Hearts are broken in Riverhead as family and friends remember John Scorzelli, Jr., 46, who died in a tragic car accident on Sound Avenue Friday night.
Her husband, Scorzelli's wife, Maria, said, was a dedicated physician's assistant who worked at Brookhaven Hospital and Winthrop-University Hospital.
Remembering her husband's life, Scorzelli's voice was filled with emotion. "He loved the beach." That's why, she said, her family moved from Levittown to live in the Reeves Beach community in Riverhead and raise their two young sons, Odin, 9, and Honor, who will turn 8 next week.
The couple, who were married 14 years, celebrated their anniversary and Maria's birthday on September 11.
Living near Reeves Beach, Scorzelli said, was a perfect fit in a closely bonded community. "We love the beach," she said. "Campfires at sunset was our thing."
Her husband, Scorzelli said, loved working with patients. "He was very kind and compassionate, especially with the elderly."
An avid lacrosse fan, Scorzelli enjoyed teaching their son, Honor, to play the sport.
Sonia Montalbano, Maria's sister, said Scorzelli was a brother to her. "He was the best," she said. "He and Maria, the two of them worked to create an amazing home for their children."
Scorzelli, Montalbano said, took "meticulous care" of his lawn, loved his favorite slippers, and was known for hiding Dove chocolates for his wife.
Her brother-in-law opened his home to family and friends, Montalbano said, inviting all with his warmth and openness and his accomodating personality. Scorzelli, she said, was instantly liked by all who knew him.
"His life was about creating a home for their family," Montalbano said. "He loved being a father. He loved being a husband. It was important to him that he did that well. He set such a good example for them. He had such a calm energy. He was gentle -- and gracious."
A handyman, Scorzelli poured his heart into their family's home near the beach, Montalbano said. "Their family spent a lot of time at the beach. They would collect beach glass and bring it home, and put it in various containers around the house."
One year, Scorzelli built a beautiful wooden frame that held beach glass, to display on the mantel over the fire. "One of the first things they did when they bought the house was to put a fireplace in, so they could spend their evenings around it as a family," Montalbano said. "He loved being comfortable, and I think that extended to making the environment and those around him feel the same."
And, Montalbano remembered, "He was wickedly funny and clever. He was also diplomatic, and had a strong sense of self."
In all corners of his life, Montalbano said, Scorzelli's heart led with compassion. "He always talked about his patients from the human perspective," she said. "He would go out of his way to make sure they were treated with dignity."
From the time she first met him, at the funeral of their grandmother, Montalbano said she and her family knew Scorzelli was her sister's destiny. "She was so happy," she said. "They were peas in a pod. They didn't need a lot of other people because their family was such a great unit."
As a father, Montalbano said while Scorzelli was the disciplinarian, he found great joy in his two spirited boys. "He loved being a dad. It was so nice to watch."
From teaching Honor how to play lacrosse, to buying his boys their first fishing poles this past summer and taking them to fish at Reeves Beach, Scorzelli savored fatherhood, Montalbano said. "He set a great example for the boys, always," she said.
Her own husband Grant, Montalbano said, shared a close relationship with Scorzelli. "From the minute we met him, he just immediately became part of our family."
And from the beginning, she added, Scorzelli's deep love for his wife infused his days. "He had a lot of respect for her; he was inspired by her," she said. "He would say, 'You know your sister? She's just amazing.' They brought out the best in each other. John brought out the best in everyone he met."
Her voice filled with tears, Montalbano said since the tragedy, many have asked why God would take anyone so soon. "I think the answer is that it's not about that. Instead, we should say, 'Thank you, God, for letting someone so special be with us for as long as you did.'"
Services are scheduled for John Scorzelli, Jr., on Monday at the McLauglin Heppner Funeral Home on Marcy Avenue in Riverhead on Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held on Wednesday at 11 at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Riverhead, with a burial to follow at St. John's Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Scorzelli Children's Scholarship Fund. The fund will be set up at Citibank; details on how to donate will follow as they become available.