On behalf of my aunt, Maria Nadoraski, I write this pride and a commitment to helping her raise as much money as possible for the North East Kidney Foundation through the Catwalk 2018 event in memory of my Nonno, Antonino Lombardo. 

Born on September 22, 1931 in literally the mountains of Sicily, his life wasn’t always easy. But he had an American Dream. In 1960 he set out on his path of following that dream and moved to Albany. Without knowing the language, the way of life or the customs, he set out to be one of the most influential business owners I know :I also know I’m a bit biased:: 

As soon as he moved here, he began workings as a butcher, walking from Albany to Rensselaer every day. He married my Nonna in 1961- and the rest, as they say, is history. 

By 1969, he had not only become a father of five, but he had also saved enough money to open his own business, Lombardo’s Grocery. He was pinnacle in the Washington Park neighborhood, letting people pay him back so they could feed their kids, offering funny conversation and a swift kick in the tush, if and when you needed it. The next decade brought another child and another business venture, Lombardo’s Wine and Liquor. And the decade after that, he welcomed his first grand daughter and Lombardo’s Automotive. 

When he began these ventures his goal was to always ensure his children never had to work for anyone, to show them that from nothing you can become something. I know he instilled that in me. 

But stubborn he was. He was diagnosed with diabetes, but it didn’t hold him back from the cookies that he would sneak in his pockets. It didn’t hold him back from not smoking his signature White Owl cigars. It didn’t hold him back from anything, except living life a little bit longer. 

In 2007 his vision began failing and as stubborn as he was, he drove the .8 miles to work at 8 every morning, home for his siesta at noon and back to work from 4 til 9 pm. We, as a family had to tell him a little white lie (thank goodness my uncle and father were mechanics at none other than Lombardo’s Automotive) that something was wrong with his 1980 boat of a Lincoln. It was ok though, because by that time I was living and working with him. I was cool with driving Mr. Daisy. 

6 weeks before I left for law school, his health took a turn and when my dad and I were scheduled to leave, he went into the hospital. I put my move off a week, just to make sure he was stable enough for us to go without a huge worry on our 13 hour drive to Michigan. Before we left at the end of August, he was placed on dialysis- every day. It was awful for him. The family took turns taking him to his appointments, making sure my grandmother was doing ok and providing the support, love and comfort he needed. 

Dialysis proved too much for him and six weeks after starting- he stopped. HE stopped. He left us on September 24, 2010. It was a hard few days for us all. But, he left us lessons we could never forget. 

As stubborn as he could be, his lessons, in hindsight, were always the the ones of most reason. He taught us to be good people, to stick up for underdog even if it wasn’t popular. He taught us that living life on your terms was worth every ounce of sweat, tears and blood you may shed. He was fickle and demanding, but it helped all of us grow character, a thick skin and the ability to be the changers of our worlds. He taught us, even if it was by example instead of words, that no matter what you do, be the best you can; don’t let others stand in your way; and when they tell you no, show them that they actually underestimated you and the answer should have been yes to begin with. 

What he built from nothing but a dream for his wife, 6 children, their spouses, his 17 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren is nothing short of a legacy. Because of him, each of us have realized the opportunity to build our own path with unwavering love, dignity and pride. 

Thank you for your support of anyone who has suffered from kidney disease and related issues.

All the best,

Jacqualine C. Lombardo, Esq.


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