January 9, 1939 - February 2, 2019
Joseph Francis Lauto, of Melville, on February 2, 2019 at the age of 80. Beloved husband of Antoinette. Loving father of Anthony and his devoted daughter in law Stephanie, Joseph and Valerie his excitedly soon-to-be daughter in law. Cherished grandfather of Jake Angelo and Rocco Anthony. Donations may be made in Joseph's memory to: St. Jude Children's Hospital www.stjude.org/ American Red Cross www.redcross.org/ For Joe's grandchildren, Jake and Rocco who are both determined to be Eagle Scouts one day. Boy Scouts of America - Troop 200, 17 Whistlerhill Lane Huntington, NY 11743 Donation envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Joe was born in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn. At an early age, he had both Good Humor ice cream and newspaper routes down Coney Island Avenue. Joe created a “pick-up service” where he would collect old papers on a weekly basis. He would then drop the newspapers off at a paper company to have them recycled for 5 cents a pound. At 10 years old, Joe would go to the Brooklyn rail yards at the crack of dawn to unload train cars of lumber by hand. From there, the lumber was taken to a lumber yard in NYC where Joe’s father worked. He helped carry the lumber up to the the third floor of a loft building, through hatchways built into each floor. Afterward, Joe and his father would buy a dozen eggs and “day-old” bread to head home for a big family breakfast. They did this for many years and it was only just the beginning of Joe’s entrepreneurship. Joe went to Manual Training High School in Brooklyn and was voted “Most Unassuming.” He was a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of guy. From high school, he enrolled in the Army National Guard and was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey. His mom would send packages of provolone, capicola, mortadella, and Italian bread and he would be the envy of the barracks. Every other weekend, Joe was permitted to take leave in order to go home and do work for a long list of major commanding officers. He joked about all the side work he did for the “guys with a lot of scrambled eggs,” or officers with gold leaf shaped embellishments to show a very senior ranking. Joe remained in the service for about two decades as a reserve and was called upon often. He was very proud of his service and his country. Joe’s side work continued and much of it was done for family “al la bracchio,” which means “on the arm” or free; That’s what you did for family, no questions asked. The same way his ancestors worked so hard to get to the United States to provide opportunity, Joe also worked to help family succeed. There was no keeping score or keeping track; It was all about the family’s strength and longevity as a whole. Family and faith were always Joe’s priorities. He got a job working for the phone company Western Bell which, at the time, changed to New York Telephone, then NYNEX. While working for them, Joe’s dad broke his arm and couldn’t drive the truck for the lumberyard. In those days, if you couldn’t work you lost your job. So Joe switched to nights at the phone company and drove the lumber truck during the day. He worked 16 hour days for many months. Eventually, Joe left the phone company and began running the lumberyard. Later, he would purchase the lumberyard, a few shares at a time, from 1970 to 1989. It took almost 20 years for him to own it. During that time, he witnessed a horrific fire just blocks away from the lumberyard. It was the Broadway Central Hotel and it perished completely to the ground. This is when Joe became adamant about selling safer products. He brought in “Sheetrock” from United States Gypsum and METAL studs from Neslo. People called him crazy for this decision. Soon after, he brought in products from Acme Steel Doors of Brooklyn and lobbied to an old Army friend connected to NYC Health and Hospitals to make steel doors the new “standard.” Today they are the standard and wood doors, if desired, must be fireproof as well. Slowly, the lumberyard was losing all of its lumber and New York was becoming a safer place. It was interesting to work in a lumber yard that sold very little lumber. The world changed on September 11th, 2001 and the lumberyard played a big role in the save and rescue efforts of FDNY. Lumberyard employees drove firemen to the site, retrieved the fallen, and transported them to triage units set up on 14th Street. This was captured and featured in several magazines and commended by then-Mayor Giuliani. As the city recovered, the neighborhood of the lumberyard was re-gentrifying. Families were moving in and the neighborhood was growing new life. The lumberyard started to become out of place in the former manufacturing district of NYC. In 2008, the lumberyard moved, became a division of Michbi Doors, Inc., and operated out of Brentwood, NY. Joe's customer base was maintained, some of whom were 3rd generation consumers. Just days ago, Joe was at his desk, writing orders, and doing what he loved best – nurturing and forever building his customer relationships. For leisure, Joe loved to go to restaurants. He wasn’t a “foodie” because he didn’t love “fancy stuff,” but give him a plate of pasta with lentils and he was a happy man. Last, but not least, Joe was a family man. He wasn’t just involved with his family, he enveloped his family and couldn’t get enough of them. Cheering at little league baseball games, listening to piano recitals, attending school concerts, jumping in the pool in the summer, and sticking toes in the sand out in Montauk were his favorite things. He loved seeing his grandsons advance in Scouting and always talked about “their plan.” His love for his wife was unquestioned, although he enjoyed joking about how she drove him crazy and that he was going to leave her. As much as he would joke, getting married eleven months after the first date said it all. They enjoyed 54 years together. Joe was a man who kept you engaged, laughing, and wanting more. He was a huge presence, a jokester and a teddy bear all in one. He had so many people to whom he played father and grandfather. He was one of a kind and irreplaceable. There aren’t many like him left.
Joseph Francis Lauto, of Melville, on February 2, 2019 at the age of 80. Beloved husband of Antoinette. Loving father of Anthony and his devoted daughter in law Stephanie, Joseph and Valerie his excitedly soon-to-be daughter in law. Cherished... View Obituary & Service Information
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