Thomas Anthony Napolitano

September 23, 1926, May 07, 2019

Thomas Napolitano

Gaetano Antonio Napolitano was born September 23, 1926 in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest of five children and was adored by his Italian immigrant parents John and Mary Napolitano, who affectionately deemed him “the baby” of the clan—an identity which would last a lifetime. Gaetano was devoted to his entire family, especially his mother. His respect and love for her was palpable. His mother played a principle role in his character and faith formation, thereby preparing him for his future role as husband, father, son-in-law, brother-in-law, father-in-law, and ultimately grandfather and great-grandfather.

Gaetano officially became known as Thomas when his first-grade teacher changed his name and told him it was too difficult to pronounce and unbefitting a first generation American. Thomas being a people pleaser, immediately acquiesced, as did his parents and siblings. Hence, Gaetano became Thomas, became Tommy, became Tommy Nap—the name by which he was identified throughout his life. It is important to reveal the man behind the name—a name in which he was always proud. The son of Italian immigrants, he took pride in his birthplace and the opportunities provided to him. His parents owned a bread bakery and as a young boy, he would often work beside his father proofing dough, operating ovens and delivering bread in a wagon led by the beloved Charlie, the horse who embarked on the daily route by rote. Thomas enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Philippines and Korea during World War II. He often recalled the events of that period, revealing it was a privilege and honor to serve the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.

In 1948 he met Maria Brigida Ferrante on a blind date, and it was love at first sight. He and Mary married in 1950; his mother-in-law Vita, a widow, was charmed from the start. It seemed the adage of a young man who loves his mother will love his wife was befitting in his case. In fact, not only did he love his wife, he loved his mother-in-law as well. She resided with Mary, Tommy and their children Maryann, John, and Vincent until her death in 1970. Yet, another example of the man—the Tommy Nap everyone knew and loved. He developed a routine which  included visiting his mother every day after work and bringing his family to visit her and his sister Sadie every Sunday after nine o’clock Mass. Indulging in a freshly fried meatball became the bonus; however, it did not take long for this weekly reward to become the focus of a friendly feud between both families when comparing the Neapolitan and Sicilian versions of a meatball recipe.

Tommy Nap loved Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and was employed by the New York City Department of Sanitation, a job that provided benefits and security for his family. He loved the City of New York for affording him the opportunity to become a homeowner. His income was limited; however, if anyone experienced hardship, he provided assistance. His wife Mary would often say, “How could a man who earns the least help the most?” His standard response to any dilemma was “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” And he did. Sometimes he worked as many as four jobs at a time. He was such a special guy; he never complained. This man did everything in his power to support his family and assist others. As summer approached, he sat at the kitchen table and counted all of the change he had saved throughout the year in Nescafé coffee cans. He used this money to take the entire family, mother-in-law included, to Lake George where he provided a respite from the city, the concrete and the intensity of the summer heat. Tommy Nap was the man upon whom everyone depended. His wife and children knew they were loved, and he would openly demonstrate it and say it—he would utter those words during a period in history when it may not have been customary for a man to express his emotions. He made family members aware of his unconditional love and devotion. Through his progeny, his identity took on different dimensions; he went from being “Dad” to “Papa Tom,” and he lived up to the responsibility and enjoyment each role brought with it. The sun rose and set with all of his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. He loved Gina’s husband Doug and Laura’s husband Pat. He always referred to them as his own. While he was Confirmation sponsor to Doug, his grandson Pat assumed the role of personal bookie for all major horse races.

Although Christmas always brought presents, Italian traditions were at the forefront of every meal, celebration and holiday. Tommy Nap instilled that being American was most important but being immersed in Italian culture and following Italian customs must be adhered to ad literram. It was Tommy Nap who did without as he made certain Valentine's Day brought elaborate Loft’s hearts filled with chocolate candy, and Easter brought stuffed bunnies and candy filled baskets not only for his daughter, sons, and wife, but also his mother and his mother-in-law. He was the shopper; he would hide gifts in the hallway—never ever expecting anything in return. When he was the recipient of a gift, he tearfully responded “Thank you. Thank you.” Tommy Nap taught his children how to love and how to share through his every word and deed. He manifested the love of the Father. He worked until he was eighty-five years old. His colleagues, who were much younger than he, routinely called to check on him and to discuss work and family, often seeking his advice. He was good to the core.

