Testament for Richard S. Gresalfi

By John Mazzola 
September 24, 2010


Richie and I have been the best of friends for 40 years. We met at the beginning of the 7th grade school year.  Rich and his family had just moved to Long Island from the Midwest.  Mr. Gresalfi was beginning a new career as a math teacher in the brand new Seneca Junior High School where the entire Class of '77 came together having graduated from the various district wide grammar schools.  Mr. Cordere, my homeroom teacher and the band conductor, asked Rich (a percussionist) and I to attend an open house for parents new to the district in order to answer their questions from a students perspective.  Rich and I spent the evening together getting to know each other and instantly hit it off.  It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It wasn't until we started driving that Rich met my parents.  Bill Barber, being the first to pass his road test, would drive with Rich to pick me up usually to play basketball at the park.  One day Rich said that he got the impression my father didn't like him.  I replied, "It's not that he doesn't like you, he thinks you're gay!"  The next time Dad answered the door Rich and Bill were wearing their shortest shorts and holding hands!  That was Richie, always winning people over with his sense of humor.

It's difficult to imagine anyone not liking Rich.  I remember when I started dating Vivienne she felt somewhat jealous of the amount of time Rich and I were spending together.  Richie would secretly discover where Viv and I were going and would show up as if he were

stalking us.  We'd be in a restaurant and Vivienne would suddenly begin laughing because she noticed Rich peeking through a window. He was so much fun. To know him was to love him.

I enjoyed every moment I spent with Rich.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a thoughtful and generous man.  He had an amazing quality that enabled him to see the potential in people and in things. Whether remodeling a house or a room, trading up to the next car or boat, his vision was cerebral and never satisfied with the status quo. You can detect Rich's vision in every aspect of his life, his relationship with Jayne, his children's education, his career, even in his desire to bring people together.  He was always saying things like "You should meet so and so" or "You would like..." or "We should get together with...".  Rich had a concept he called "Worlds Colliding" where he revelled in bringing together different factions of friends or relatives; the meeting of say his high school and law school buddies.  He'd then stand back and observe with an impish grin the melding of the groups, morphing into a new entity.

Sadly, the finest example of Worlds Colliding occurred in the days following his death, when each afternoon and evening a gathering of families and friends, classmates and colleagues descended on Northport, the town he called home, where worlds collided for all who called Rich "my good friend".
Richie, I can't wait to see you again to tell you all about it.  Until then God bless you buddy and may God bless all of us who will miss you so very much.

John Mazzola- Friend