passed away due to cancer
Friday, 15 January 2010.
He was 76 years old.
23 May 1933 ~ 15 January 2010
Rochester, NY USA
Dad's Cancer caught us by surprise.
Although we noticed he seemed a bit tired on Thanksgiving Day 2009, it wasn't until 2 weeks before Christmas that he complained of any major symptoms - he said he "choked" on a slice of apple. This led him to the doctor, and they ordered an upper gastrointestinal (GI) x-ray series. Dad could not drink the required amount of barium liquid, so the doctor ordered an upper GI endoscopy, sometimes called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy): a visual examination of the esophagus, stomach, and upper intestinal tract using a lighted, flexible fiber optic or video endoscope. The attending doctor found what appeared to be a malignancy in Dad's esophagus close to his stomach entrance, and took a biopsy for further analysis.
On 22 December 2009 Dad was told the biopsy showed he has esophageal cancer, and that he needed to have a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to determine the size of the tumor and also evaluate whether the cancer has spread to adjacent tissues or distant organs (especially liver and lymph nodes). The CT scan was performed on 29 December 2009. Dad also had blood drawn that day for further testing. The following day the doctor called and told Mom that Dad needed to be admitted to the hospital for blood transfusions - Dad's hematocrit (a blood test that measures the percentage of red blood cells found in whole blood) had dropped to 19 - it should be above 36 for a normal person. Dad would also undergo further testing since the CT scan found a large, 2.5 inch tumor on Dad's esophagus and the cancer appeared to have affected the adjacent lymph nodes. He would also have radiation treatments in an attempt to shrink the tumor on his esophagus, and also to hopefully stop the internal bleeding from this tumor. Once in the hospital Dad was scheduled to have a FDG-PET (positron emission tomography) scan to estimate whether enlarged masses are metabolically active, indicating faster-growing cells that might be expected in cancer to determine the extent of the cancer throughout his body, and also a brain scan to determine if cancer had entered his nervous system. The PET scan determined that the cancer had spread to Dad's bones and was attacking his marrow severely affecting Dad's ability to make his own red blood cells or platelets. The prognosis was not good, and on 13 January 2010 it was decided that the radiation treatments were not helping Dad at all. Dad was moved to in hospital hospice for palliative care to relieve his suffering. Dad passed away, peacefully, with his family on 15 January 2010 at 7:55pm.
On the night Dad passed away, I could not sleep and was compelled to write a few thoughts as the start of a tribute to Dad. I asked my brothers to contribute their thoughts, and after a few passes we settled on the following text which was read by Yvette during Dad's funeral service:
Eulogy For Dad
Without question Dad had a profound impact on the life I, and my brothers live today and on the person(s) we have became. Let me share some background about Dad with you.
The son of Italian immigrants from Sicily, Dad joined the family business, Joseph F. Indovina and Sons Wholesale Banana Company, at an early age and worked there until joining Wegmans Food Markets in 1981. He remained with Wegmans until retirement in 1995. After retiring he took care of (Great) Grandma Indovina, worked part time at Chase Pitkin, in the produce department at the Irondequoit Wegmans on Hudson Avenue for his son Ron, and at the public market.
Dad lived in his hometown Rochester, NY all his life, was raised Catholic, and received his Sacraments of Christian initiation in this very church.
A graduate of St. Andrews and The Aquinas Institute, he served in the US Army during the Korean War achieving the rank of Sergeant First Class. Dad received three Decorations for his service to our country: Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal
Dad met the woman he loved - "Mrs. I", on the beach at Charlotte. Mom & Dad were married on July 9th, 1955 in St. Andrews. As time progressed they would raise three healthy boys - Joseph (Skip), Mark, and Ron. Their forth son Louis died at 2 days old. They have three grandchildren: Jen, Chantal, and Alex. And then there is Carlos.
Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 9th, 2005.
Anyone who met Dad knew he was a devoted fan of the New York Yankees.
Unfortunately Dad died of cancer at 7:55pm on January 15, 2010. He was 76 years old.
A modest biography for a modest man, however, this biography is not the measure of a great life.
