Chris Caruso, president of the Council of Italian American Societies, shares thoughts about the passing of radio giant John LaBarca.
Visiting hours will be Sunday, June 4 from 12:00 to 3 PM in the Adzima Funeral Home, 50 Paradise Green Place, Stratford, CT. All other services will be private. In lieu of flowers, those desiring may make a donation in memory of John to the Wounded Warriors Project P.O. Box 758517 Topeka, KS 66675-8517. To make an online condolence, please visit www.adzimafuneralhome.com
As President of the Council of Italian American Societies of Greater Bridgeport, I offer my personal and our organization’s sincere condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family and friends on the recent passing of John LaBarca.
As another day goes by, reality begins to set in on the passing of John LaBarca or “JLB” as some affectionately called him. With the exception of audio and video recordings, his radio voice is now silent, but his legacy of performing acts of goodwill and his “larger than life” personality are timeless. For those of us who are of Italian descent, our community has lost a friend, devoted supporter and storyteller supreme.
John’s “Italian House Party” was an institution each Sunday in countless kitchens and households throughout the tristate area. Each week, for a period of time, it transported us back to our roots growing up as Italian Americans. It reminded us of our rich heritage, our time honored traditions, delicious cuisine and cultural contributions, but most importantly, it helped us to relive our fond childhood memories of family. We laughed with John, cried with him and celebrated our heritage together. The truth be told, even those not of Italian descent, looked forward each week to tuning in to the Italian House Party on WICC, and John always made everyone feel welcome and part of la famiglia!
John’s support of countless not-for-profit organizations reached far beyond the Italian community to fundraising opportunities that he either participated in or led; festivals, music programs, telethons, award dinners or stage shows were just a few of the activities he leant his name to in support of our community and the tristate area. At times, if lucky, you got to hear him belt out a rendition of Sinatra’s hit, “My Way” or read the ever popular version of “Growing up Italian!”
On a personal note, I have known John for over three decades and appeared frequently on his radio shows to promote various Italian-American activities that were taking place in the community, in particular; the annual Bridgeport Columbus Day Parade and Celebration. Whether riding in a car, serving as the Honorary Grand Marshal or announcing the festivities live from the parade route, John was always there wearing his green, white and red hat proudly depicting the colors of the Italian flag.
As a soldier in the United States Army, John served in Vietnam and eventually rejoined civilian life with an honorable discharge. Because of his love for America, which he often spoke proudly of, it was no coincidence that he passed away on Memorial Day.
At a later time, and in concert with his family, the Council is considering a formal recognition of John’s legacy and contributions to the Italian community.
John now joins his Mother, Father and his Aunt Mary in eternal peace. John, fino a quando ci incontriamo di nuovo, John, addio e dio benedica! (John, until we meet again, farewell and God bless!)