Tommy Nap loved God and was devoted to the Blessed Mother, and as he entered church, he would grin from ear to ear and whisper, “I have to go see my girlfriend.” His family members knew that meant he was going to light a candle to the Blessed Mother and recite his Hail Mary’s. He was quite a character! His favorite hymn was “Here I Am Lord.” 

He loved a good dish of pasta, a good piece of bread, a good bottle of wine, a good cup of demitasse with Sambucca and a good cannolo. As far as he and Mary were concerned life revolved around faith, family, food, and the kitchen and dining room tables. Ultimately, their penchant for cooking and devotion to family earned them a spot on the Cooking Channel’s Mo Rocca’s: My Grandmother’s Ravioli. Tommy Nap was revered as the head of the family, and Mary doted on him in deference to his role. However, this was not to be misunderstood, for it was he who became Mary’s caretaker when she was seriously ill— he was always first to run to the rescue.  He indulged in every meal prepared by Mary with gusto, gratitude, deliberation and sheer delight, particularly when he was surrounded by his wife, children, son-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If anyone were to ask him if he was happy, he would respond, “Are you kiddin’ me? Look what I have!” He loved to plant Italian vegetables and was a master gardener before the term was coined.  He loved a good joke and was the consummate jokester and storyteller. 

He loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Yankees and the Giants. He loved music, particularly the Big Bands and crooners: Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Roselli (renowned Neapolitan tenor), Vic Damone, Frankie Lane, Jerry Vale, Julius LaRosa, Lou Monte, Louie Prima, Rosemary Clooney, and Tony Bennett. In fact, while Tony Bennett’s “Smile” was a song he sang in the face of adversity, it was Jimmy Roselli’s rendition of “Oh Marie” he sang to his wife Mary, much to her delight. Oh, how he loved Mary. He took pride in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and encouraged them to “always look up.” He advised them to regroup and reassess as he begged the question, “Why would [you] look at the ground when [you] can look at the sky?” He was old fashioned— an honest man, one of integrity. He never understood the need for a lawyer when a man had his word and his handshake to seal any deal and honor any commitment. Everyone who met him and knew him, from his peers to the power players in his arena, loved him, consulted him, trusted him, included him, and respected him. 

On June 17, 2013 Thomas Anthony Napolitano and his wife Mary moved from Long Island, New York to Beaumont, Texas. He left his home but his allegiance to the great state of New York, his birthplace, never waned. Although a die-hard New Yorker, he ultimately assimilated and embraced the culture and traditions of Southeast Texas and forged relationships with Brenda and Georgia of the deli department at HEB on Dowlen Road, Jude Messina of Deb’s Liquor, and Chris and Stacy of Chase Bank on Phelan Boulevard. Chase Bank must take note that Tommy Nap was dismayed by their decision to switch from Dum Dum’s to a generic brand of lollipops. He did not understand how a bank that made so much money could skimp on lollipops. Absolutely unacceptable!

Thomas is survived by his wife Mary; daughter Maryann and son-in-law Michael DeMayo (AKA The Irishman); son John Napolitano; granddaughter Gina and her husband Douglas Goodenough; granddaughter Laura and her husband Patrick Steele; granddaughter Nicole Napolitano, granddaughter Danielle and her husband James Gallagher, granddaughter Jaimie and her husband Jason Castellano; grandson John Napolitano; great-grandsons Michael and Peter Goodenough, Thomas Steele, Jason Castellano, James Gallagher; great-granddaughters Lucia Steele, Emma Castellano, Isabella and Charlotte Gallagher. He is preceded in death by his son Vincent Napolitano. 

