Rafael “Ralph” Pietro Firenze, 80, of Fulton, died Sunday, April 14, 2013 at the VA Medical Center in Syracuse after a long fight and courageous battle with heart disease.
He was born in Fulton July 26, 1932 to Pietro and Mary (Ditoro) Firenze. He was a graduate of Fulton High School and attended C.C.B.I. in Syracuse. After completing his course work he joined the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force, he attended North Dakota School of Science in Wahpeton, majoring in clerical services.
He was stationed abroad in Korea and Japan as well as several air bases across the States. He especially enjoyed his time spent in Japan and Spokane, Wash.
He served in the United States Air Force from October 1951 until his honorable discharge in January of 1958 with the rank of staff sergeant.
He enjoyed gardening and woodworking, but more than anything, spending time with his family.
He was predeceased by his daughter, Charlene and her husband Brad in 1979, and by his granddaughter, Alison in 1994.
He has been a widower since 1998 when he lost his wife and the love of his life, Ruth, whom he married September 10, 1949.
He was also predeceased by his brother, Paul and sister, Josephine.
He is survived by his daughter, Dawn and her companion Anthony; his son, Gary and his companion Joan; two brothers, Louis (Bonnie) and Peter; two sisters, Carmella and Christine (Gary); grandsons, Gary Lee (Maria), William (Cylest, Brianna), Kevin (Stacy), Geoffrey (Ashley); granddaughters, Christy (Joseph), Beth Rene (Robert) and Morgan Raye; great-grandsons, Austin, Alex, Ethan, Saverio, Mason, and Dante; great-granddaughters, Giuliana, Kylee, Gabriella, Mackenzie, Giana, and Alexandria; nephew Geno; his ex-daughter-in-law, Trudy; and many nieces, nephews and friends.
For the past several weeks, he had been living on the 8th floor of the VA Hospital in Syracuse where he was staying in the Hospice wing of the Community Living Center.
Calling hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 18 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 19 at Holy Trinity Church, corner of Rochester and South Third streets, Fulton.
A luncheon for family and friends will be held noon at Holy Trinity Church.
Contributions may be made to the VA Community Center, 800 Irving Avenue, 8th Floor, Syracuse, NY 13210.