Anthony Puleo

Obituary of Anthony Puleo

Anthony W. “Tony” Puleo, a resident of Burlington for 52 years, passed away on Sunday, January 4, 2009 at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, after a brief illness, The husband of Rose (Minichiello), he was 83 years old. Tony was born, raised and educated in the North End of Boston. He was one of ten children born to the late Colagero and Angela Puleo. Tony was a veteran of World War II serving his country in the United States Army in both the European and Pacific Theatres. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart Medal as well as the European Theatre Medal. Tony had a successful 34-year career working for MIT Lincoln Labs in Lexington. He was a Precision Metalsmith working on prototypes and satellites related to NASA, specifically the Apollo and Gemini space missions. Tony had a full and active life after his retirement. He was an active member of the Burlington Senior Citizens Organization, where he made many friendships. Tony and his wife Rose were regulars at the center participating in many of the activities and social events, some of which he helped to organize. Tony was also an active member of the South End Italian Club in Woburn. He had musical talents, which included playing the trumpet and the guitar, and was a fine singer. He was also a talented painter. Tony’s wife, Rose, and their family were the most important parts of his life. When his children where younger he would attend all their activities and in more recent years, attended his grandchildren’s activities as well. Tony will be deeply missed by his family and his many friends. Tony is the beloved husband of 55 years of Rose G. (Minichiello). He is the loving father of Stephen Puleo & his wife Kathy of Weymouth, Denise Barry & her husband Richard Ostromecki of Lexington, and Kenneth Puleo & his wife Karyn of Tyngsboro. He is the brother of Jack Puleo of FL, Charles Puleo of Everett, and the late Angie Canto, Frances Lavore, Beatrice Tentoni, Gus, Jimmy, Gaspare, and Josephine Puleo. Tony is the grandfather of Patrick Barry & his wife Kristine of Woburn, Nicole Hevehan & her husband John of Salem, NH, Alaina and Zachary Puleo, both of Tyngsboro and great grandfather of Colin Barry of Woburn. Funeral from the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., Burlington (Exit 34 off Rt. 128, Woburn side) on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Margaret’s Church, 111 Winn St., Burlington at 10 a.m. Visiting hours Tuesday 2-4 & 6-8 p.m. Interment in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Burlington. Memorials in Tony’s name may be made to Burlington Senior Citizens Organization (BSCO), 61 Center St., Burlington, MA 01803. Good Morning… On behalf of my mother, Rose, and the entire Puleo family, I would like to thank all of you for being here to honor my father. We are honored by your presence…Dad hated for anyone to make a fuss over him – but I bet he’s pleased looking down on us today to see all of you. Thanks also for the well-wishes and the outpouring of affection to my mom and to all of us. We truly appreciate it. And I wanted to mention that the beautiful songs you’ve heard in church today are among dad’s favorites, but you don’t know how close you came to hearing Frank Sinatra here this morning. We weren’t sure how Father would feel about the entrance hymn being “Fly Me to the Moon” or maybe more appropriate for Dad, “My Way.” Our family is a little shell-shocked today…It’s hard for us to believe that it was only a week ago that dad was getting ready to go to the South End Italian Club in Woburn for their New Year’s Eve party…he and mom were so looking forward to seeing their friends and enjoying the night. Dad was feeling great and ready to party…and the heck with the snowstorm; normally, he didn’t like to go out in the snow, but if it meant celebrating with good friends, snow alone couldn’t stop him. And so, how do we make sense…that now he’s gone? And gone so quickly? It’s been hard, but one way our family has tried to make sense of things over the last few days is to take this approach: We don’t believe dad is gone at all. Nope – if you are in this church today, then in some way, dad’s wisdom and his laughter and his example and his integrity and his talent and his love have touched you – they have made you a better person, and your piece of the world a better place. Tony Puleo isn’t gone – because he lives on in all of us here today. Throughout his life, he has given so much and asked so little, and we all are the benefit of that now. He gave so much early as a devoted son, a supportive brother, a loyal friend, and a brave soldier; then later as a loving husband, an amazing father, a proud grandfather, a delighted great-grandfather, and once again – as a wonderful friend. As you heard in the prayers earlier, he shared his gifts and his gifts were many. I want to just give you a sense of a few of them, because this will give you a sense of my father. He shared his gift of immense talent. Tony Puleo was a true renaissance man. He was a painter, a singer, a musician, and could create, build, or fix almost anything with his hands. He took great, though quiet, pride in his abilities, and he took pride in his ability to teach others. I remember when my brother Ken and I attended his retirement party from Lincoln Lab in Lexington. Dad