Tag: CancerFighter

Celebrating A Life: Joe Palazzolo

The Cary Dog Park Gang!

I met Joe Palazzolo at the dog park in Cary, North Carolina. I would take my German Shepherd, Sophie, to the park every evening after work for exercise and had been doing this for a few months, I guess, when this guy visits for the first time with his Greyhound, Silver City Lou. We started talking and a good friendship was born.

The Character that was Joe Palazzolo

Joe’s family was from Sicily and he was proud of his Sicilian heritage. His wife was Kathy and her folks were from Sweden. Joe and I soon discovered we had a good bit in common. We were both familiar with the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys and the Adirondack Park of upstate New York State. We were both red-blooded, patriotic Americans, and we both liked to shoot. Eventually it came out that I enjoyed reading military history, and Joe told me he had a book for me to read. The book was Lucky Lady by Steve Jackson, and it is the story of a legendary World War II light cruiser, the USS Santa Fe.

During the war in the Pacific, Joe’s father served on the USS Santa Fe which earned the nickname Lucky Lady when the aircraft carrier, USS Franklin, was directly hit by two Japanese 500-pound bombs. As the Franklin listed heavily, becoming perilously close to capsizing, the light cruiser’s captain brought his ship in dangerously close, bellying up alongside the carrier’s flaming hull and keeping the ship afloat until the Franklin’s crew could be rescued. It is one of the most daring rescues in U.S. naval history.

Coincidently, Joe had a twin brother named Lou. One day during the Vietnam War, they both went down to enlist in the US Navy. Their mother put her foot down and said there was no way they were both enlisting and leaving her and their young sister to fend for themselves. Since Joe was doing a little better in school, the decision was made that Lou would enlist and Joe would stay home to look after the family.

Joe drove a bus in New York City for many years and eventually retired from his bus driver’s job. Often times he drove the early morning routes, and as you can imagine, he had some tales to regale listeners with. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall rode his bus regularly when they were in town filming episodes of The Odd Couple. Joe told me that Jack Klugman would hop on the bus and talk and joke with the other passengers. Tony Randall always tried to disguise himself and avoided talking to folks on the bus.

During his part-time limo driver gig, Joe had some adventures as well. One night, he was driving for some high school seniors on prom night. The kids left the prom and headed to Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. The limo drivers would park and wait in the alley alongside the club. One night, Rodney Dangerfield came out a back door of the club wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Spotting the limo drivers, he walked up to Joe and bummed a cigarette. He, Joe, and the other drivers had quite a conversation while Dangerfield smoked the cigarette. Then the comedian said good night, and headed back into the club. Rodney treated the drivers like anyone else. He was just one of the guys.

After his second heart attack, Joe was retired by the bus company. They told Joe they could not afford the risk of a third heart attack while he was behind the wheel of a bus. Undaunted, Joe took a job driving a hearse for a funeral company. He joked that the dead didn’t care if he had a heart attack or not. It didn’t matter to them.

Lou, Joe’s rescued Greyhound, is a great dog. Joe even had videos of races Silver City Lou had won during his career. If I remember correctly, Lou ran in fifty-five races. I believe Lou took something like twelve first places, and a bunch of seconds and thirds. By the time I met Joe, Lou had become a pretty laid-back dog who enjoyed relaxing. Occasionally he would get up and run around the dog park with the “pack.” Even at at his advanced age, he was poetry in motion when he ran. Lou and Sophie became pretty good friends and got along great the times I visited Joe and Kathy in their home.

The birth of Pallie

One day shortly after publishing my first book, I was telling to Joe about it. He said that he wasn’t much of a reader, but he’d love to read my book. So, I brought him a signed copy of Serpents Underfoot the next time we met at the park. Joe laughed because he’d already ordered a copy from Amazon. I think he gave one to his sister or something. Anyway, after Joe had read the book, he told me how much he loved the story, especially the characters. I laughed and said, that’s because you’re such a character yourself.

After some more joking around, Joe mentioned that he’d love to be a character in my next book, Montagnard, which I had just started working on. I thought, why not? So, a US Navy SEAL and good friend of my main character’s, named Pallie, was born. Joe was a perfect “model” for the part. Pallie is a tough-as-nails but fun-loving and big-hearted Sicilian-American Navy SEAL. His character is well-liked by many readers and will continue into the third book as well. Pallie, short for Palazzolo, has Joe’s personality, his sense of humor, his gruff exterior, and his kind heart. He is Joe if Joe had become a SEAL.

See you later, Joe!

Shortly after I moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I learned that Joe was sick and he was spending a good bit of time in the hospital. A few weeks ago, I went back to Cary to visit with Joe and some of our good friends. I am so glad I did. Just the other day, I learned that Joe lost his battle with cancer. I guess we all knew it was coming, but it is still hard. I will miss you, my friend. but I am happy you are no longer suffering. My prayers go out to Kathy, his wife, and his daughter, Lisa, who I met on my last trip, and the rest of Joe’s family.

If I know Joe, I am sure he is already spending time at a heavenly dog park with his previous Greyhound named Faster, and looking forward with great anticipation to Lou’s eventual arrival. And for my part, I look forward to talking to Joe again when Sophie and I get eventually there as well.

Helping those who served to protect us all.

Today, a Veterans Referring Veterans social is being held at Four Brothers Mead in Festus, Missouri. Sadly, I was unable to attend due to a previous engagement. These are a great bunch of people.

A Silent Auction for a Great Cause

At this social, a silent auction is being held to raise money for Lukas, the young son of a Marine Corp veteran and the owner of True Allegiance Flag Co, who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.

Rob, the owner of this amazing veteran-owned company, makes rustic wooden American flags you can proudly display in your home or office.

A signed set of my JD Cordell Action Series books was donated for this auction, as well as many other amazing products from veteran-owned businesses across the nation.

Meet Lukas

#FightLikeLukas

Lukas was taken to the local emergency room on Friday, October 16, 2020 for fever, bruising, and soreness. After blood work, it was discovered that Lukas’s platelets were extremely low and his white blood cell count was extremely high. The doctors decided to transport Lukas via ambulance to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis (2 hours away from home). 

It was there, around 1:30am, October 17, 2020, that the doctors delivered the news to Lukas’s parents that he has Leukemia. It was determined they would immediately start a blood transfusion to get his platelet count up (which had dropped even lower since the previous test), then later on in the day decide which type of Leukemia he has and start chemotherapy Monday, October 19, 2020. 

Later that day, it was determined that Lukas has Type B Leukemia (which apparently is the better of the two types). The plan to start chemotherapy Monday is still in place, and no surgery or radiation will be needed. He will also have a bone marrow biopsy and spinal type very soon. Lukas will be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks as of right now.

Jessie and Rob have 4 other children between the two of them that will be at home during this time. Jessie has two full time jobs, and Rob owns his own business making fantastic works of art out of wood. However, with them being two hour away from home and family, neither of them will be able to work during this time to provide for their family. 

It is our hope to be able to raise enough money for lodging, gas money, food, and ALL bills while their little family undergoes this hardship. We know that our God is a mighty God and He will provide!! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to support this magnificent family!

I know a lot of people are having a tough time right now, but …

If you can and would like to help, donations are also welcomed on their GoFundMe account, https://www.gofundme.com/f/fightlikeLukas. No donation amount is too small.