The East Haven Fire Department — as well as the town itself — has lost a beloved member of its community.
Joseph Lauria, a volunteer firefighter with East Haven's Company #1 for more than 30 years, passed away Monday after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.
'Always Smiling, Always Positive'
Lauria had been battling the disease since he was first diagnosed more than two years ago.
"He would always say, 'Don't worry about me, I'm going to beat this,'" Joe Ciscone, a fellow East Haven firefighter and lifelong friend of Lauria's, told East Haven Patch this morning. "And he did right up to the end."
"He was a great, great guy," Ciscone said. "He never had a bad word to say about anybody… always positive, always smiling."
Three Decades of Service
Ciscone said Lauria first became a volunteer East Haven firefighter in 1979.
"He rose through the ranks of the volunteers over the years, eventually becoming captain, which is the hightest rank you can have as a volunteer," he said.
Although Lauria eventually stepped away from active duty, he remained highly involved in the department.
"He served as the treasurer of Company 1 for 25 years," Ciscone said, adding that Lauria's wife, Beverly, remained involved with the company's Ladies Auxillary, as well.
"The whole family was involved," he said.
Community Comes Together
And Laurias' long-standing record of community spirit, service and support was returned during the tough times of Joseph's illness.
Friends and neighbors banded together to hold community fundraisers to assist the family not just financially, but with emotional support as well.
The most recent gathering was held this past June. And afterwards, even with his health beginning to take a turn for the worse, Lauria made a special effort to thank all those who had attended the family cookout.
"While I continue to battle pancreatic cancer, I know each day that I am blessed and lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. You are all my best friends and you have brought out the best in me, even through this difficult time of my life," Lauria wrote in his open letter to the community.
'Loved By Everybody'
Ciscone said that that is just the kind of man his friend, Joseph, was — and will always be remembered.
"He was just always there for everybody," he said. "It's really a devastating loss for his friends, family and this town… he was loved by everybody."
Wake, Funeral Services
Calling hours for family, friends and neighbors will be held today from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Clancy Funeral Home at 43 Kirkham Avenue in East Haven.
The funeral will be held tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. at Clancy Funeral Home. It will be followed by a mass of Christian Burial at St. Vincent de Paul Church in East Haven starting at 10 a.m., and then burial at the East Lawn Cemetery on River Road.
Memorial contributions may be made to Project Purple, 141 So. Main St., Beacon Falls, 06403.
Lauria is survived by his wife Beverly; children Alicia and Agostina Lauria, and Joseph R., Nicholas A. and Stephen A. Lauria; and his mother, Lena Scalia Lauria. All are East Haven residents.