Tomasulo travels Main Street one last time|Mourners assemble
on downtown streets
to pay their respects

Published 5:14 pm Saturday, September 12, 2009

Community Editor

Gary Lee Tomasulo was laid to rest in the city he adored on the anniversary of a day so meaningful in the latter years of his life.
On Sept. 11, 2009, eight years after the terrorist attacks in this nation, the patriotic Brooklynite was buried at Oakdale Cemetery under a somber, gray sky.
Tomasulo helped lay many others to rest following the 9/11 attacks, with the retired New York City corrections captain serving as a volunteer at a morgue where the bodies of 9/11 victims were placed.
Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, died Monday morning when he fell from a fire escape on a Main Street building he owned. Typical of Tomasulo, he was hard at work cleaning out an apartment in that building, which he recently purchased, when the accident occurred.
Tomasulo’s mourners recalled him as always working hard for the greater good of downtown Washington, whether that meant getting his hands dirty cleaning up an old building or going in front of the City Council to speak in opposition to increases in commercial utility rates.
Tomasulo’s influence on downtown Washington was on full display as his lengthy funeral procession crept down Second Street, turned left onto Gladden Street then making a left onto Main Street before heading to Oakdale Cemetery. Downtown seemingly stood still as its champion made one last pass from Bill’s Hot Dogs, to Main Street Scoops, to Whimsy, past the Turnage Theater, by his own La Bella Pizzeria, past Down on Mainstreet and, finally, heading north on Market Street.
His friends, acquaintances and fellow businessmen stood stoically, while others waved signs that read “Rest in peace, Gary” and “Gary, we miss you.”
Many have echoed the sentiments of the young women who held the sign that read “Gary, we miss you.”
“We’ve lost a lion for downtown,” Washington Mayor Judy Meier Jennette said shortly after hearing of Tomasulo’s death Monday.
“When you thought of downtown, you thought of Gary,” Catherine Glover, director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, said.
During Tomasulo’s Mass of the Resurrection at Mother of Mercy Catholic Church on Friday morning, Father M. Arturo Cabra spoke about how the Brooklynite touched so many Washingtonians in the eight short years since he and his wife, Marie, moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Washington.
Cabra’s homily noted how Tomasulo found a renewed purpose in retirement by working for downtown Washington.
“Gary took a leap of faith,” Cabra said.
Speaking to a standing room-only audience, Cabra said that sometimes God takes those who are productive and meaningful away from their loved ones too soon.
“But we have to remember, he’s not ours, he’s God’s,” Cabra said.
Following the funeral service, an American flag was draped over Tomasulo’s casket in honor of the three years served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He served on the USS Boxer after enlisting in 1966.
During the burial service at Oakdale Cemetery, the flag was folded and presented by a member of a Navy honor detail to Tomasulo’s wife of 40 years. Tomasulo’s family, including his wife, two sons, Gary and Jeffrey, his daughter, Jaime Albano, and his seven grandchildren, Paul and Landon Albano and Gary, Mallory, Colin, Gracie and Lyla Tomasulo, took turns laying their hands on his casket or kissing it before leaving the cemetery.
Tomasulo’s community involvement started long before he and his wife moved to Washington in 2001. After moving to Long Island from Brooklyn in 1973, Tomasulo helped coach his children in youth baseball and football, and he was involved in numerous other civic activities.
Through the Gary Tomasulo Downtown Washington Playground Fund, his family plans to continue Tomasulo’s efforts toward a better downtown for the youth of Washington. In that way, his dream for downtown Washington will always live on, family members said.
Memorials may be directed to the Gary Tomasulo Downtown Washington Playground Fund, 107 Island Lane, Washington, NC 27889.