Indeed my father was a hard man for anyone to dislike, he was easy to talk to, and a man everyone was proud to know.
(Mark) Dad was a hard worker, a trait he instilled in my brothers and I at an early age. I fondly remember being woken up at 4am on bitter cold Saturday mornings in winter to get dressed and go to work with Dad. We called it "riding the truck". On occasion we would go to the public market with Grandpa I and Uncle Nino to sell at the "Indovina Banana stall", but working the market was a job often delegated to Skip.
On occasion all three of us would go to work with Dad and we would huddle in the small bathroom on Kings Highway, brushing our teeth together. Meanwhile Ma and Grandma Gessner would be fussing in the kitchen preparing a quick breakfast and some dark liquid that resembled motor oil, tasted a bit like gasoline, and had an extremely powerful laxative effect.
Dad was also creative in getting us dressed for work on those cold winter mornings, in particular keeping our feet warm. We were to put on white socks, wool socks, then empty Wonder Bread bags, then our green pack boots. The Wonder Bread bags were Dads version of Gortex - they were supposed to keep our feet dry since pack boots had the appearance of being water proof, but were about as water tight as a screen door on a submarine. Unfortunately a Wonder Bread bag is also full of vent holes; no problem, Dad switched us to garbage bags.
(Mark) I got my license days after turning 16 and my first true on the road driving experience was driving Dads 18ft Ford truck out in the country as we headed back to the city after a days deliveries. I vividly remember that day and Dad calmly telling me: "Just keep the nose emblem inline with the painted line on the right side of the road." The old Ford trucks had a large emblem in the center of the hood that you could see from the driver's seat. Keeping that emblem and the painted line on top of each other meant that I had the truck properly aligned with the highway. What Dad failed to mention was that we were on poorly maintained back country roads, and it was snowing; Dad pretended to fall asleep.
(Ron) Dad had a work ethic like very few others had, he took care of all of his customers, and some of my fondest memories are the summers and weekends that I spent with dad on the truck, laughing and joking and listening to talk radio as we drove to our next stop.
(Skip) We three are successful because of what Dad taught us, indirectly, without his knowing. He was an amazing business man - a trait he inherited from his father. He showed us what customer service is all about: there was never a signed contract as his word was his contract; he showed us the right way to treat a customer; the importance of being honest; and to always take the time to do things the right way. To this day can picture Dad and I in the back of his truck checking each box of fruit before delivery so that when the customer opened the box every hand of fruit would be perfect. No one should have had to work the hours he did as it was not uncommon for him to leave before 5am and not be home until 8pm or later - Dad did this to make sure his family was well taken care of.
(Skip) Dad loved baseball and was a devoted fan of the NY Yankees, a fact that continuously annoyed his grandson Alex and granddaughter Chantal who were devoted Red Sox fans. Dad, the Yankees still suck! I clearly remember going to our first Red Wing game, going up the ramp at Silver Stadium and seeing the green grass of the baseball field.
(Mark) Dad taught us the proper way to paint a house - interior and exterior - scrape, sand, prime, two coats of finish. No further explanation is necessary.
(Ron) After Dad retired I had the pleasure to work with him at Wegmans in the produce department. Dad took care of all the senior citizens with his big smile and the patience of a saint. He followed Mr. Wegmans golden rule: "If you want to get to get to heaven, you need to be nice".
(Mark) Dad taught us the importance of family and friends and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with others. Ma & Dad had many great parties over the years. Taking their lead one summer, and with the help of extended family and friends, we planned a pig roast on the lots Dad owned adjacent to our house on Kings Highway. One thing led to another and we had a band, complete with stage, lights and sound system, tee shirts, and of course ticket sales. We stayed up all night to cook the pig, with Dad checking on us from time to time, and by the crack of dawn the party started to take a life of its own. After the 3rd or 4th visit from Irondequoit's finest, Dad, and then Mom, volunteer to be "arrested" and climbed into the back of a police car with Dad repeating over and over, "They're not bothering anyone, they're good kids, they work hard, let them have some fun!"
Obviously we learned a lot from Dad over the years. But he never ceased to amaze me.
