there today. Billionaire Wilbur Ross bought up the assets of a number of bankrupt steel companies for pennies on the dollar and sold them to Mittal Steel Company in 2005 for $4.5 billion. Not a penny went to the thousands of workers whose pensions had been obliterated. This is how capitalism works in the America of today. The rich get richer and the working man gets the shaft.

Amazingly, I never sensed an ounce of bitterness from him about being screwed over by the companies he gave his heart and soul to. This was the kind of man he was. Nothing could faze him. He was tough, stoic and always more concerned with the best interests of his family and friends than about himself. He loved playing golf, loved heading up to his family cabin in Central PA during hunting season with his brothers, loved drinking a beer while watching a game on TV, and loved spending time with his 23 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He had to bear the sadness of seeing 9 of his 12 siblings laid to rest. But, the time from 1992 through 2007 were the best times of his life. Despite being blind in one eye for decades, he was a fantastic golfer.

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This is not an exaggeration, as I’ve seen the five plaques/trophies he received for hole in ones during his lifetime. He would consistently beat his sons and son-in-laws well into his 70s. They would out drive him, but he always hit it straight and was a great putter. The trash talk was fast and furious at family parties about the beating he administered to his much younger sons on a regular basis. He golfed almost every day during these retirement years, playing on his club team, and relaxing afterwards with a beer or two. When he wasn’t teaching his grandson how to drive his boat, he was teaching him how to golf. He even had the club pro cut down a set of clubs when Kevin was four. Kevin would throw a tantrum if Pop tried to make him leave the course. He instilled a love of golf in my son that will never go away.

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Every year like clockwork on the day after Thanksgiving (always a rollicking good time at Cheryl & John’s house) he would head up to the cabin with his remaining brothers, his sons, and a hodgepodge of nephews for a week of hunting, eating, drinking and poker. As he got older, it shifted more towards the eating, drinking and poker, but his boys would usually bag a deer or two.

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All summer long it was like a hotel at the Romano double wide trailer. All of the family members would freeload on Pop Pop and Mom Mom. We had to reserve our week. The kids always looked forward to their week in Lewis as their grandparents spoiled them with Grotto’s pizza, miniature golf, rides on the Rehoboth boardwalk, and ice cream. They would take them crabbing off the bridge or for a ride on the Cape May Lewis Ferry. Pop Pop loved spending time with my boys and the rest of his grandkids, and the adults got a chance to go to the movies or out alone for a dinner. Even when they lived 120 miles away, they would just swoop in unannounced and pick up our youngsters and take them off our hands for a few hours. They loved their Pop Pop.

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My wife adored her dad. He was always there for her. The big tough steel worker had a soft spot in his heart for Dani. From the time he taught her to drink beer at the age of two (just kidding – it only looks like she was drinking that beer) until she became the first Romano to graduate college, he was always by her side. He was there for the birth of all of our kids and the first one to hold the newborns in his arms. He was a true father in every aspect.

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His selflessness was never more on display than when he agreed to move back from his retirement paradise in Lewis to become the stand in dad for two of his grandkids, when their real dad deserted them. He would do anything for his daughters. For the last six years he spent much of his time helping his children and spoiling his grandchildren. He didn’t get to play as much golf, but family was always more important to him than his own enjoyment. He gallantly fought off stomach cancer, but then got cancer in his lung. He gave it everything he had, but even the toughest men eventually succumb to the ravages of time. The last week while he struggled for breath in the hospital, there was an endless procession of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends praying for his recovery but knowing this was goodbye to a man that had brought such joy to their lives. He was a rock. He was a shining example of what it means to be a real man. His legacy lives on in the lives of his children and their children. He will never be forgotten. We are all saddened by his passing, but the fond memories and the way he lived his life will forever be an inspiration to us all. I hope he has met up in heaven with my father and they are having a beer together sitting in their recliners watching a game. I will miss you Pop. You were a man’s man.

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70 Comments
  1. TC says:

    Sorry for your loss. If every kid had a role model in their life like him, this rotten world would be such an amazingly better place.

    13th March 2013 at 5:21 pm

  2. Kill Bill says:

    Condolences to the Romano and Quinn families.

    13th March 2013 at 5:48 pm

  3. Muck About says:

    So sad to lose such a fine man. He lived a fine life and will touch his family members for many many years as he is fondly remembered and talked about…

    All the best to you and yours..

