In life, Matthew Falcone, a Marine veteran and civic leader, had a knack for building bridges across communities and now, one on the Northern State Parkway will bear his name.
On Saturday afternoon in Manhasset, where Falcone resided for 48 years, State. Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemb. Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) held a ceremony at Mary Janes Davies Park honoring Falcone for his life of service as over a hundred friends, relatives and officials looked on.
Several speakers emphasized his selfless spirit.
Falcone died in September 2020 of COVID-19 complications. He earned the moniker “Mr. Manhasset” for his contributions and participation with various groups, including the Knights of Columbus, Manhasset Community Club, Church of Saint Mary and the Kiwanis Club. He was also past president of the Marine Corps League's Manhasset detachment and American Legion Post 304.
Kaplan and Sillitti sponsored a law last year that passed and allowed for the designation of the “Lance Corporal Matthew A. Falcone Memorial Bridge” which carries Shelter Rock Road over the parkway in North Hills. The Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums played "Amazing Grace" and the "Marines' Hymn" when the sign was unveiled at the park.
And now, thousands of people will be reminded of his legacy daily, Kaplan said.
“He believed in things for the community, it wasn’t about him, it was first and foremost for the community. He wanted to work with anyone to make this community a better place,” Kaplan told the crowd, recalling their first introduction in 2011, when he called concerned about American flags not being displayed along Plandome Road that Memorial Day.
“I went to work and made sure the flags were there and they were there on time,” Kaplan said.
Every Memorial Day up until a year before he died, Falcone made it a point to trek up to Pinelawn Memorial Park with American Legion Post 304 veterans and the local Boy Scouts, to make sure a flag was placed on every grave, said his friend Bruce Marsanico, also a veteran.
Falcone enlisted in the Marines when he was roughly 18 years old and served from 1957 to 1959. It was a life-changing experience that gave him a sense of duty and pride.
“It was always law and order in our household. He kept us moving forward,” said his only daughter, Denise Cestone, who attended the event with her daughter and husband. “He always instilled in us, get involved, make a difference.”
"He enlisted, he went and it just saved him,” said Cestone, adding that he was stationed in Parris Island, South Carolina, and was in charge of supplies. After he was honorably discharged, he juggled work and school and eventually graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, a career that would span 65 years.
But it was his strong sense of giving back that his friends and family hope to forever carry on.
“He would attend all of the affairs, the meetings, whatever he had to do and he instilled in everybody, let’s work together, let’s not be in competition,” Marsanico said.