was a very skilled precision metalsmith there, worked on the heat shields for the NASA spacecrafts, and almost every designer and engineer on staff wanted Tony Puleo to work on their projects. Well, at the party, so many young workers came up to us and said, “Tony taught me more about this craft than anyone. He is the best.” And as modest as we was, dad loved standing in front of a room of 250 people and singing a few Sinatra songs with a keyboard accompanist. He knew people derived pleasure and benefits from his talents – and he was so happy to share them. He shared his gifts of optimism, humor, and a love of life. My sister Denise made the comment that as she was going through her pictures getting ready for the wake, that she almost never saw a picture of Dad when he wasn’t smiling. And believe me, that is how he approached life. Life to him was something worth living to its fullest every single day. He loved to laugh and joke. He took great pleasure in small things – out to lunch with mom, a social at the senior center, a pizza gathering with the family. He loved people and people loved him – mom called him “the mayor” because he could talk to so many people at a gathering. And he really wouldn’t be happy unless he was the very last one to leave. Right, mom? But he always believed that optimism was the key to a rich, healthy, full life – and he was so right. He shared his gifts of faith and patriotism. I put these together because they are part of Tony Puleo’s core. He loved God and he loved practicing his religion in this building with mom by his side. He was never preachy, but always devout. And he was so proud of his patriotism and love of country. Next to his wife, his family and his faith, his World War II service was the most profound occurrence of his life. He knew he was part of something bigger than himself, knew the importance of it, and never forgot the sacrifices that so many made. He and mom faithfully attended Veterans Day and Memorial Day services – I can’t remember them missing one. And dad passed on that gift of patriotism to all those he loved. He shared his gifts of honesty, integrity and strength of character. Over the last few days, our family has talked again and again about this. Dad was, quite simply, the most stand-up guy we’ve ever known. Denise, Ken, and I knew this when we were younger, but maybe didn’t really appreciate it so much until we grew up. Kate, Richie, and Karyn all mentioned that, in addition to dad’s welcoming embrace, his integrity is the first thing they noticed when they joined the family. Patrick, Nicole, Alaina, and Zack have grown up with it and admired it, and as they’ve gotten older, appreciated it more and more. Kristine and John have both talked about dad’s strength of character and what a gift that is. And dad’s great-grandson only had a short time to see it, but all of us will do our best to keep dad’s gift of integrity alive for Colin. Dad had that rare combination: He spoke his mind and always stood up for his principles – yet, he was loved by everyone and didn’t have a single enemy. Dad managed to stand tall – and still be loved. And that brings us to dad’s most important gift: He shared his gift of love. Tony Puleo’s heart was the biggest part of this big man. Love was what defined him. Love for my mother most of all, of course. And we learned that at a very young age…not just when dad would scold us if we were giving mom grief and say, “Make no mistake, if it’s between you and your mother, you, Stephen, are out of here!” Not just that way – although when you’re a child, that’s a pretty good way of getting the message across. But we saw very early what our whole family has seen since: never has there been a more devoted and loving husband. Mom and dad were inseperable, especially since dad retired 21 years ago: they were each other’s best friends, confidants, partners. They finished each other’s sentences – well, dad finished mom’s more often than the other way around! Their 55 years of marriage set a tremendous example for their friends, their children, and their grandchildren. Dad taught us that love was meant to be shared – not something to hide. He taught us that it was perfectly OK for tough men to show tenderness: Dad hugged us all the time; cried at sad movies or when he heard emotional songs; and said “I love you” every single time he talked to us. And so, think about all of dad’s gifts when you leave here today. Because he has shared them with all of us, he is alive in all of us. And think about this. Sixty-four years ago on Christmas Eve of 1944, Private First Class Tony Puleo was standing guard duty during the Battle of the Bulge in a freezing cold Belgium town. He was a scared and lonely 19-year-old. He looked up and saw a full moon in the winter sky and thought of his family back home. How much he missed them. The song he thought of was I’ll Be Seeing You, because there’s a line in that song that says, “I’ll be looking at the moon and I’ll be seeing you.” It became one of dad’s favorite songs and he cried every time he heard it. So if you see a full moon in the near future, think of I’ll Be Seeing You and think of Tony Puleo and the gifts he shared. Because one thing is for sure: HE will be seeing US. I told you – he’s not gone. It’s just that now, he’s living in our hearts.
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