    MA

    13th March 2013 at 5:57 pm

  4. Jackson says:

    Memories and dust… That’s what we all become in time.
    Administrator, yours is an especially moving memorial and memory of your father-in-law.

    13th March 2013 at 6:01 pm

  5. Bostonbob says:

    Admin,
    You truly paint a vivid picture of a wonderful man. My codolences to you and your extended family. We should all live our lives so well and fruitfully.
    Bob.

    13th March 2013 at 6:08 pm

  6. razzle says:

    I too, am sorry for your loss.

    This man has morals, ethics, respect, courage and many other qualities. I thank you for sharing this, and carrying these qualities forward so that I, and many others, may reflect, and learn to aquire some of them for ourselves.

    13th March 2013 at 6:18 pm

  7. AWD says:

    Great tribute to a real American. They aren’t making anymore guys like him.

    13th March 2013 at 6:28 pm

  8. efarmer says:

    Jim,

    What a wonderful tribute. Solid family because of a solid family man. You guys were blessed to know him.

    EF

    13th March 2013 at 6:35 pm

  9. flash says:

    admin-He was a shining example of what it means to be a real man..

    By the time I was half -way though your eulogy, I had arrived at that conclusion.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Real men are to few and far between which only heightens the loss and sadness for US all.

    It would truly been an honor to have known Mr. Romano.

    13th March 2013 at 7:02 pm

  10. llpoh says:

    Nice story, Admin. He sounds like he was a really good, honest guy. The world needs a lot more like him.

    Re the loss of his pensions – that sucks. Fact is, anyone that is on a defined pension is in serious risk of losing it. The only pensions that are – maybe – of any value will be the ones that are fully funded and are not definde benefits and are outside the ownership of the companies/governments paying the money in, so that when they collapse they do not take the money with them.

    The state/local/fed govt pensions are all heavily at risk – particularly the first two, as they cannot print money. The vast bulk of corps have moved away from defined benefits, but some have kept control of the pension funds – which is a huge no no, as those funds wll be lost in a corporate collapse.

    People need to ensure they have enough private wealth to see them through, in addition to any pensions. If the pensions survive, all the better. But to put all your eggs in that basket is highly risky. Your Pop would not have known that back then, as honest people trusted that they were covered, and had not the history of being screwed. What a shame. It is going to happen over and over.

    13th March 2013 at 7:26 pm

  11. Zarathustra says:

    My father-in-law experience couldn’t have been more opposite. He was my mother-in-law’s second husband and he didn’t give a flying fuck about her kids, their spouses and children. He was pretty wealthy and boring. Holidays at their house were only notable for the food. If I weren’t driving I would have gotten shitty drunk and embarrassed my wife just to make things interesting. I could never decide if he was simply a lousy conversationalist or only had us over out of a sense of obligation.

    13th March 2013 at 7:31 pm

  12. llpoh says:

    I can only imagine what he thought about Z. Maybe he was a lousy conversationalist because he didn’t like talking shit about Jews all the time. Only a guess, mind you.

    13th March 2013 at 7:49 pm

  13. SSS says:

    Nice tribute to your father-in-law, Jim.

    Did you say he got 5 (!!!!) holes-in-one while being blind in one eye? I believe you did. Damn, I’ve had exactly 1 with excellent eyesight and didn’t even see the ball go in the hole. My playing partner had to tell me. And people like Ray Romano drive me nuts on the golf course. Not long off the tee, but deadly straight and good around the greens ….. they’re fun to watch, though. Never, ever make a one-on-one bet with the Ray Romano’s of the golfing world. They’ll have you for lunch every time.

    Dani was blessed with such a fine father. And you have pointed out exactly why.

    (P.S. I noted that tidbit of you and Dani meeting in Avalon NJ, hence the origin of her screen name.)

    13th March 2013 at 7:58 pm

  14. fwiw imho says:

    Well done, Ray. You did good!

    13th March 2013 at 8:04 pm

  15. Razzle says:

    @ Zara

    I understand your position. I really do.

    This time is for mourning and reflection.

    The host of this blog is reminissing and sharing his loss.

    Your time will come. In a different venue.

    13th March 2013 at 8:22 pm

  16. AWD says:

    Dani is an even cooler name than Avalon

    61st Beach Avalon New Jersey
    avalon_large.jpg

    13th March 2013 at 8:33 pm

  17. Novista says:

    admin, a great tribute to a real man. His loss is well outshone by the example he set and his gift will remain in the all the lives he touched.

    L.P. Hartley wrote, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” and some denizens of the 21st Century, many, would think such a biography as you presented as foreign and maybe ancient history. I guess that America is, a parable of what we’ve lost.

    13th March 2013 at 8:37 pm

  18. Administrator says:

    I made my move in The Princeton Bar & Grille on 21st & Dune after buying her 3 Long Island Ice Teas.

    13th March 2013 at 8:43 pm

  19. llpoh says:

    Admin – I figured it would be something like that. No way a classy lady like Avalon would have had anything to do with you if she had been sober. I just wonder how you have managed to keep her plied with drinks continuously all these years?

    13th March 2013 at 8:46 pm

  20. Administrator says:

    “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

    Francis of Assisi

    13th March 2013 at 8:49 pm

  21. Ginny Romano Nevedale says:

    Dear Aunt Cookie and my cousins,

    I am so very sorry for the loss of Uncle Ray. He was always a special guy to me. I remember always having fun visiting your house with all the kids and noise. As we grew up, although we didn’t see each other that often, whenever we did, we picked up right where we left off. I had the privilege of seeing Uncle Ray more often since he would visit my dad when I was there. He will truly be missed.
    Love, Ginny

    13th March 2013 at 8:57 pm

  22. ALEXISTAN says:

    Condolences on your lost. He is the steel that made this nation great and sustains us even now, after his passing.

    Thank you for sharing his (and your) story.

    13th March 2013 at 8:58 pm

  23. AWD says:

    Great combo

    italian_irish_tile_coaster.jpg?height=160&width=160
    th_irish-italian.jpg

    13th March 2013 at 8:59 pm

  24. Eddie says:

    A very fitting tribute to a real American hero. Just know that he will always be with you. Love never dies. My condolences to you all.

    13th March 2013 at 9:08 pm

  25. SSS says:

    “I made my move in The Princeton Bar & Grille on 21st & Dune after buying her 3 Long Island Ice Teas.”
    —-Admin, on how he met Avalon

    Actual photo of Admin teaching his sons on how to “make a move.”

    3826803-chess-master-making-smart-move.jpg

    13th March 2013 at 9:17 pm

  26. Thinker says:

    What a great way to memorialize a great man. I was lucky to have a father like that; he’s been gone almost 10 years now. The memories live on but, perhaps more importantly, so do the life lessons and the need to pass on his spirit to the next generation.

    Dani and Jim, thanks for sharing him with us. Would that there were more like him in the world.

    13th March 2013 at 9:25 pm

  27. chen says:

    “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” good show.

    13th March 2013 at 9:27 pm

  28. Zarathustra says:

    Sorry Razzle, I didn’t mean to polllute the thread. I’ll leave that up to the a small, petty man who goes by the name of Llpoh. Reading this just made me think about what I had been missing, inlaw-wise.

    13th March 2013 at 9:54 pm

  29. Some Guy Commenting On JQ's Blog says:

    To Dani/Avalon: My deepest condolences. There is a place in our souls where the cold wind of emptiness that pass into the void such pillars of life once stood that make brothers and sisters of strangers. You will certainly be in the prayers and thoughts of many.

    To James: A beautiful tribute… enough to convey emotions and express something often forgotten: That legacy is more than material. My condolences to you.

    To Ray’s grandchildren and great grandchildren, if they should pass over some guy commenting on JQ’s blog:

    If what I read is correct and you loved and idolized your grandfather whether it be because he spoiled you, taught you, inspired you, provided for you in times of need or all of this and more…. Remember. Do not forget. If what I just read is any indication, then remember his admonishments and what you did to make him proud alike. Remember what mattered to him, why, and how. Remember the selflessness, the duty, the sheer magnitude of what he faced and the joy he gave nonetheless.

    Let his memory live with you and as you grow, revisit him. You will grow closer to him as your own years pass and maybe…. just maybe…. be yourself exactly what he was to you and to others. If that should happen, you will have truly lived a great life.

