Benedetto R. LoBalbo obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Benedetto R. LoBalbo

September 15, 1947 - January 13, 2018

Obituary


The Ben. My dad.

He was honest, robust, full of integrity and dirty jokes. He was easy-going (unless you were the person on the other end of a customer service phone call), and a hell of a lot of fun.

He was a 2nd generation Italian-American, and a true New Yorker whose accent would come running back to him as soon as we crossed into Manhattan on visits. He went to Georgetown as a 16 year old. Convinced he would get drafted in Vietnam (he would have been right) he joined...

The Ben. My dad.

He was honest, robust, full of integrity and dirty jokes. He was easy-going (unless you were the person on the other end of a customer service phone call), and a hell of a lot of fun.

He was a 2nd generation Italian-American, and a true New Yorker whose accent would come running back to him as soon as we crossed into Manhattan on visits. He went to Georgetown as a 16 year old. Convinced he would get drafted in Vietnam (he would have been right) he joined the Navy as a pilot and flew OV-10's with the Black Ponies in Vietnam and lived with a boa constrictor named Dr. No. After Vietnam he flew A-6 attack jets off the USS Nimitz and USS America. He was blown off the deck of an aircraft carrier into the Mediterranean and lived to tell the tale.

Before the war he met the prettiest girl in the south; after the war he married her and had four children. He left the military after serving and ran a business placing military vets into civilian jobs for the rest of his career.

He was a pro at cooking and keeping meals warm nightly for a family of six and somehow always managed to always have enough dinner made every night for a couple of my or my sibling's friends to drop by without notice.and they dropped by constantly, often just so they could have a gourmet meal on a random weeknight. Not once in my childhood do I remember him letting us eat dinner without mom coming home to join us at the table despite her telling us to eat without her because she might be home late. He loved her.

He would show up to my parent career days dressed in a cape and do a magic show instead of talking about his work. He let us shoot a BB gun from the deck in the evenings for target practice while he and my mom drank red wine and sat amongst the trees.

In warm months they would watch with feigned disapproval as Ashleigh and I climbed the roof and shimmied up a favorite tree that went about 2.5 stories high. As summer suns would set he would throw sets of car keys up for the bats to catch, then grill out for the family on the deck, his beloved tiki torches ablaze.

At Halloween he would stuff dummies, bring out the full-size black cardboard coffin, empty the storage closet dedicated to Halloween decorations, dress up as Dracula or Phantom of the Opera, and put on a haunted house that changed every year-letting us disguise ourselves amongst the dummies and scare the living daylights out of whoever came our way. Our house became a local trick-or-treat hot spot.
He would give us all tickets to a Broadway show every Christmas and in the evenings he would blast Phantom of the Opera while I would sing and perform up and down the couch. At New Years he and my mom would host epic parties-at midnight he would make hot Italian sausages on buns with mustard and yellow banana peppers. Over the years he learned how to cook cornbread (without measuring) that would impress even my southern family.

In the winters he would have us lug firewood up the stairs and after teaching us how to light a fire, we would spend the following years debating the best way to position logs, and whether or not we should cheat and use a starter log. We went through cords and cords of wood. In the blizzard of '96 he and my mom let us jump off our 2-story deck into the snow.

He could grow plants effortlessly-the past few summers he and my mom would send me home from visits with grocery bags full of fresh basil- but he especially loved his roses.

He only bought stick shift cars. Brian, Ash and I all learned to first drive on a manual. Three of his purchases were cherry red sports cars he pretended were for him but quickly passed onto Brian, Ashleigh and myself.

He never made me feel like I needed his approval, and whereas many dads might ask their daughter to walk around in a paper bag, the one time I asked his opinion on an outfit was the one time he gave it. He simply said, "If you got it, flaunt it."

He never made me feel dainty or precious. He never once made me feel like I should be anyone but myself. He and Mom let me run wild through the woods with the boys, playing manhunt, scraping knees, catching crayfish, building bridges, digging for worms, going fishing, and wandering down around the creek for hours without checking in.

He and Mom taught us how to have a home that felt like home. How friends were always welcome, and that there was always room for one more at the table or under the roof, with or without notice, weeknights and holidays alike.

He and my mom raised a family of wild, independent natured, freethinking children. We were told we were unruly - to our faces - at least once (surely hundreds of times behind our backs though). I think he liked that about us. I know I did.

As the grandchildren began to arrive we asked him what he wanted to be called. He told us he wanted them to call him whatever they wanted and that "Ben" would be fine, but upon further pressing finally decided on BB (Big Ben).

It was really hard to say goodbye to him, but in true Ben LoBalbo fashion, he left us on his own terms and once he decided he was ready there was no changing his mind. And my father, the generous gesture-filled man that he was, who gave roses out to every single woman who arrived at my wedding, left us all (my family and his close friends) with gifts (oranges to be exact) the week of his passing. more about that later though...

For everyone who ever came over for dinner, or who drank wine with our family and laughed in our house--I know you will know the piece of us that is now missing. For those of you who have only heard about him through my stories, damn, you missed out on one of the great ones.
--

BB. The Ben. Bendetto LoBalbo. His ashes will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors some number of months from now. We will send out more information once a date is solidified.
In the meantime, please do as we are doing - by pouring a glass of red wine and saying "Salute."

-- Written by Allie Brown, and with love and thanks from the entire LoBalbo family