Born in Gioi, Salerno, Italy, Benito was surrounded by his devoted family when his soul was called home to rest. He was cared for by his angelic wife, Anna Scarpa, for 54 years of marriage. He was a loyal father and grandfather to his oldest daughter, Sandra Gallelli and her two sons, Marco and Gianluca, and to his youngest daughter and son-in-law, Rita and Christopher Merante and their four children, Nicholas, Anna, Lana, and Andrew. Predeceased by his oldest grandchild, Marco Gallelli; his parents, Nicola and Chiara Scarpa; his brother, Michael Scarpa; and his two sisters, Louisa DiBello and Josephine Chassen. He will be remembered for his unconditional love for his family, his unwavering work ethic, and his genuine love for life.
If you would like to celebrate his life, there will be a public Funeral Mass held at Sacred Heart Cathedral located at 2461 Lake Avenue, Rochester, New York on November 18, 2021 at 9:30am. The viewing and the burial will be private. Family requests no flowers please. Benito, also known as “Papa,” “Nonno,” and "Benny" is loved and will be deeply missed by us all. We LOVE you!
Benito Scarpa’s Eulogy
July 11, 1936 - November 7, 2021
A “Love Letter” to Benito Scarpa
written by Rita Merante, daughter
On behalf of my mother, Anna, and my sister, Sandra, and all of our children and family, we want to thank you for taking the time out of your lives to come here today to honor the life of my father, Benny. When I was a little girl, one of the most important lessons my father taught me is that when you are talking in front of a group of people, make sure that you speak clearly so that everyone can hear you. Today I hope I can make it through this eulogy, Papa, and that you can hear me loud and clear from Heaven even without your hearing aids on. Here is a love letter from all of us to share with the world about what a wonderful husband, father, and Nonno you were to us. I’m going to highlight five main messages to share with everyone. As you always said, “Say a few special words.”
First and foremost, our Papa was truly one of a kind. Gianluca, his grandson, said, “You just don’t meet people like him anymore.” He was a man of his word. He always wanted to say a few special words whether it was for grace at a Christmas meal or writing heartfelt words in a card he was planning on giving someone. He spoke directly from his heart and would spend hours picking the right words, rearranging them, until he got it exactly right. In his last hours, he told me that he wrote a love letter to the most important women in his life, his mother, and of course, his wife, Anna. Especially over the last couple of years of his illness, he would constantly tell Sandra and me that our mother, Anna, was his angel for taking such wonderful care of him, and literally sitting by his side day and night. He was so thankful for her love and commitment to their marriage of fifty-four years. He met her back in Gioi, Italy when they were young children before he moved to America. He always knew she was a treasure, and he went back to marry her. They had a six-month honeymoon, driving up and down Italy in Papa’s GTO that he brought from America. Sandra and I witnessed his love for her when he would come home from hunting with a bouquet of wildflowers, or he would cut out the “Love is” cartoons from the newspaper after his long day of work and he would put them in his lunchbox for her to find. Their love story reads like a fairy tale.
Secondly, our Papa was one of the strongest and hardest-working people I have ever met. In his work at Genesee Brewery, he was always selected by his boss to oversee important jobs. His bosses always knew the job would not only get done, but be done well. He always arrived early to work and appointments, and believed it was a sign of respect to honor people’s time and schedules. Our parents' hard work and dedication put Sandra and me through college, an accomplishment he was always so proud of, especially being immigrants from Italy. We were fulfilling his American dream. I remember coming home with a 98 percent on an assignment with the highest grade in the class, and he asked me, “What happened to the 2 points?” I think we were the only five-year-old kids on the block who had homework every night to perfect our handwriting. He always pushed us to do our best. He always did his best and was unstoppable. I remember he painted the outside of our entire house on Buckman Road in one day. Who does that? Benito Scarpa does.
Thirdly, my father was so proud of his Italian heritage. Sandra and I have so many fond memories of going to pick bushels and bushels of tomatoes and spreading them out in our garage. It was always farm to table with homemade sauce and a slice of Italian bread...a little piece of heaven every Sunday. He loved making his homemade wine and would share it with his special family and friends, of course, mixed with 7up. He was overjoyed when he became a member of the Italian American Sports Club and the Union, where he was able to be his jolly and helpful self with his million-dollar smile, always helping and going the extra mile. He loved helping at the luncheons and with the Special Olympics, he was a contributor and honorable participant. We remember the endless pool parties with our cousins from Rochester and New Jersey at our house, eating watermelon and watching my father do backflips into our sparkling pool. He always wanted his family together and would do anything to make that happen. He specifically would buy larger vehicles just for that reason. His garden was always fruitful and he once tried to grow a zucchini to make the Guinness Book of World Records. It grew to 5 feet 11 inches, even much taller than him, however, it didn’t break the record because of a squirrel who decided to chew on the stem, but it did end up on the local news and in the newspaper.
One day, my father and I were talking and the topic of praying came up which brings me to my fourth point. He told me that every night before he went to bed he would pray for health, courage, and strength. He was an eternal optimist. He believed that Earth was paradise. He loved waking up with the sun, going out to his garden, listening to the birds chirping, and completing all of his chores before lunch time. He especially loved his time with his grandchildren. He was so overjoyed when he heard that his first grandson, Marco, would be born. He always appreciated when Marco helped him with projects around the house and admired his hard work. He cherished the times he would spend with Gianluca teaching him all of his hunting techniques and was over the moon when he shot a ten-point buck. He was Nicholas’s greatest cheerleader and was his number one supporter when he achieved Salutatorian. Days before his passing, Anna and Lana played their instruments for my parents like they have always done when we went to visit, giving them their own private concert. He always insisted that these two girls “needed to be discovered.” He loved playing Gin with Andrew and calling him his Curly Boy. What a beautiful legacy you have left here on Earth, Papa, through your grandchildren. I know the day that my sister was born was one of the greatest days of my father’s life. He was so proud that she made him a father, and we have countless pictures in albums to prove it. When she was a little girl he would raise her up in the air with one hand. People who saw this were in awe of his strength and joy for life. In recent years, he respected Jay for the way he loves and peacefully cares for my sister, Sandra. Papa always called me his “sunshine” and “mini-doctor.” He always loved and respected Chris as his son-in-law, telling me I chose a good one. I sure did. One of our fondest memories as little girls was holding his pinky finger when we went for a walk. We felt so protected. We WERE his world. Now, as parents ourselves, we appreciate how strict he was with us and guiding us on the right path in this life. He was a family man and would do anything for us.
My last and final highlight was that my father’s life was so full of joy and purpose. We loved hearing his stories about when he was young and would race his friends in the sand on their hands. His physical strength was incredible. If anyone was ever moving, he considered himself a “moving service” and would help anyone move couches, pianos, and refrigerators. We spent hours upon hours every weekend watching him referee the Lancers games. When Italy won the World Cup, he led the charge as we all jumped in the pool with our clothes on. He could also fix anything. He had many random pieces in his workshop and always prided himself on finding just the right piece to make something new again. He was so creative and spent hours making wooden crafts to sell. He had a following of people who came to his stand year after year to add to their collections. He loved his dogs and built them a palace in his backyard equipped with insulation and all. When he was a young boy, he was a shepherd. We thought the gospel reading we chose today fit my father perfectly, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me.” My parents have always shepherded people into their home. There were always people sitting around their kitchen table, or invited to their yearly picnics. My parents have lived their faith in their home.
In conclusion, just last week Papa told me, “Rita, goditi la tua vita,” which means, “enjoy your life,” in Italian. I know Papa knows how much we all loved him and worked hard caring for him. I can hear him saying, “Send me the bill, I’ll send you my regards.” It’s hard when your greatest cheerleader goes to Heaven. When I was driving home from the hospital after you passed away, I heard the song “Heaven” when I pulled into my driveway. I have no doubt that Marco met you at the pearly gates of Heaven in his newly designed Cadillac and brought you to the place where Nonna, Nonno, Uncle Mike, Zia Lisetta, and Aunt Josephine were gathered basking in the joys of Paradise with God. I can’t even imagine that reunion. I know there is a thin veil between Heaven and Earth and that you will continue to be by our sides. Until we meet again Papa, we will all continue to fill our life’s purpose. You will ALWAYS live forever in our hearts. We love and adore you. Rest in Peace, Mio Bello Padre.