Obituary of William T. Lesio
March 24, 2019. Bill is predeceased by his siblings, Ralph, Donald, Edward & Amelia Lesio; daughter-in-law, Helen Lesio. He is survived by his loving wife Eleanor Lesio and brother Ray (Sharon) Lesio; children, Thomas Lesio, Laurel (Bert) Lesio-Eisenstadt & Peter (Gail) Lesio; grandchildren, Carolyn (Stephanie Ketterl) Lesio, Catherine Lesio, Amy Eisenstadt, Benjamin Eisenstadt, Jonathan Lesio & Joshua Lesio; several nieces, nephews & dear friends.
Bill’s memorial service will be celebrated Friday, March 29th, 11:15 am at St. Rita’s Church, 1008 Maple Dr., Webster. His burial in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to The Lewy Body Dementia Association, www.lbda.org or the charity of one’s choice, in his memory.
Remembrances - as composed by Laurel Lesio-Eisenstadt for the memorial service for William Thomas Lesio on March 29th, 2019.
My dad, William Thomas Lesio, lived for over 90 years and in that 90 years, had a very full life. Of course, he was so much more than just my dad, so today I would like to tell you some things about him.
He was born in Rochester, NY to Julia and John Lesio. He was one of 6 children: 2 older brothers, 2 younger brothers and a sister. I suppose his life was pretty common for a child of Italian immigrants in the 1930’s, each trying to assimilate into American culture. My dad learned masonry from his father and worked for a Buick dealer where he learned car repair. Sadly, his adolescence was darkened by the premature passing of his own father, and a few years later, the tragic death of his teenaged sister, events that must have had a profound effect on the rest of his life.
My dad went to Franklin High School and it was there that he met Eleanor Bork. She was 16 and he was 17. High school sweethearts, they were married 5 years later in 1950, almost 69 years ago. As a wedding gift, my father was given his draft notice. A year later, he went to Fort Jackson, NC for basic training. He was deployed to Korea and there he made sergeant. Luckily, in December of 1953 he returned home and resumed his life, working for Eastman Kodak, buying a house in Webster around the corner from his new sister and brother-in-law, and starting a family that eventually included Tom, Laurel (me), and Pete. My dad would never talk about his military service; he looked back on it as something he simply had had to do. But he did like to show us slides of his furlough in Japan, and proudly showed us the gifts that he had brought home to my mother, who at that time was his new bride.
Before Korea, my dad had been in an apprentice program for electricians at Eastman Kodak and when he came back, he was automatically rehired. In 1962, through Kodak and GI benefits, he went to RIT for an Associate’s Degree. Later on, he was groomed by Kodak to become an early-era computer technician, back in the days of IBM punch cards and paper tape when computers were the size of a whole room. At one point, there was some talk of Kodak relocating him to Colorado, and he and my mom visited Kodak West, but ultimately stayed east. For several years he even worked near my mom in building 42 in Kodak Park. As Eastman Kodak began their period of downsizing, my dad was offered an early retirement package in 1984. He took it, and then he earnestly went to work on the golf course.
My folks also did some travelling cross country; Hawaii, Alaska, and the Southwest were noteworthy, and they spent more time at the Dansville property that they had bought in the 1960s, building bridges, a sawmill, and restoring a rundown shack and tractors. My dad also started collecting and rebuilding antique cars; his first was his beloved 1928 Willys Knight. He redid both the body and the engine, painstakingly refinishing every wood spoke, re-chroming every shiny accessory, and making sure the horn’s special sound was authentic. He and my mom joined The Antique Car Club, where his Willys Knight was a frequent first place winner in shows and competitions.
My dad’s lifelong ability to build, construct, and fix demonstrated his ingenuity, his creativity, his resourcefulness, and his overall intelligence. I hope that he felt proud of that; I sure do. He used these numerous talents, over and over again, to help his loved ones, all of our lives.
My first apartment in NYC was rescued by my dad, who redid the floor of an old tenement in the East Village; the house I live in now, a restored Brooklyn brownstone, has my dad’s signature on every floor, from the electrical conduits in the basement to the wood moulding beneath the pitched roof. His grandchildren also reaped the benefits of his labor, and when he could no longer do the work himself, the benefits of his tips, tools, and trucks. A man of not so many words, my dad showed his love for his family by endlessly doing things with and for them.
My dad’s life certainly had its share of sadness and grief growing up, and adversity and challenge growing old. The illnesses of his last decade seemed so unfair and so unkind. But, now that he is free of his physical self and of all that suffering, as family and friends let’s work to be free of that as well. Let’s look around and see his influence everywhere; let’s have fun recalling our childhood and our children’s childhood with Grandpa. Let’s remember the adventures in Dansville, affectionately known as Bill’s Hill, the golf course, the mini-golf, the snowmobiles, the car shows, Abbott’s custard and lemon merengue pie, Rummy and jigsaw puzzle marathons, and Dad playing with our good old dog Corky, and all of our current dogs, Maxie, Fancy, Chai, Vera, Splash, Newbie, and Roxy. Dogs know a good guy when they see one, and William Thomas Lesio, tough guy that he was, was very much a good guy. Goodbye for now Dad, I love you.