    And your grandfather will henceforth live with you on and on through your own adventures to the twilight of your own life and beyond.

    13th March 2013 at 10:28 pm

  30. Kill Bill says:

    But congratulations on gaining a new guardian Angel.

    Do not cry for what you have thought you lost.

    Instead, be happy for what you have gained.

    A toast is due.

    13th March 2013 at 11:11 pm

  31. Jackson, who puts family first, says:

    I commented above on Administrator’s eulogy for his father-in-law, Ray Romano, but have thinking more about Administrator’s comments. I have some to add.

    Re: “His selflessness was never more on display than when he agreed to move back from his retirement paradise in Lewis to become the stand in dad for two of his grandkids, when their real dad deserted them. He would do anything for his daughters. For the last six years he spent much of his time helping his children…. He didn’t get to play as much golf, but FAMILY WAS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT TO HIM than his own enjoyment.” [emphasis added.]

    I’m most impressd by this.

    I owe much of my success of my life to sacrifices my parents made for me and their support. I’ve tried to be supportive of my children and to let them know I believe in them.

    For those of you have children and grandchildren, I suggest you follow Ray Romano’s lead: Put your family, your children and your grandchildren first. Help them when they need it and help them get ahead. If you do it right, as Ray Romano did, your kids will appreciate your support and they won’t take advantage of you. Your kids and grandkids will love you for supporting them. Your kids and grandkids’ lives and success will be more meaningful to you than golf and your own pleasures ever could be.

    13th March 2013 at 11:34 pm

  32. Carlos says:

    wonderful testimony!
    Thank you!

    14th March 2013 at 12:46 am

  33. AKAnon says:

    Admin-A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Yes, a man’s man indeed. He was, clearly, a blessing to Avalon, you and your family. God bless.

    14th March 2013 at 12:58 am

  34. chen says:

    Zarathustra says:

    “Reading this just made me think about what I had been missing, inlaw-wise.”

    Zar, i steal photos from this site shamelessly as there are no rules. Likewise, i would steal this memory. Just dump your own and adopt this wonderful life. That is the same thing we accomplish when we watch movies, we forget our own lives and live through someone else’s.

    As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

    14th March 2013 at 1:01 am

  35. Kill Bill says:

    i steal photos from this site shamelessly as there are no rules. Likewise, i would steal this memory. Just dump your own and adopt this wonderful life -Chen

    Thats not omly sad but incongruous, but as stalkers go, it fits.

    Space, you dont want to be chen

    14th March 2013 at 1:29 am

  36. backwardsevolution says:

    Admin – I really enjoyed reading that. It was beautifully written, and it brought tears to my eyes. Pop seems like he was such a good man, and that he was admired for all the right reasons. Take care.

    14th March 2013 at 1:59 am

  37. Stucky says:

    OK, I’ll be the one to say it. When I read, — “I had the privilege of knowing Ray Romano for 25 years….” — I thought to myself, “Holy crap! A story about that TV-guy on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’!”

    Alas, the story was about an even better Ray. Beautiful tribute, my man!

    Ray Romano, 1930 – 2013. We don’t have any control over the first date, and very little control over the second date. But we have a lot of control over “the dash’ in between. And it sounds like Ray Romano made the very most and best of it. One more can one do?

    Mr. Romano will hear these words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

    14th March 2013 at 4:40 am

  38. napari says:

    Hello admin,
    I’d like to extend my condolences to you , your wife, and all your family!
    This soul will not be forgotten as it impacted so many in so many good ways.

    14th March 2013 at 4:52 am

  39. card802 says:

    I can’t say anything more than what has already been said. For all the shit that is happening around us, it’s still family that matters most. Your father in law sounds like he was a great guy to know, and to learn from.

    A Mans Man, born in 1930, the Silent Generation, earning your own way, family is first, you can not only take shit but you can dish it out, but you never complain about your lot in life, you make the best of it because you love your family so.

    He and many like him built this country into what it was, it’s the greedy and the power hungry that have made this country into what it is by theft.

    Ray, if there is a God he will welcome you, and I hope there is a hell for the corrupt.

    14th March 2013 at 7:17 am

  40. Cynical30 says:

    Condolences Quinn family. We appreciate you sharing this with the world along with your outlook and point of view on economics and government. No matter what you read about debunking the lies and propaganda, nothing is more moving, thought provoking and life changing than the personal stories of real life heroes.

