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Oct 22, 2013 3:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Mourns Death Of Michael L. Zarro

Oct 23, 2013 11:10 AM

The Hampton Bays community is mourning the loss of World War II veteran Michael L. Zarro, a lifelong hamlet resident and longtime firefighter who was dedicated to serving both his family and hometown.Mr. Zarro died at the Peconic Bay Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Riverhead on October 14. He was 87.

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Michael J. Zarro and Tony Zarro described their father as a well-respected, humble man and a jack-of-all-trades. They explained that he held all kinds of jobs, including moving pianos in Manhattan and building bulkheads in Southampton Town, to support his family.

“Nobody had a bad thing to say about him,” Lt. Zarro said.

“He would give you the shirt off his back,” added Tony Zarro. “In a nutshell, he was always a perfect gentlemen, always gracious, always humble.”

In 1948, the elder Mr. Zarro went to work for the Southampton Town Highway Department, where he would remain employed for the next 41 years. He loved the job, his family recalled, and served as deputy superintendent of highways under Thomas LaValle for 17 years before retiring in 1989.

During his tenure with the department, Mr. Zarro founded the Southampton Town employees union and served as its first president. “A lot of people were reluctant to join him because they thought he was going to be fired over it,” Lt. Zarro explained.

His father also served as a volunteer with the Hampton Bays Fire Department for 52 years. He was a past captain of the volunteer department’s fire police, and served as secretary of the Hampton Bays Fire District, treasurer of the South Fork Fire Police Association and financial secretary of the Hampton Bays Exempt Firemen’s Benevolent Association.

His family members said they wanted to express their gratitude to the fire department, as well as the East Quogue and the Southampton fire departments, for honoring Mr. Zarro with a firematic service last week.

A third generation resident of Hampton Bays, Mr. Zarro was born in 1926 in Southampton Hospital to Amato A. Zarro and Carmela E. Biancaniello. He was one of only 15 students to graduate in 1943 from Good Ground School, now the Hampton Bays High School.

He was drafted into the Army in 1944 when he was 18. His boot camp training was cut short by a few weeks when he was sent, along with a wave of American soldiers, to replace those who died during the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and early 1945, one of the deadliest battles of World War II. He was sent to Germany in 1945 and assigned to the Army’s 30th Infantry Division.

His son, Tony Zarro, explained that he remained in Europe until August 1945, when he returned to the United States to prepare for deployment to Japan. He was on a ship headed there when the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, drawing the war to a close. He returned home and was honorably discharged in August 1946.

The elder Mr. Zarro earned the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Belgian Fourragère, the Honorable Service Lapel Button and the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar.

“He was quite proud of his service and quite sure that what they did was right,” Tony Zarro said.

He also explained that his father, a member of the Hand-Aldrich American Legion Post 924 in Hampton Bays, spoke often about his war experiences, sharing all kinds of stories about combat and the Allied occupation of war-torn Germany after the war. Mr. Zarro was also a member of a group of Hampton Bays veterans who met monthly to share breakfast and swap stories of their service.

This past spring, Lt. Zarro accompanied his father on a trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., through the Long Island Honor Flight program, which organizes and sponsors the trips. “He was very happy to go see it,” Lt. Zarro said.

In 1954, Mr. Zarro married his sweetheart, Elizabeth “Betty” Lavinio of Southampton, who died in 2011.

Tony Zarro said the two were committed to each other, and always acted as a team. When his mother was ill during the last years of her life, he said his father cared for her up until the very end.

“He was just a really nice guy,” he said of his father. “He won people over with his kindness.”

The sons recalled climbing all over their father when he returned home from work, and they said they learned much from him, as there wasn’t a job he could not get done.

Mr. Zarro is survived by four children, Linda Dunckley and husband Mark, of Rocky Point; and Janet Zarro, Tony Zarro, and Michael J. Zarro and his fiancée, Maureen Stafford, all of Hampton Bays; and five grandchildren, Michelle and Stephen Dunckley, Nicole and Michael J. Zarro Jr., and Josh Karl.

A prayer service was held at the J. Ronald Scott Funeral Home in Hampton Bays on Wednesday, October 16, and followed by a full firematic service in front of the funeral home. Later that evening, the officers and members of the Hand-Aldrich American Legion Post 924 led a service. A funeral Mass followed on Thursday, October 17. Interment was at the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Cemetery in Southampton next to his wife.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org, or the Dominican Sisters Family Health Services, 103-6 West Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, NY 11946.

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RIP Mike!
By left eq (28), Southampton on Oct 22, 13 5:36 PM
A real fine man! May he rest in peace. He is now in heaven with my brother
Stan who knew him well,
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Oct 22, 13 10:50 PM
Mike always had a nice word to say about everyone. Rest in Peace, Mike.
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Oct 23, 13 11:06 AM