Philip Liantonio spent a lifetime captivating those around him, whether he was working as a wedding singer, entertaining his three daughters or appearing in the amusing social media videos he made later in life.
“He was always making people fall in love with him,” said his granddaughter, Danielle Dellilo of Franklin Square.
The Franklin Square resident died July 13 after a battle with cancer at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Dellilo said. He was 95.
Liantonio was born in Manhattan and was raised in Ozone Park, Queens. During the day he worked for the New York City Sanitation Department, and at night he played the bass fiddle and “sang like Perry Como” at weddings, his daughter Maria Quirindongo said.
He was playing at a wedding reception one night when, from the stage, he noticed a young woman, Rose Caiazzo, dancing in the crowd. The two began dating and were married a year later, said Quirindongo, 61, of Tampa, Florida. The couple moved to Franklin Square from Ozone Park in 1969, and were married for 57 years until Rose’s death in 2007.
“My father was a jokester and he loved to make her laugh,” Quirindongo said of her parents. “She was in love with him until the day she died.”
Liantonio, who worked as a school bus driver after retiring from the sanitation department, lived with an unmatched cheerfulness, Dellilo said. He bowled with friends, tuned in to nearly every Yankees game and went dancing at the local Elks lodge up until his death.
About three years ago, Dellilo, who lived with her grandfather for several years, decided she wanted to broadcast Liantonio’s antics. She began recording him during dinner or while they were driving or even as he experimented with the video delivery app, Snapchat, for the first time.
“I wanted to share his jovial, witty personality with my friends,” Dellilo said. “They all loved him and said they felt like they knew him through my pictures and videos.”
He “never complained” and his enthusiasm and generosity never flagged even as his prostate cancer metastasized and spread into his spine, Dellilo said.
While she was recovering from recent surgery, Dellilo remembers her grandfather coming to her home “with a red rose and two doughnuts” to wish her well.
“He was always thinking about other people,” Dellilo said. “He was just the most thoughtful and caring man.”
Liantonio is preceded in death by his wife and daughter, Phyllis Liantonio. In addition to Quirindongo and Dellilo, he’s survived by another daughter, Joan Beska of North Babylon; three other grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
A wake was held for Liantonio July 15 at the Dalton Funeral Home in New Hyde Park and a Mass was celebrated on July 17 at St. Anne’s Church in Garden City. He was buried in St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.