    14th March 2013 at 9:40 am

  41. Vincent says:

    Condolences to you all. A fine tribute.

    Reminded me of my grandfather. 42 years at the steel mills in NW Indiana.
    The same kind of stand up fella. Quiet and gentle. Bought a house and raised 5 kids on that steelworker’s salary.
    He only lived three years after retirement, but I have good memories, as every Sunday the entire clan gathered at the house for a real family meal, and a little fun and joking.
    What’s happened to those sorts of times?

    14th March 2013 at 10:36 am

  42. stalker says:

    Killer, I’m not a linear thinker, I’ve also enjoyed your short stories, someday I may say– I have a buddy used to work on tankers at tinker…
    I recalled dr. pangloss’ anecdote about wrapping family stories with a bow and saving them in the heart. I half remembered an article that said stories we tell others become theirs to modify and use as their own. I recalled a ‘quote of the day’ that said human beings are the only creatures that can learn from other’s experiences. All these ideas were floating in my head when I advised Zar to take this lovely story and keep it in his heart.

    14th March 2013 at 11:09 am

  43. sensetti says:

    Admin what a great tribute to a fine man. Thank you so much for sharing his story.

    14th March 2013 at 12:41 pm

  44. JT says:

    God speed Ray. You demonstrated God’s love.

    14th March 2013 at 2:51 pm

  45. Pete says:

    Admin: What a great tribute you wrote to a great man.

    In writing this you also wrote an obituary for this country. The details varied, but the basics of this could have been written about my father-in-law or my grandfather or my father.
    What many young people today do not realize is that there was a time not too long ago when a man, without benefit of a college degree or a high school diploma, could work a job and support his family. His wife could stay home and raise the children and make a nice home. They could take vacations and even buy a vacation cabin. Now a man and wife, burdened with student loans, each work jobs that they probably hate, and live paycheck-to-paycheck, and never know the joy and contentment that your father-in-law got from his work and his family.

    RIP Ray.

    14th March 2013 at 3:25 pm

  46. Rob in Nova scotia says:

    My condolences Jim. You wrote a great tribute.

    14th March 2013 at 4:58 pm

  47. Administrator says:

    This was the beautiful eulogy written by Dani’s sister Jackie and read by Jackie’s daughter Jill. There wasn’t a dry eye in the cathedral.

    It all began in 1961 for us. Pop married his beautiful bride, Cookie. Pop had 4 kids, Cookie had 1. Together they had 4 more. The family bonded and eventually no one knew who was a half or a step or a child of both. All were genuinely loved more than you could imagine. From this union grew 9 children, 7 in-laws, 23 grandchildren, 5 more in-laws, and 15 great grandchildren. All are still loved and there are none among us here in the Romano family who do not get along with one another, who do not love each other or who would not do anything to help one another. That is a great accomplishment Mom-mom and Pop-pop, you both should be very proud.

    Pop worked very hard at the steel mill. He always made sure his family had what they needed in life. There were summer vacations at the beach, there were trips to the mountains, and family picnics to Lake View Park. Birthday gifts were given to each and every one of us, down to the last great grandchild! Christmas gifts were abundant, bikes, wagons, you name it, it was under the tree.

    I remember when Mom-mom and Pop-pop would come over on Christmas with our gifts. We would open them, and thank them so much. Then when Mom-mom left the room, Pop would roll his eyes at our gifts and hand us 10 bucks and say Merry Christmas! Pop was a hardworking proud man. He made sure we were safe and happy in life. All he expected in return was a foot massage while he fell asleep on the sofa. He even rewarded us for that with a sip of beer or a candy bar.

    Pop raised his children to be hard workers and providers for their own families. We all strove to match his example.

    He certainly enjoyed life, as we know from his never ending gift of storytelling. His stories were great! People would come to our family functions and find a set next to him for the evening. His stories are repeated on many occasions by friends and grandchildren who enjoyed listening to them. Everyone says, “He just liked to enjoy life”. Pop never understood why people would be so miserable in this short time here on Earth. He would never judge anyone, but you often heard the comment…”ah he’s so miserable, and I don’t know why!!” He found humor in every situation. He would often be having a serious conversation with a doctor, or someone “important”, but as soon as that person walked away, he would roll his eyes and shake his head. He was so easy going. Some of his children say he never ever raised his voice to them, some of the other children, not so much!!

    Pop enjoyed his retirement years with Cookie. They traveled to Hawaii, to Florida, California. They never sat still. They always played golfed with family and friends. Pop was very talented on the golf course, and when he paired up with his best friend Rocky, they were unstoppable!

    Pop always helped his family and watched over all of them for all of these years. He would babysit Jack and Ava and even though they wore him out he would never say no. We sometimes would go to relieve him of his duties only to find him asleep on the sofa, worn out! But he never stopped living his life to the fullest.

    We are all here today because of Pop. He had such charisma, and we all adored him and loved him with all that we have in our hearts.

    It was a tough task for him to watch over the Romano family, to keep us safe, but he did it without asking for anything in return.

    Now he is watching over us still, but hopefully his job will be a little easier from now on! Rest in Peace, Pop, we will miss you every day!

    14th March 2013 at 8:05 pm

  48. Dave Doe says:

    Jim,

    Moving tribute to what was obviously a great man using the standards that count. Reminds me of my dad.

    How is it that we’ve gone from that to the ethics and behavior of the Boomer Generation. Sad.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

    14th March 2013 at 11:51 pm

  49. Marie & Albert (Halfy) Romano says:

    Speaking for Ray’s brother and myself, to Jim, may I say that you brought back a flood of memories along with the tears , as emotional as it is to read, just the day after we laid him to rest.
    Ray was not only “Halfy’s” brother, but one of his best friends. He would call on a regular basis and stop by for a visit, especially after learning that his brother had developed serious medical issues of his own.
    For years, they belonged to the Mt Carmel Hunt Club and made their yearly trek to the Club’s cabin in Centre Co., leaving the day after Thanksgiving. “Halfy’ never enjoyed driving long distances, so Ray did all the driving – he seemed to thrive on driving. When they weren’t hunting they told tall tales about their expeditions up on “Big Brushie”. They were often golfing buddies.

    We were god-parents to Tony, their child #8 and our 5 children were in the same age group and attended Bishop Kenrick H.S. together. Ray and Cookie raised 9 of the nicest kids to whom we claim as nieces and nephews. To me, he was the brother I never had and we both loved him dearly.

    May God “Hold you in the palm of His Hand”.

    Marie & ‘Halfy’

    15th March 2013 at 8:21 pm

  50. Mrs. Raymond Romano (Cookie, Mom, Mommom) says:

    My dear daughter and son-in-law, what a wonderful tribute for your dad. He was so very proud of you and all of his Grandchildren. We are the blessed ones. We have a wonderful and exciting life thanks to our loving family. We are grateful to our Lord Jesus for allowing us the privilege of raising His special creations. Thanks, Jim, for your support with my pro-life activities which included prison time. You even got my job at IKEA which provided great health benefits for all of pop’s cancer treatments. He was an eight year survivor thanks be to God. Everyone please keep our Grand-daughter, Jennifer, in your prayers. She is dealing with ovarian cancer, is only 28, and has 3 children and a loving husband .

    15th March 2013 at 9:49 pm

  51. elby says:

    The foundation of our country are the Ray Romanos. Hard working family men. More important than the steel he made, was the family he raised. That is the structural steel of our nation. We need more like him.

    I am sorry for your loss, but glad for his life and what it meant to so many people.

    15th March 2013 at 11:14 pm

  52. AKAnon says:

    Likewise-I’m not much for bible-thumping, but God bless the Romano clan. And the Quinns. Ya’ll have pulled your weight, and then some.

    16th March 2013 at 12:31 am

  53. Administrator says:

    I don’t know if anyone else noticed at the cemetary, but during the ceremony when the two Marines unfurled the American flag and Taps began playing the clouds parted and the sun came shining down upon the American flag. It was cloudy and cold all day. I didn’t see the sun shining at any time before that moment or after that moment. I took it as a sign that Pop was looking down upon his family and smiling.

    16th March 2013 at 10:00 am

  54. Judy says:

    I didn’t notice that Jim, but I’m glad you told us. Thanks!

    16th March 2013 at 1:07 pm

  55. IndenturedServant says:

    A great tribute to a life well lived admin! My condolences to the Romano and Quinn families.