The family would like to thank Bishop Curtis Guillory, Monsignor Jerry McGrath, Dr. George Thomas, Dr. Allen McGrew, Dr. Maria Blahey, Amanda Minick, Brittany Syphrett, Katina Musgrove, Megan Flanagan, Trenda Holmes, Sydney Cornwell, Jesse Edgerton, Elaine Stephen, Jean Stephenson, Mona Vincent, Amy Terrell, Pastor Pitre, Mary Anderson, Dori Cruz, JoJie Espares, Wanda Johnson and the entire staff of Compassion Hospice for their kindness and gentility in ministering to Thomas Anthony Napolitano during his final days.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, May 9, 2019, at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, 700 Jefferson Street, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. His interment will be held at a later date at St. John’s Cemetery, Middle Village, New York. 


 

Broussard's Mortuary - McFaddin Avenue
2000 Mcfaddin Avenue Beaumont, TX 77701
Mass of Christian Burial
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica
700 Jefferson Beaumont, TX 77701
Thursday, May 09, 2019
2:00 p.m.
Interment
St. John's Cemetery
80-01 Metro Avenue Middle Village, New York, 11379

Comments (12)

  • Greg and Peggy (McGuire) Benton

    10 May 2019 at 00:46 | #

    Maryann and Michael our prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. With deepest sympathy and love.,
    Greg and Peggy Benton

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  • Mavis Fore

    09 May 2019 at 19:52 | #

    My condolences for the loss of your loved one. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and your family during this difficult time.

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  • Mary Oszczakiewicz Lee

    09 May 2019 at 18:35 | #

    Honored to have had a long visit and some cakes. Love all of you so much.

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  • Georgia Butler

    09 May 2019 at 16:49 | #

    My dear sweet friend I will miss you dearly our warm conversation, the laughter we shared so many memories I can't count them all RIH my friend my deepest Condolences to the his family who was as special to me as well stay strong God will make a way peace love joy love to the family ❤❤❤❤❤

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  • Neil Rego

    09 May 2019 at 15:47 | #

    Maryann I loved him and will always remember his laugh and stories . I loved those Sunday morning visits with you and my Uncle Tommy love you

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  • Brenda

    09 May 2019 at 14:25 | #

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Such beautiful memories of "The Man- and who he was. I'm honored to have known him. GOD does put people in our lives for a reason. He was so encouraging and his smile was genuine. My sincere condolences.

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  • Lowe Family

    08 May 2019 at 22:51 | #

    We extend our heartfelt condolences to Tommy’s entire family. In this difficult moment may God be your refuge and strength a help that is readily found in your time of sorrow. And may his promise of a time when death will be no more bring you a measure of comfort now and in the days ahead - Psalm 46:1; Revelation 21;3,4

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  • Claudia Correa & Jesus Zorrilla

    08 May 2019 at 22:34 | #

    Mrs. Maryann, Our most heartfelt condolences are going out to you and your family on your father's passing. You are all in our continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. -Claudia, Jesus and family

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  • Debbie Prihoda

    08 May 2019 at 20:46 | #

    Oh, MaryAnn, I'm so sorry for your loss! May your wonderful Daddy enjoy Heaven to the fullest, as he did earth!! Love you1

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  • Darla Lawless

    08 May 2019 at 18:52 | #

    Maryanne - I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear father. His obituary reads like a good book full of fairy tale endings. Thanks for sharing the witness of this beautiful life. We are thinking of you and your family during this time of sweet sorrow. Love you! Darla

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  • Kathleen Rienstra Croley

    08 May 2019 at 18:41 | #

    Such a lovely, heartfelt tribute to a remarkable man. I am so very grateful to have known and loved Papa Tom. Love, hugs and prayers for you all.

    reply

  • Carole Stevens

    08 May 2019 at 17:22 | #

    My prayers are with you; I know you will miss him.

    reply

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