Linda Scordino, the wife of the late Mayor Ralph Scordino, took to Facebook to share an open letter to the community about the passing of her husband.
Scordino died unexpectedly last week at his second home upstate, to what is believed to have been a heart attack. He was 71.
Here are the words from Linda via a post published on the Village of Babylon’s Facebook page.
To all those who were there:
I want to give a special thank you to all the wonderful people who braved the wind, rain, and COVID and came to Chapey’s Funeral Home to put your arms around me and my family during this sad time. I will never forget it. My mother taught me when I was very young that your true friends are those who are there for you when your face is in the mud. Well… my face is in the mud. I know that these are very difficult times and it took a lot to come and physically embrace us. We will never forget it. There are lots of people who say… Call if you need me. But then there are people who just show up when they know you might need someone. I needed people and hundreds of you were there. The line just never stopped. In and out they came. It was mind-boggling but so comforting.
Below is the statement I gave on Monday night at the funeral home. I want everyone to see that side of Ralph. The side we knew. Thank you and please keep us in your prayers,
Linda Scordino and family
statement from the Scordino family
Thank you for coming to this very sad and unexpected event. My family is doing the best we can at this time even though we are all in shock. I know that most of you knew Ralph as a colleague, friend, elected official, or school buddy. I want to talk to you about Ralph as a family man.
Ralph and I were married 45 years ago. It was a very unlikely union. I knew Ralph in elementary school and disliked him immensely. I was the book worm who did not socialize that much. Ralph was the very popular jock with crowds around him all the time. He was the life of the party and everyone loved him, except me. He liked the Beach Boys and I liked Motown. He liked the beach and I hated it. He was loud and I was quiet. Hard to believe that I was quiet back then, isn’t it?
We saw each other again while working in the West Islip Schools. I was ending a relationship and moving back to Long Island and felt kind of lost. I was a speech therapist in the West Islip Schools which meant that I traveled from school to school and it was very hard to make friends under those circumstances. In one of the schools I worked in, I saw Ralph’s name on the faculty roster. I though… Oh God, of all people to work here. However, I was desperate to know someone so I went down to the gym and knocked on the door. Who knocks on a gym door? Only me. He came to the door and I said….Hi, I’m Linda Monaco. I don’t know if you remember me but we went to St. Joseph’s together and I will be teaching here. In typical Ralph fashion, he said… Are you married? I said no. Then he asked if I was engaged. Although I was at the time, I knew that it wasn’t going to work out but I still said…………Yes, I am engaged. He said… too bad.. and closed the door. I stood there and thought that he was the same jerk that he was in elementary school. We worked across the hall from one another so I would see him a lot. One day he said that he knew that my fiancé was away on an internship and would I like to just hang out with him on occasion just for friendship. As I said, I was desperate so I said OK. He took me to a bar. A bar! I don’t drink and had never been to a bar even though I was 23. I hated the atmosphere and his friends. I asked him if we could leave and find a pizza place. We did. The next time he asked me out, HE TOOK ME TO ANOTHER BAR! He’s not a fast learner. Before we even got out of the car, there was a girl outside throwing up on the side of a car. I said that I was not going in and we left.
Even with our many differences and me not fitting in with his people, we were married two years later. A very unlikely couple and it showed. But, we were both very hard workers and we were building a life together. Politics came into our lives and we both rose to the top of our areas. It was hard but we did it while still working several jobs each.
When we had Dina, Ralph was in awe of her. He would come home from work and his first words were… Where is she? Not, how are you? What was your day like? He spent all his time with her. It was like I didn’t exist. He called her Bookie and I never knew why. When I was pregnant again I was praying for a boy so I would have someone. Paulie came along and he was mine. Well, he was mine until he got older and then they went fishing and hunting together. Paul played sports just like Ralph, and Ralph was at every game cheering him on. Paul is a chef and Ralph would often play sous chef to him. It was fun to watch. Paul works a tough job and it’s not always easy to communicate with him. Every day he questioned if we had heard from Paul and what he was up to. One of the last things they did together was fly kites. We laughed and laughed and laughed.
