Greetings dear friends and kind readers and welcome back for what, incredibly, is our first visit of the summer and our last visit of June here on the Front Porch where time continues to zip along and where we're carefully tending to our broken hearts.
As most readers are aware, we lost a giant of a man when Joe Cugini, the dearest heart and gentlest person on the planet, left us last week. As difficult as it has been for this community to process such a loss, there have been many lovely, healing moments and good reasons to celebrate Joe's life, as his daughter, Betty-Joe Cugini-Greene continues to remind me. For instance, who would think that waiting for two hours in a line at Gaffney-Dolan could be so nourishing and enjoyable? Well, with the spirit of Joe hovering over us, it sure was! How good it was to spend some quality time with Kelly Lee, her significant other, George Johnson and the ever-fascinating Ellen Madison, and to catch a glimpse of so many others, if only for a hug and a wave. I think everybody in Rhode Island was at the wake, despite the torrential rains ... a testimony to how much Joe was loved and admired.
I had the privilege of being a guest on Joe's WBLQ radio station twice a month, along with Ken Collins and Chris DiPaola, where often, we were joined by Betty-Joe and her son, Christopher Korestki. I think those two are pros and know just what it would take to keep Joe's show going, so let's cross fingers! Wouldn't that be the tops?
Yes, it was a big week for losses, as we also learned news of the passing of legendary investigative reporter Jim Taricani, an icon in New England journalism, who died Friday; of local firefighter Chris Lombardo; of my husband's Aunt Isabella Fusaro, and of local musical legend David DeAngelis, who was the Westerly High School choral director from 1982-2014. David was a man who inspired hundreds of students, instilled an appreciation of the musical arts in untold number of other folks and was an inspiration for many musicians.
Of the many tributes I read on Facebook, it might have been the one from pianist Jennifer Christina Holden, who summed it up best: "He was an incredible musician, mentor and friend. I am completely heartbroken that Mr. D is no longer with us but I know his music will live on through his incredibly talented kids, Dave DeAngelis and Antonella Marie DeAngelis and his beautiful wife, Aurelia DeAngelis, who supported him through it all."
Speaking of music and musicians, Saturday's Chorus of Westerly Summer Pops concert, with special guests Paul Winter, Richard Cooke and Corrine Gibbons, and a gorgeous new work by Westerly native John Tafone, was particularly beautiful and soothing. Thanks to Music Director Andrew Howell, the choristers, Ryan Saunders and Doug and Jean Rayner for the splendid treat.
Congratulations to Jennifer Brinton, who became the new president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night during the chamber's annual meeting (more on that next week, and more about Pops and Paul Winter!) Let me end this week with a giant mea culpa to my pal Jane Barber for omitting her name from the great-grand list a few weeks back when I mentioned the arrival of baby Reese Kathleen Bridgman, new baby daughter of Leslie (Barber) and Justin Bridgman of Pawcatuck. Jane, forgive me, please? Happy summer, ciao bella, and as my dear friend Joe Cugini always said, "Life is precious, live it well."