(Mark) With the internet age upon us, Dad expressed interest in "surfing the web". In early 1999 Yvette & I gave Dad our old Apple Macintosh computer; Dad ordered a second phone line, and he was off and running. With zero prior computer experience, and a little coaching from us, Dad emailed family and friends, planned their trips, he discovered the Pinochle card games on Yahoo!, and even shopped now and then (with a separate credit card of course).
(Mark) Dad taught himself to cook later in life and without reservation I can claim that he was a very accomplished chef with only one real weakness: Dad did not every want to "tinker" with the various recipes to make smaller portions for just him and Ma. That said Dad would readily share the leftover portions with us - he called them care packages - for which we are eternally grateful.
(Ron) Even though I had heard them many times, I loved to hear Dad's stories either about the early days in the family business or when he was in the service. You could always tell when dad liked the person he was with since Dad would get out his pictures and tell the stories of his life, with a sense of passion and pride, his smile, and true sense of caring.
(Ron) Dad was always concerned with others first, if he needed something it was always "when you get a chance", "when you are not busy" or "everything is okay". Even is his last day's when he was so weak he had "his boys" help him up as to not bother one of the nurses.
(Ron) I will miss many of the little things that Dad always did, a friendly email, a phone call, a visit, our talks about business, competition, the stock market or he how he always asked about his friends at Wegmans, yet most of all I will miss my best friend, my Dad.
(Mark) I will miss Dads patience and guidance, I will miss his cooking, I will miss helping him around the house, I will miss his calls for "computer help", but most of all I miss "our Dad".
Mark Twain once wrote:
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."
As Dad neared death, we all held his hands, touched and hugged him as often as we could. We wanted Dad to know that we were with him on his final journey on earth.
Louis Anthony Joseph Salvatore Indovina
Many knew him as "The Banana Man" ...
Most knew him as "Gene" or "Mr. I" ...
We knew him as "Dad"
Dad we love you. We always have. We always will.
Our family would like to thank the staff and care-givers of the Rochester General Hospital, in particular the staff of Unit 5500, for their care and comfort these past few weeks. If you are so inclined, donations may be made in memory of Louis Indovina to the Rochester General Hospital Foundation.
Jen also wrote her own throughts regarding her Grandpa and read the following during Dad's funeral service:
Eulogy For Grandpa
Going through old photos with my mom this week, in almost every photo of me with my Grandpa I am sitting on his lap - crushing him, whispering something in his ear, making him laugh.
Growing up in Florida, Grandpa came to visit me often. They took me to Disney World more than a few times. While, I didn't let him ever finish walking around Epcot center because I would get too worn out by the time we made it to America, I made sure to give him a shoulder rub the entire drive home.
I can remember watching him shine his shoes when I would walk over to grandma and grandpa's house after school or play practice. Grandpa would be ready with plastic bins full of oatmeal raisin cookies and a deck of cards. Undoubtedly I would force him to listen to my musical numbers from Oliver, Grease, and Guys & Dolls.
Grandpa started teaching me poker when I was 12, in anticipation of my 21st birthday when we would go to Vegas and take down the house! Unfortunately 9 years later Vegas took us down - I never saw grandpa lose $50 so fast. We celebrated our loss with a drink at the Mirage and a laugh at how much better at gambling Grandma was than either of us.
I was also lucky enough to take Grandpa to his first baseball game at Yankee stadium, in NYC, and unfortunately his first subway ride - then instead of joining back up with the crowd for dinner - we hopped into a cab and got an "authentic" Italian dinner on Mulberry Street.
Grandpa and I had so many good years together and while I know life will go on, I am sad for our loss, but I feel spoiled actually, that I have so many good memories with my Grandpa.
Dad's service was held at St. Andrews Church, presided by Father Mike Mayer. His pallbearers were: Julian Laskowycz, Stephen Cassano, David Corea, Michael Bonady, Arthur Falvo, and Joe Cuccinotti. Carlos BARRIOS read from the Book of Wisdom, and Michael Bonady read from the Book of Revelation. With full Military Honors, Dad was laid to rest in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Pictures of Dad
Dad's Military Monument