The years went by and we had our ups and downs like all couples. We were both hard workers and held prominent positions in the village so there was always a spotlight on us and our children. It was very hard. I became Ralph’s unofficial advisor regarding his position as mayor. If you could have only heard some of those conversations! There were a lot of curse words used. Sometimes he would purposely do the opposite of what I said to do and when it fell apart he tried to hide it from me. Being the mayor of a tiny community is very difficult and some people used him as a punching bag. He always took it to heart because he LOVED Babylon. It wasn’t a job for him. It was a privilege to be able to make Babylon a wonderful place to live. He went to every event, walked the village all the time, went out at all hours of the night to help residents, and spent every penny he made as mayor for the village through donations. Whenever someone said something negative about Babylon, he was crushed and took it very personally.
Both of our children married and we were blessed with MAGNIFICIENT daughter and son in-laws. We always had a great time when we were all together.
THEN CAME THE GRANDKIDS! Well… of course he took them over just like he did when Dina was born. Dina had to go back to work after a few weeks and I watched the girls at my house. It was very hard but I did it. Sometimes I don’t know how. When Dina came to get them, I didn’t just let them go. We all sat down and had dinner together and then she left with the girls. It was grueling but we ended up being very close to the grandkids.
When they were older and talking they would call the house… when they weren’t there… and say: Hi, WHERE’S POP POP? After a few of those, I said, “Listen, how about, Hi Mama, how are you? Where’s Pop Pop.” It took them a while but they finally got it down and remembered to say hello to me. We became very close and if he didn’t see the kids for a few days he was annoyed and insisted we go see them or take them out to dinner. Everything revolved around the girls.
Last year I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Ralph’s first words were that he was going to step down as Mayor and leave his job at Ocean Beach [Youth Group]. I said NO. If I die, you are left with nothing. He took me to doctor appointments with my kids and he helped me when I was so sick from the treatments. If I was down, he encouraged me. If I was feeling sorry for myself, he got me out of it. When we were picking out his gravesite, I collapsed in the cemetery and was crying on the ground. Dina came over and said, “Daddy said to get off the ground.” He probably did. Treatments were a very difficult time in our life but he was there for me. My scans have been good and we were looking toward the future. Little did we know that there wasn’t going to be a future.
Ralph had finally gotten to the point where he realized that his time as Mayor was coming to an end and he needed to prepare for his departure. He began putting younger people on the board with new ideas. Although some did not like that, he felt it was time to turn over the helm. He loved when they came out with new ideas that were commensurate with the times and felt that they would move Babylon forward. Little did he know that it would be so soon. When Don Conroy, his predecessor, died, his brother Jack gave his eulogy. At the end of his eulogy, he said that Don knew that Ralph should succeed him because he was the person for the job. He was exactly what Don would want in a mayor and he knew that he would love Babylon just the way he did. I questioned Jack later at the cemetery and asked him why he would do that when his brother had just died. I will never forget his words. He said, “My brother is dead. I am fulfilling his wishes by making sure that people respect Ralph and help him the way they did Don. I know that Babylon will be in good hands.” So, I am doing the same thing today. I am going to follow Jack’s example. Ralph loved Mary’s work ethic, new ideas, how she would fight with him, and her constant loyalty to him and Babylon Village. He wanted Mary to take over and move Babylon forward. I hope that everyone gives her the respect and help that she deserves because that’s what Ralph would want.
I am still shocked by his death and expect him to walk in the door with one of his goofy hats on. But I am blessed with a wonderful family who has supported me. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts and remember that one of the reasons that Babylon is such a wonderful place is because of a friend, colleague, husband, father and grandfather named Ralph Scordino.
Top: Late Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino at the 2019 Babylon Christmas Tree Lighting at Argyle Park (photo by the Village of Babylon)