Merchione LoCricchio was an Army veteran who went into business as a carpenter after serving in World War II.
Known to many simply as Joe, LoCricchio died of vascular disease Feb. 15 while being treated at Plainview Hospital. He was 99.
LoCricchio stayed active and engaged through his retirement years.
The West Hempstead resident was an early riser, a disciplined homeowner who was very meticulous about trimming his hedges and who kept a large circle of friends. He went to church, bowled in a league and made regular stops to talk to people around the neighborhood. Along his travels, he dispensed common-sense advice.
“The biggest thing about his life was all the people that he touched,” said his son, Cosmo LoCricchio of West Hempstead. “He had this calm way of saying things and he was interested in helping other people all the time.”
LoCricchio was born in Manhattan and grew up in what is today the Gravesend section of Brooklyn.
In 1936, he was introduced to Marie DeSanctis, his future wife. They went on many walks along the Coney Island boardwalk over the next four years of courtship and, as relatives tell it, got along well on the dance floor. They married in 1940 — and, still, 50 years later, they delighted guests at a surprise anniversary party by doing “a mean Peabody” to big-band music.
LoCricchio enlisted in the Army during World War II in 1942. He was sent to the South Pacific.
He and his wife moved to West Hempstead in 1952, as they sought a good place to raise children. They remained in that home, although Marie died in 2013.
LoCricchio worked as a carpenter through the 1950s and part of the 1960s, rising to superintendent at construction projects before striking out on his own. He was part of several partnerships with friends and relatives in construction and did framing at worksites ranging from Sunrise Highway overpasses to a hangar at Kennedy Airport, his son said.
He retired around 1965, but later he took a part-time job at Peterford’s pro bowling shop in Franklin Square and that became a full-time gig, as he loved the sport and the rapport he established with customers. He stayed there for more than 20 years until he was 89. He was the most senior bowler in the Senior Classic Invitational League in East Meadow, where he remained a regular through his late 90s, said Frank Fazio Sr., who runs the league.
Other league members could count on LoCricchio’s firm handshake and optimism to brighten the mood.
“He was just a great guy,” said Fazio, 72. “I miss him and he had the respect of the bowlers in the league . . . He was this positive person, he would talk to everybody and he always had good things to say.”
Those who knew him well would remember the sayings he was fond of offering, such as, “One must know oneself,” and why worry about things you can’t change: “It is what it is.” In later years he would tell his sons to take time to relax and enjoy life.
He is survived by another son, Leonardo, of West Babylon; eight grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and a great-great grandchild. His daughter, Rose, died in 2015.
A memorial Mass was said Feb. 20 at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hempstead. His ashes were interred at Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.