Robert J. Brocato
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GORHAM -- On Dec. 2, 2012, Robert Joseph Brocato lost his life to lung cancer. His family was with him providing love, comfort and occasional falderal. For those who did not know him well, for future family and for those who loved him most, we will try to convey here the essence of his 80 years.
Born to Joseph and Marion (Mucci) Brocato on Aug. 22, 1932, in Lawrence, Mass., he moved to Maine at a young age and lived there his entire life, first in Sanford then the greater Portland area. A talented schoolboy athlete and scholar at Sanford High School, he met Shirley Pelletier at a high school YMCA dance. They quickly fell in love, married and through eight children and 61 years of marriage, grew and sustained that love. A steel estimator for his entire professional career, he estimated projects well after retirement.
These are his children's memories: Softball games - Dad is the best hitter, catcher and third baseman. We are his biggest fans, screaming encouragement to his team and taunts to opposing ones. Swimming at Nonna's camp, with one towel to wipe our seven faces - run around to dry off. An earache: sit on dad's lap, feel the warm fragrant pipe smoke he whispers into the hurt. Halloween; dad blackens his face with a charred potato, wears a knit cap. We share a mirror and big grins. Oh, he's missing a tooth that is normally there! Winter days on the ice, dad wears black figure skates. He is fast and graceful. He swirls figure eights and rhythmically sashays backwards. Rainy Sunday afternoons, Dad is the official popcorn popper - the oil sizzles, kernels pop, fragrance fills the house. We eat hot buttered popcorn from a huge bowl as we watch movies on our black and white TV. Saturday mornings, dad plays big band music to wake us at 7:30 a.m. We are teenagers, but no one sleeps late, there are chores and dad has the 'white gloves' out. Hot summer Sundays, draw the shades, the house will be cool when we return from Two Lights. Pack the cooler: homemade spaghetti sauce, pasta, Romano cheese, and a big pot of water. Everyone at the park is envious of our picnic. Teenage daughters bring a boy home; the tussle begins with the first handshake. Hair turns from jet black to white. Children marry, some divorce, there are grandchildren. Dad makes the best beer, bread, biscotti, the best everything. Retirement begins with a fight between dad and a tree. Dad loses his left leg below the knee, but not his spirit. Great-grandchildren. Mom and dad still hold hands. We think he is handsome and sings like Tony Bennett.
Family was everything. He remained close to his four sisters: Louise Caron and husband Donald of Sanford; Helen Wilkins and husband Richard of Sanford; Rita Precourt and
Robert J. Brocato
husband Jerry (deceased), Seekonk, Mass., and predeceased by sister Francis Hevey and her husband Paul of Dubuque, Iowa.
He loved the Yankees, the Redskins and horse races big and small. Foxwoods was a favorite destination, always accompaniedby his sister Helen and nephew, Rob Wilkins and often by his sister Rita and niece, Diane Precourt. He quickly became a favorite guest; there, he was simply 'Uncle Bob.' For eight years, our family met once a month in honor of our father to sample beers and compete for the best 'toast;' we called it the 'Beer Tasters and Toasters Society. '
Being Italian was dear to his heart. A trip to Cefalu, Sicily, to visit his father's ancestral village, was indescribable. His wife, Shirley stole his heart, his children knew his love, and those close to him benefitted from his many kindnesses, including the hundreds of cancer victims who received the record breaking amount of platelets he donated for years.
All our love,
Wife, Shirley and their children: Joe Brocato of Waterboro; Robert (deceased); Julie Crandall and husband Andrew Crandall of Windham; Anthony Brocato and partner Tracy Andrews of Naples; Kathie LeBel and husband Chris LeBel of Westbrook; Maria Picher and husband William Picher of Windermere, Fla.; Lisa Latno and husband Gary Latno of Gray; and James Brocato of Somerville, Mass.; and his grandchildren: Scott Leavitt of Naples; Nick LeBel and wife Sue LeBel of Bridgton; Aimee Brocato and husband Chris Ham of Alfred; Sam Brocato and partner Ashley Libby of Yarmouth; Peter Brocato of Naples; Michael and Stephen Picher of Windermere, Fla.; and Benjamin and Roman Latno of Gray. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Rudolph Pelletier of Dover, N.H., sister-in-law Anita Pelletier of Sanford; and the many nieces, nephews and great-grandchildren who filled his life. Family is everything.
Relatives and friends are invited to call on Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lafrance-Lambert & Black Funeral Home, 29 Winter St., Sanford. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish at Holy Family Church, 66 North Ave., Sanford. Private burial will be in St. Ignatius Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Black Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, Sanford-Springvale. Condolences may be expressed at www.blackfuneralhomes.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating blood or platelets to the Red Cross. Donations to your favorite cancer research or prevention organization are also encouraged.
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Dec. 4, 2012