On April 23rd of this year, my father, Vincent T. LoCoco passed away. He was my inspiration in all of my life’s endeavors. Here is my Eulogy I offered for him at his funeral.
My father always loved the scene in the movie, A Man for All Season’s, when Sir Thomas More is standing on the scaffold, awaiting his execution, and pulls his daughter into his arms. He tells her:
“Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not yourself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God.”
Even though we know death is certain, death still stings to those left behind, whether it is sudden or, as in this case, expected, after a long, slow walk through aging, dementia and sickness. It doesn’t matter if at the time of death we are young or old, rich or poor, if it is summer or winter. The only thing that matters is that we have lived a good life, one in which we have lived for others, and that we have given ourselves completely throughout this venture of life for Ad Majorem Dei Gloria (For the Greater Glory of God). So that when we pass away, Jesus will meet us at the gates of Heaven and say, well done, faithful servant, come inside. I will open the gates for you. There is a place prepared for you.
Vincent Theodore LoCoco lived a good life. Indeed, he was a good and faithful servant. He accepted life’s sufferings and tribulations without ever a complaint. There is no doubt that the gates are wide open upon his arrival.
My mother asked me to say a few words. I sat down with my sisters and this is what we wanted everyone to know. We were blessed to have this man as our father. The life lessons he taught us, we can only hope that we can pass down to our children.
As most of you know, my father was in the seminary and studied in Rome at the Gregorian University. He left the Seminary and became a lawyer- as he put it- to help people. And that is what he did. He was a unique lawyer. One who cared more about the truth rather than victory. One who would rather lose a case than lose his soul.
When he graduated from law school, he took his first job with a small firm. He handled all sorts of matters, including defending some ladies of the night as they were called back then. After a few cases, he was called in by the heads of the firm who had received many complaints from some of the Madams, advising that the young attorney assisting these women in legal matters was also working on having them leave their life behind. If you knew Vincent, this really would not be a surprise.
I had the pleasure working with my father for over 20 years in law practice. I have never seen any other attorney walk into a courtroom and from the bench the judge would yell out – well it’s the Pope, a nickname that stuck with him his entire life. I also had the honor of reading some of his briefs written to many Appeals Courts and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Yes he argued the law. But morality and ethical considerations flowed throughout.
As just one example, in a Constitutional case before the Louisiana Supreme Court, this is what he wrote:
“I call upon this Court to honor our profound heritage and legacies of our history. There must be a renewed dedication of the citizens of Louisiana and for all of the American people to the still unfinished and continued experiment of this democracy to reach a full realization of the value of human dignity, the freedom of the human spirit, and the sacredness of the human person under God.”
He was fearless in taking on cases, and he represented clients from all backgrounds, races or creeds, from millionaires to cab drivers. Each client received the same dedicated representation and counsel. If he taught me anything it was this – your reputation is all that matters. And his reputation was impeccable.
My father loved the law, but he loved his family even more, and always had time for us, sitting down to dinner with his family every night.
He was the Clark Griswald of Vacations before there was a Clark Griswald. Taking us to places such as Alustee, Florida, The Crater, and Thunderbird INN in Winnemucker, Nevada on the way to The Little Big Horn. That was quite memorable.
With his dad, he formed the Sunday Morning Summer Club, which took place year round, playing Key to the Fort or sneaking into Tad Gormerly Stadium to play football.
He was a slave to fashion. Riding his bike in City Park to watch me at Jesuit baseball practice dressed in his Bermuda shorts and high black socks. I would quickly deny to my teammates that I knew who that man was standing by the school bus.
He was proud of his Sicilian Heritage, with his family immigrating from Cefalu and Monreale. He loved Italian food and desert, opera and in particular, the music of Giacomo Puccini, and the tenor, Giuseppe di Stefano.
He was a romantic who loved Errol Flynn movies and the film music of Korngold.
It is so appropriate that we are here at Holy Rosary, a place that he loved and dedicated his entire life to and where all of us went to school.
He left the Seminary in hopes of one day having a son. Although he had two girls before his wish was granted, he did end up loving those girls almost as much me. All joking aside, he loved all of us, as well as all of his ten grandchildren – even those who went to Holy Cross.
As for our mom, his wife of 54 years. What can be said to a woman who cared deeply for him and attended to all of his needs, which only grew over the past few months. She kept him at his home, a place where he grew up, for as long as humanly possible. All we can say to you Mom is thank you for a job well done. Dad would want you to know that “Walking through life with you has been a most gracious thing.”
For a man who spent his entire life telling others, “God, bless you,” it’s time we ask God to bless him. Vincent has earned his reward. Today he is reunited with his parents, Sugar and Mustache, a whole host of Sicilian aunts and uncles fawning all over him, providing him with sphenchi and Spitzedatda.
Where he once again can see Rose and Rosemary, Colin and Bert.
My final thought is to quote from perhaps his most favorite movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus Finch is leaving the courtroom, I know for certain when the casket leaves this Church after mass, this quote will be on our minds.
“ Miss Jean Louise: Stand up. Your father’s passing.”