Today is the one-year anniversary of my stepfather’s death. I created the embedded slideshow for his memorial service last December. I have been too afraid to view it today. It’s true what they say: everyone grieves differently; there is no right way.

John was much more than JUST my mom’s second husband. When he married my mother, he also “married” her four daughters. We were 11, 12, 19, and 20 at the time. Not easy ages for a biological parent to handle let alone a step parent!

I grew to love him. He loved me. He loved us all. He took care of me and my sisters and treated my mother as she was always meant to be treated: with love, thoughtfulness, and care. I miss him. A lot. And think of him nearly every day.

The following is his obituary:

CUMBERLAND —John P. Fanelli Jr., 74, of Cumberland, Md., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, to be with God, after a brief illness.

Born Sept. 14, 1937, in Altoona, Pa., he was the son of the late John P. and Mary N. Fanelli, Sr. He was also preceded in death by his only sibling, Robert L. Fanelli.

Catholic by faith, John was a student and alter boy at St. Mary’s Grade School and graduated from Altoona Catholic High School in 1956. John received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in 1960. While studying, John worked as a road inspector for the State of Pennsylvania.  After graduation, John earned his first job as a high school science teacher. His next job as a chemist for Seagram’s Co. took him to Baltimore. He soon found his niche as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer later moving to Allegany County, Maryland in 1969 where he called on physicians and pharmacists for Merck as a drug representative until his retirement in 1999.

John enjoyed many hobbies during his life on earth. He was an amateur radio operator (HAM) and had friends across the globe. He often spent many early Sunday mornings contacting and speaking with other HAMs. His call sign was WA3WSW (W3JPF). As a HAM, he was a member of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club (MARC) in Cumberland, Md. and helped in emergencies and trained future HAM enthusiasts. John also enjoyed flying and was an active member of the Mexico Farms Experimental Aircraft Association (MFEAA) and the Cumberland Soaring Group (CSG). His passion to pilot his own plane became a reality in 1994 after building an Ultralite aircraft, making his first solo flight. John also enjoyed traveling across country in his Motorcoach RV with his wife Mary Kay. They traveled up and down the east coast from Maryland to Florida. Accompanying them over the years on their trips were their loving dogs, Cinnamon, Gus, Gabby, and Maddie. Maddie, a little Shitzu John and Mary Kay saved from the shelter in May 2011, died just a few weeks before John on November 26, 2011.

John is survived by his wife, Mary Caroline (Mary Kay). Also surviving are his two sons, John V. “John Victor”, of Gerradstown, W.Va., and James “Jimmy” R. and wife Maureen, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; his six daughters, Jeena M. Tyler and husband Richard, of Hagerstown, Joanna Murray and husband Glenn, of Roanoke, Va., Rebecca Tufano and husband Joseph, of Stewartstown, Pa., Caroline Reeves-Novotny, of New Market, Md., Paula Carrasquillo and husband Jorge, of Rockville, Md., and Rachael Reeves and long-time partner Mark Wigfield, of Frostburg, Md. He is also survived by his fifteen grandchildren, Connor, J.T., Elizabeth, Tim, Jessica, Mary, Claire, Paige, Fallon, Brian, Will, Andrew, Amanda, Anthony, and Armando and seven great-grandchildren.

John and Mary Kay would have celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary on December 29, 2011.

Children, Family, Friends, Health, Love, Peace, Spirituality, Uncategorized
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Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. Paula,
    ,My thoughts are with you…God Bless Marilyn UK


  2. Beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing his life and the love he had for all of you.


  3. As a stepparent, I can’t tell you what this posting meant to me. I hope I can be such a stepparent to my stepchildren. Thanks for showing me that we do matter.


    • You matter more than you can imagine, Kimberly!! My biological father is a HUGE part of my life and always has been. But my love for my father never diminished the love and respect I have for my stepfather. Your stepchildren will one day be able to demonstrate just how much you matter. You’ll see. XOXO


  4. That’s a beautiful tribute Paula. {{{hugs}}}


  5. Dear Paula,
    Each one of us who has touched another’s life so lovingly is an angel of eternal blessing. I’m so very healed and uplifted knowing that you had this beautiful connection with a man who was good and true for you, your sisters and your mother. Thank you for sharing his life with us and allowing us celebrate his goodness, grieve his passing from this form with you, and knowing his beautiful soul is always always loving you forever. Sending love to you on this very special day of transistion into the light,


  6. Paula, what a wonderful and beautiful family you are part of, sorry that you are experiencing this time of grief and no one can understand your grief, but you. I offer the best thoughts for you today.

    God bless you and your family


  7. Beautiful Paula, simply beautiful. I am sorry for your family’s loss. Great people are not forgotten easily.


  8. Great post Paula. I’m sure there are ways that Christmastime this year is tougher than last just because it has all had time to actually set in. Anyway, great read, and I’m really glad to see you four listed as daughters in the obit and not differentiated as stepdaughters. Seems more accurate to the way he felt about you and you about him.

    Take care.



    • Thanks, Bill. He always called us his daughters. He introduced us to his friends as his daughters. It was something we never questioned. 🙂


  9. Paula…what a wonderful tribute you give to this father! You have been so blessed to have him in your life!

    In memory to your step-dad, John…I say Wassail to his life and all he touched!


  10. what a gift you had in him, sorry you’re hurting today, and sorry you lossed him. xo


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