Peter C. Laspina, 87, of West Palm Beach, Florida, formerly Central Islip, died Saturday, February 9 in a hospital in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Peter was born May 19, 1925 in Central Islip, Long Island. He was one of eight children of Italian immigrant parents, Mariano and Maria Laspina. Although times were tough during his childhood years, there was always the strong sense of family in his upbringing. As a youngster, there were numerous family functions with aunts, uncles, and cousins. As an adult, he remained close to his siblings and continued the family gatherings with the next generation of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who still remain close to this day.
As a youngster and throughout his adult life, Pete had a sense of humor, practical joking, and an infectious grin. His high school yearbook portrayed him as “Most Likely to be ‘clowning around’”. Even in the hospital right before his death, he joked with the nurses and doctors, putting others at ease when he didn’t feel at ease.
Peter joined the Navy as an aviation machinist during World War II. He shared so many attributes with others of the “Greatest Generation”, including an intense sense of honesty, loyalty, helpfulness, and pride. His unwavering honesty was one of his greatest attributes. His many friendships garnered during the war became true lifelong friends, with whom he corresponded right up until his death.
After the war, he returned to Long Island and worked at the same auto garage he had apprenticed at as a teen. It was during this time that he met his future wife, a farm girl from northern NY, Barbara Rodee. They were married in 1950 and celebrated 60 years of marriage before her death in January 2011. He began his life with his wife as an auto mechanic in his own business, “Pete’s Garage”. He later worked in the construction industry, building roads throughout Long Island. He was a true handyman and could fix just about anything in his house and car.
Peter and Barbara raised six children together. He always had time to work on projects with his kids, teach them life’s practical skills, and ensure that they were all individuals. His sense of family extended to Barbara’s family, and he went to every gathering, travelling long distances for reunions and visits. During these travels, he fell in love with northern NY and the Adirondacks and eventually bought a cabin intended for retirement. He loved open spaces and the out-of-doors, and the Adirondack cabin was a little piece of heaven for him. He and Barbara spent many years there, before the remote living and their increasing ages prompted a fulltime move to Florida.
Pete’s greatest joy was spending time with his family. His pride in his children and grandchildren was overwhelming, and he had so much fun visiting and sharing his latest adventure or story with them all.