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Bayside’s Joe Lupo remembered fondly

Joe Lupo helps out at a cooking class in L'Italiano Trattoria earlier this year. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Michael Feiner, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, said he has never seen more people line up to say goodbye to a loved one than he had for Joe Lupo, of Flushing, who died suddenly last month of heart complications.

“The line was out the door,” Feiner said. “He was so vital to our community and he will be missed.”

Lupo, 64, died Sept. 22 from heart complications. His funeral service was held the following week at Mary’s Nativity Church in Flushing and he was buried at Saint John Cemetery in Middle Village.

He worked closely with Feiner as his group organized the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial in Bayside Hills by providing power for the group’s annual ceremonies, watering the monument and maintaining the grounds. Feiner and his family would return the favor by frequenting Lupo’s Oakland Gardens restaurant, L’Italiano Trattoria, at 216-01 Horace Harding Expwy.

At L’Italiano Trattoria, Lupo and his wife Grace would dish out Italian cuisine with a family-oriented approach. Grace Lupo also gave back to the community by offering cooking lessons to area elementary school students.

Lupo is survived by wife Grace Lupo and his two sons, Joseph and Vinny. But beyond his immediate family, his memory lives on through the countless everlasting friendships he had made throughout his decades in Queens.

Community Board 11 Chairman and Bayside Hills resident Jerry Iannece grew up with Lupo in Astoria and said he most admired his work ethic.

“He was a great guy and a great role model,” Iannece said. “When he and his family first came here from Sicily, Joe spoke very little English. But he worked real hard and was always out there trying to help other people.”

Two years ago, Joseph Lupo, Jr. helped open a karate school in Whitestone, the New York Black Belt Center, at 12-40 Clintonville St., to carry on a love he had shared with his father for decades. John Rodriguez, a senior black belt at the center, said he studied with the Lupo family for nearly 18 years and learned a lot from Grand Master Joe Sr.

“He has always been very passionate about teaching this art,” Rodriguez said. “He had the patience of a saint. He’s always been there and treated this school as if it were his own family.”

Students and coworkers joined with family members and friends on Joseph Lupo Jr.’s Facebook wall since his father’s death to remember their close friend.

“A sad day to say goodbye to Grand Master Joe,” Carla Laufer wrote on Joseph Lupo Jr.’s Facebook page. “We were fortunate to know him and only wish we had more time to know him better. His wonderful spirit will live on in lives he has touched.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 11:32 pm, October 3, 2012
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