    Reminds me of the grandfather I wish I had known better. He too had, and supported an enormous family working at the Steel Mill in Pueblo, CO.

    I too have only one eye. I think we excel at some things because one eye forces us to focus more!
    I_S

    17th March 2013 at 7:40 pm

  56. captain says:

    I only wish my son-n-law feels the same about me as you did about your father-n-law…one question, did he ever have “the conversation” with you…you know the one about, “if you treat my daughter, badly, you’ll never survive the experience…”

    17th March 2013 at 11:26 pm

  57. Davido says:

    Thank you! Well done.

    18th March 2013 at 1:32 pm

  58. ssgconway says:

    My condolences. Rest in Peace, sir.

    22nd March 2013 at 1:40 pm

  59. fool on the hill says:

    Jim,

    He shared a conviction common to all good people,

    He wanted to make a difference.

    Mr Romano obviously succeeded.

    16th June 2013 at 10:18 pm

  60. Test | MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TBP TO YOU says:

    […] this was an extremely heart breaking year for me and my family as we lost my father-in-law Ray Romano, my young niece Jen Romano, and my son’s best friend Tyler Rizol far too soon. These tragic […]

    27th January 2014 at 4:23 pm

  61. Sensetti says:

    This right here is Admins finest work. Well done, very well done

    8th March 2014 at 1:58 pm

  62. T4C says:

    Thank God for memories. Having the ones we love leave physically is sooo damn painful. Without the salve of memories the pain would never go away.

    On my way now to the memorial service for my 27 year old niece (she was cremated) who passed-away this past Monday from H1N1, leaving two beautiful young boys……sigh….. nothing else to say.

    8th March 2014 at 2:04 pm

  63. Chicago999444 says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a truly wonderful man. He will live as long as you keep him in your hearts and your memories, and pass along his story to your children, and theirs.

    They were great generation, the Silents, these hard-working, stoic, generous people who gave so much and asked for so little. They were grateful for what the post-war era they came of age in gave them, and they tried their best to pass a better world on to their offspring. This is the generation of Americans most beloved to me, not the least because it includes my parents.

    May your great father-in-law rest in peace, along with my beautiful mother, who passed a year ago next Friday.

    8th March 2014 at 2:14 pm

  64. Avalon says:

    Thank you for posting this, thank you for writing this. Whenever I read it, I think I will be fine, and will get through it without starting to cry. But that never happens.

    T4c I’m very sorry about your niece that’s so sad.

    8th March 2014 at 7:21 pm

  65. Tommy says:

    I’m late to the party, but although I’ve read this before – I took my time and re-read it again. There’s a lot of fine pieces on TBP, but this is a keeper. When I married, I told my wife I wanted to build a family that grew strong and overlooked stupid petty shit. We’ve started it, and I hope – really, really hope we can get to what you have. God bless.

    8th March 2014 at 10:17 pm

  66. TE says:

    Thank you for re-running this one.

    There are many men, great men, gifts to the world, that never get recognition, nor earthly wealth.

    Their wealth is measured in the people that love and adore them. From the ripples of goodness that they sent forth throughout those lucky enough to know them.

    Avalon’s dad was one such man. Thank you for sharing with us.

    15th June 2014 at 12:08 pm

  67. Stucky says:

    Pop pop lived a life worth living and left behind a tremendous legacy.

    We men, who are dads, should all be so fortunate.

    15th June 2014 at 12:47 pm

  68. overthecliff says:

    We would all do well to be men like that.

    15th June 2014 at 4:58 pm

  69. Jim says:

    Without a doubt, the best piece ever seen on these pages. Better even than the always insightful/hilarious retail rattle stories. Thanks.

    15th June 2014 at 5:07 pm

  70. SSS says:

    Great reread, Admin. Worth a TBP retread for ….. a long, long time. Missed this line on the first read.

    “Dani (aka Avalon, Admin’s wife) told me she had two brothers named Steve and that I could meet her mother (Cookie) in another week when she got out of jail. She did a lot of time for protesting in front of abortion clinics on behalf of unborn children.”

    Mama mia, talk about marrying into a strong-willed family. I would have loved to have met Pop Pop and Cookie.

    15th June 2014 at 8:44 pm

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