Richard "Richie" DeSola, who delivered Newsday for 16 years, died in his sleep at Brookhaven Health Care Facility on Jan. 21, his son said. He was 94.
After delivering the newspaper to stores in Brooklyn during the early morning hours, DeSola went back to the paper’s Melville office to hang out with colleagues for whom he brought treats rather than go home to his West Babylon apartment.
"He would always buy pastries for people in human resources," his son Michael DeSola said. "He was like the mayor, everybody knew him. He had a Brooklyn route and he would stop at all the bakeries and bring stuff back. Everybody loved him."
One of 13 siblings, DeSola started at Newsday in 1977 after working for Alan Motor Lines Inc., a shipping and trucking company previously based in Edison, New Jersey. He learned about the opportunity at Newsday from his older brother John DeSola, one of seven family members who worked for the newspaper.
"After my uncle was at Newsday, he called my father and told him what a great place it was and if he wanted to get in [at] Newsday," said Michael DeSola, the recording secretary for Local 406 of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union for Newsday employees. "And my father said ‘yeah.’ There were a lot of DeSolas that worked at Newsday."
Former Newsday employee Ron "Clem" Clementelli got to know DeSola when he worked in circulation.
"He was one of the most respected and trusted drivers that we had and that was during the time of expansion into New York Newsday," Clementelli said. "The drivers all respected him because he was always straight and to the point."
Clementelli said DeSola worked with former Newsday colleague William "Bill" LaSalla, who started as a driver in 1970 and later became the paper’s daily operations manager. Clementelli said LaSalla, who died in December, turned to DeSola to show people how things were done.
"When you have a new circulation director coming from one of the other properties up here and wanted to go take a ride on a run," Clementelli said, "Bill LaSalla chose Richie because he always knew that Richie would go out there and do it the same way and show the … way deliveries are done."
In 1993, DeSola took a buyout from Newsday, his son said. He then worked for the Town of Brookhaven's Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve, driving a dump truck until he retired in 2003.
Born Feb. 21,1926, DeSola previously lived in Ridgewood. Ann Fitzpatrick, who grew up with DeSola, calling him ‘uncle’ even though they weren’t related, remembers him as a "gentle giant." Fitzpatrick said DeSola was generous with his time, whether it was taking her to church or bringing her and other family members to the movies.
"He always, always gave the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it," Fitzpatrick said.
DeSola is survived by his sons Michael, Richard Jr. and John, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A wake and funeral were held last week and he was buried at Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum.