There are some people that come into your life that have a profound impact. My good friend and partner, Tony Falzone, passed on July 16, 2017. Yesterday, there was a celebration of his life that was attended by hundreds of people. I was not alone in being impacted by this remarkable man. He truly was “one of a kind”.
I had the honor of being one of the speakers at the event. I wanted to share this so others could experience, maybe a small amount of Tony. I will miss you my friend!
Anthony “Tony” Falzone
February 13, 1933 – July 16, 2017
I first met Tony in 1980. I was a newbie staff at Price Waterhouse and assigned to one of his companies. The job was Smartees, Tony’s attempt to have a family restaurant to compete with Chuck-E-Cheese. I won’t get into the whole Smartee’s story, which is a story unto itself. I believe it was the first week, maybe even the first day and this brash 22 year old got into an argument with Tony. I was right, he was wrong or at least that’s how I saw it. As one could imagine, I was fired from that account by the end of the day. One of probably a dozen times that Tony fired me over the years. I really don’t know if I ended up being right or not, but, I was back on his accounts soon after that. We seemed to click. Perhaps it was that I was just like Tony, strong willed, opinionated, direct and an Alpha male or more likely, he just liked me.
Our relationship flourished over the years. Tony evolved to much more than a client, but, as a mentor, an advocate, a partner and perhaps my favorite, a friend.
Tony shared much with me over those years. I knew his finances, his businesses, his winners, and his losers. Throughout all this time, though, he was consistent with a few things. His love for his family and his friends. His desire to create things, to build them, to improve them. His need for financial and intellectual stimulation. He made things happen! Tony embraced life and made the most of every day.
He often shared with me what his family meant to him. His beautiful wife Mary Lou, with her vitality toward life, travel, and friends. A perfect match for Tony. His daughter Patty, with her reliability, her stability and dependability. She was his rock, always there for him. And Susie, with her ability to communicate, her successes at ProMedica, Ohio State and then Ohio Health, Tony was always so proud of her.
Over the years, Tony and I really didn’t talk much about Mary Ellen, his youngest, who passed away in 1978. He shared about how she fell ill and her death, but, that was about it. I rarely brought it up as did he.
As strong as our relationship was, though, it took a turn, about 6 years ago. For I joined a club, that Tony was a member for over 30 years at that time. A club that we didn’t want to belong, nor do we want anyone else to. That of losing a child. During the time that I lost my son, Tony and I talked often. It started slowly. Not all at once. Our conversations were emotional. They were raw. I felt that something buried deep inside of him was surfacing. The pain and hurt. The recognition that as someone that fixes things, makes things happen, delivers success, couldn’t have saved his innocent young girl. I felt that anguish that he carried.
But Tony was about living. And he turned that emotion to a passion. A passion to help others. To create Mary Ellen Falzone Diabetes Center on ProMedica’s campus, where those with diabetes could be served, that those young children, impacted, could be saved. His passion became a reality and now it is part of his legacy. I know that besides his family, this is the proudest thing he was ever involved with.
Tony was all about living. When we went out for dinner or drinks, he often raised his glass and offered me the Hebrew toast, L’chaim, to life. Tony often told me, today was to be a celebration, not some boring somber event. So I ask all of you, please lift up your glass and join me in a toast, to our dear friend, Tony, To Life, L’chaim!
Please consider a gift to the Mary Ellen Falzone Diabetes Center. It is making a remarkable difference in our community.