On December 30 2017 of Bridgeville, DE. Formerly of Berlin, NJ. Age 61 years. Beloved husband of Jennifer (nee O’Niell). Devoted father of Nikki McGonigal and her husband Joe, and Peter and his wife Erinne. Proud grandfather of Joey, Annie, Sean, and Peter. Dear brother of Danny and his wife Nina Benevento, Linda D’Angelo (the late Santo) and the late Maryanne Davis.
Petey lived and loved fiercely. He married Jenn in 1977, then traveled the country playing baseball and softball. He eventually settled into a career with Atlantic Electric and retired just five years ago. In that time he lived every day to its fullest...loving his wife, laughing with his grandchildren, and golfing with his friends. Pete was a humble and kind man, a proud father and loyal husband, a loving soul with a laugh that touched the hearts of many. He will be deeply missed, but his passion for life lives on in the hearts of all those that were lucky enough to know him.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing Friday evening 7:00-9:00PM and Saturday morning 9:00AM-10:00AM at the COSTANTINO FUNERAL HOME 231 W. WHITE HORSE PIKE BERLIN, NJ. Mass of Christian Burial 10:30AM at St. Simon Stock Parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church 178 W. White Horse Pike, Berlin, NJ 08009. Cremation and interment of ashes will take place privately. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the St. Vincent DePaul Society of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish 532 E. Stein Ave. Seaford, DE 19973 would be appreciated. For additional information or condolences: Costantinofh.com.
EULOGY BY NIKKI:
For a man that was as competitive as my father was, he also wore his heart on his sleeve. You would find tears quietly running down his cheeks while he was watching television commercials some days, so he would be completely overwhelmed with thanks for each and every one of you, for not only being here to celebrate his life today, but also for all the prayers and support you have offered my mom, me, and my brother this last week, and really the last few months.
My dad fought cancer hard. He was determined, as he would say “to make cancer history.” And by this, he meant to not only make his own cancer history and beat it himself, but also help make cancer history and help find a cure. And up until his last breath, he was still fighting that fight. In 2007, when doctors gave him a 50% chance of living five years, he said “I’ll beat that.” In 2016, when doctors gave him three days to live, he said to me “Niks, I’ll tell you when it’s time to start worrying about me. It’s not time.” And even just last week, he made sure, in typical Pete fashion, that he wasn’t going out without a fight, telling doctors “I am getting out of this bed.” And while many of you are here today because of his fight, (you were his nurses, you were his friends he met in treatment, you were his brothers and sisters fighting alongside him) dad wouldn’t want me to spend any more time discussing his fight. If you knew my dad, you know he never talked about being sick. If you didn’t know and you didn’t ask him, he never brought it up, and some people didn’t even know the battle he was waging. He always said there were people far sicker than he was, and those were the people that needed prayers. Instead, he’d want me to talk about all the life he squeezed into those first 51 years of life...and it was a lot.
Baseball and softball are such a huge part of my dad’s story. It was his first love. The humble man that he was though, he’d never tell you about it. It was always one of us telling people, bragging about him, and he’d just blush and shrug his shoulders. But ask him about my mom, and his eyes would light up. His love for her he could not hide. He danced with her even when there was no music playing. He sang to her every day. Their’s is a true love story, from the minute they met on a blind date. Ti volgio bene.
My dad was a proud man. Yes, he was proud of how hard he worked throughout his life to create such a beautiful life, but he was even prouder of his children and grandchildren. He jumped at the chance to talk about the career my brother has created for himself, showing pictures of his work to anyone he could. He loved taking little Petey to the driving range, so everyone could see his golf swing. He told stories about Joey’s guitar and hockey playing, Annie’s determination in gymnastics, and Sean’s ability to make everyone in a room laugh. Family was everything to my dad, and friends were a very close second.
A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth...and my dad was a very rich man. He loved telling stories of his wealth. His favorite nights were spent reminiscing of softball tournaments, wine making, overtime antics at the electric company, ice cream at seven bells, and winning push up competitions in the backyard.
Dad loved the simpler things in life...a beach chair and a blow up pool in the driveway, a good side bet, Motown music playing on old eight track, and a well made Tangerey and tonic.
Dad believed in the power of helping hands both literally and figuratively. Almost 30 years ago, in this very church, he started the Helping Hands program. If you needed help with repairs on your home, getting to appointments, shopping, anything...he would find you someone to help you. And if he couldn’t find someone, he’d do it himself. He was the only man I knew that could concrete your driveway, run your electric and side your house...without you ever needing to ask.
Dad became famous for his attention to detail. The way he wrapped electrical tape around wire nuts, the homemade ledger he kept for each of his bank accounts, and the way he vacuumed his driveway like no man I’ve ever seen will live on infamy.
While dad’s name is synonymous with South Jersey baseball, he is well known for other, more recent events. He is the Michael Phelps of the Senior Olympics at Heritage Shores, winning 3 gold medals in a single Olympic Games in bocci, pickle ball, and pool. In 2014, while going through chemo, he won the title of Most Improved Golfer and had his lowest handicap of his golf career, a 9. And he may be most known for one time, circa 2005, catching 32 dimes, off his elbow...balanced in a single stack.
For a man that wasn’t a big reader, my dad loved a good quote. Words became important to him. My words today could never capture his life, his love, and his laugh. He loved to laugh and his laugh was contagious. It touched your heart and his smile warmed your soul. If my dad could leave all of us with parting words, I think he’d share a piece he happened upon a few years ago with my mom. It is from Bonnie Mohr. She is an artist in the Midwest who somehow with never knowing my dad, seemed to write something that perfectly describes the way he lived his life, and how he would want us to continue his story.
Life is not a race - but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say “thank you”, “I love you”, and “great job” to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you’ve been given, it is not accidental - search for purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself - plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you’ve been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment.