Emilio Cardinali, of Long Island, NY, 85, passed away on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, surrounded by close family at St. Francis Hospital.
Emilio was a kind, generous and loving soul who lived a very full life with family and friends, and leaves behind many who love him dearly. He genuinely enjoyed people and knew how to make a person feel welcome and valued. He approached situations with an open heart, a positive attitude and a never-ending sense of humor. Emilio had an immense love of good food, gardening, Italian music and watching the birds – he was especially fascinated with hummingbirds, always looking out for them at the first signs of Spring – and cardinals, of course.
He was born in the village of Santa Maria del Taro in the province of Parma of the Emilia-Romagna region where, he would always remind us, all the good food of Italy comes from. As a young boy, Emilio worked in Portofino as a gardener and emigrated to the United States on the Conte Biancamano when he was just 18 years old to live with his uncle. He worked many jobs when he first arrived, including printmaker, mover and house painter, went on to open a gas station with his brother-in-law in Amityville and was a landlord for many years. He dedicated 16 years to Cardinal Tools where he was a lead machinist who proudly worked on Grumman parts for the Apollo Lunar Module. He left Cardinal to run his own landscaping company for a decade, before learning to install and repair underground sprinklers from a lifelong friend. Together with his wife, he built a successful and reputable business, Cardinali Sprinkler, and ran it for 30 years before retiring.
Emilio lived on Long Island for most of his life and met Anna, his wife of 55 years, at the Maria SS. Dell’Assunta Society of Westbury where he had been a loyal member since the 1960s. He was enchanted by Anna’s beautiful voice and lured her with his charm and Northern Italian accent. After many years of being together – including a two-year hiatus while he served in the U.S. Army in Germany – they married.
A dedicated husband, Emilio built a beautiful family with Anna. He cared deeply for his children and passed along his amazing strength, determination and tenacity. He treasured his granddaughters, teaching them important life lessons and encouraging them in every way possible. He loved to see them perform music and dance, and was always there to set up swings in the wildest of places, repair the trampoline or craft some crazy concoction of sleds attached to his golf cart when the snow flew.
A gardener by nature, he loved to be outside in his vegetable garden growing basil, tomatoes and the climbing vines of trombette di Albenga for his famous zucchini parmigiana. He was a master of pesto using only the ‘best’ Italian olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano and would always save a little extra on the side so his granddaughters could dip his brother’s delicious Italian bread in it. He knew where the best and biggest mushrooms could be found and was a big fan of pickling them with his wife at his side. Although it was originally Anna’s tradition, he turned canning tomatoes into an art form. He looked forward to the big annual family event and set aside a dedicated room in the basement for his jarred treasures.
In his barn and workshop, he always kept busy building, inventing and creating – his sharp mind loved problem-solving and found many elegant solutions to all kinds of challenges. A force of nature with the most magical hands, Emilio believed in hard work and never giving up, no matter how difficult the task or the problem. Precise, exacting and meticulous, his ‘testa dura’ had a huge positive influence in his long, robust life.
Emilio was a caring husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle and friend. He is survived by his devoted daughters Angela and Rosanna, his granddaughters Amelia and Isabella, his brothers Frank and Albert, sisters Benita, Francesca, Maria, Irene and Sylvia, and his sons-in-law John and Vincenzo. He leaves behind an extensive, loving family of nieces, nephews and in-laws, and many lifelong friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Anna, his father and mother, Antonio and Angela Cardinali, his brother Benito, his sister Julie, in-laws and nephews, and many friends.
“Papa, thank you for being there for us all these years, for sticking around and for being our rock. You are our guide, our inspiration, our warrior. You have touched many people and many things, and your love will be in our hearts, always. We will see you in every tree that buds in spring and turns color in autumn, in all the waves that break in the ocean, and in every bird that sings a song. We thank you for blessing our souls with your beautiful spirit – all throughout your life and in your memory.” – Love Always, Angela, Rosanna, Amelia + Isabella
In lieu of flowers donations in Emilio's memory would be appreciated to St. Francis Hospital
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