Feb. 10, 1931 - Feb. 13, 2018
Like many Western New Yorkers, Lawrence J. Aroneseno, known as Larry, faced a challenge when he was let go in 1983 by Bethlehem Steel, where he had worked in the strip mill for more than 30 years.
Unlike most, the 52-year-old headed to college for the first time in his life, completing a two-year program at Trocaire College to become a registered nurse. He went on to work as a registered nurse at the Gowanda Psychiatric Facility and then at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center until he retired at age 66.
Mr. Aroneseno, a Marine Corps veteran, animal lover, avid reader and jazz and classical music enthusiast, died unexpectedly Tuesday in his Hamburg home, three days after his 87th birthday.
"Larry worked hard at staying healthy and independent," said his sister, Arlene Grasso of West Seneca. "He was known for his 3- to 5-mile walks throughout the village, regardless of the weather or season."
Mr. Aroneseno served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1950 to 1952, stationed in Cherry Point, N.C.
He married at age 43 in 1974 after being reunited with childhood sweetheart Donna Couhig, who encouraged him to go to college after being laid off. The two were avid readers who led a book club in their home for many years, attended by participants from throughout Western New York. Self-educated, Aroneseno "could have a detailed conversation on philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, ancient and modern history, politics, jazz or classical music," said Grasso.
Mrs. Aroneseno had health issues stemming from contracting polio as a child; her husband cared for her at home before her death from breast and bone cancer in December 1996, when she was 65. "They had a strong bond and loving relationship," said Grasso.
Mr. Aroneseno surrounded himself with books and music and at the time of his death was reading "The Gene: An Intimate History," a 600-page book by Siddhartha Mukherjee. He had season tickets for many years for Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Albright-Knox Art of Jazz Series.
Grasso recalled a significant trip they shared in October of 2015 when they visited her son, Tom, in Rome. "We both became emotional when the plane touched down in Rome, both feeling the emotional arrival to our father’s homeland and that of all our other ancestors," she said.
Mr. Aroneseno loved nature and animals. "He told me he was convinced the hummingbirds said hello to him at his door when they arrived in the spring and goodbye when they left in the fall," said Grasso. He was dedicated to animal rescue and rehabilitation, adopting and caring for several cats through the years. His constant companion of 10 years, a rescue cat named Lancelot, passed away one week before Mr. Aroneseno.
"He was a very gentle, caring man, very honest, very compassionate and extremely generous to everyone," said Grasso. "He was greatly respected and loved by all."
Besides his sister, Mr. Aroneseno is survived by a brother, Gerald, and several nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may attend a memorial service from 10 to 11 a.m. Feb. 24, in Lombardo Funeral Home's Southtown Chapel, 3060 Abbott Road near Lake Avenue. A funeral service will follow immediately at Lakeside Cemetery, 4810 Camp Road, Hamburg.