about my father, joe agoglia

My father, Joe Agoglia, was born in Brooklyn, NY to the parents of Joseph and Margaret Agoglia. His grandparents, Rocco and Rose who were both from Italy, were immigrants to the United States. Having little money, they saved everything they worked for in order to place a mortgage down on a building which would later become a garage that housed vehicles overnight. I was told that my great grandmother worked as a seamstress in a factory for several years and was paid a mere two cents to hand sew a pair of sleeves. It was during the depression that the need to store one's car in a secure place overnight was in high demand because car and gasoline theft were quite common during that time. Therefore, my great grandparents purchased a large building to store automobiles off of McKinley Avenue in Brooklyn. He would actually sleep overnight in the garage just to ensure that the cars weren't broken into. At full capacity, I've been told that the garage could house up to sixty cars. Over the years, the parking garage was turned into a full, auto-maintenance shop.

The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk upright enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. - Isaiah 57:1-2

My great grandparents had two sons, Joseph and Anthony. As youngsters, they watched their father (my great grandfather) work on cars, and they picked up the skills of a mechanic which allowed them to work on and maintain automobiles. Later on, they took over the business and grew it into a large auto-maintenance operation. My grandfather oversaw the administrative side of things, including all the mechanics, and his brother, Anthony, worked as the head mechanic. They ran the family business for over 65 years.

Born April 10, 1946, my father, Joe Agoglia, was born. He had a younger sister, Rosemary, whom he loved very much. Although financially things were not always easy, they never lacked in knowing how much they were loved by their parents and grand-parents. Values such as family, respect, loyalty, perseverance, a strong work ethic, and a deep love for one another were modeled. My dad and his sister learned perhaps the most valuable lesson in life: that family would always be the nexus of everything they did. Nothing mattered more than having close loved ones around who supported and watched out for one another, even through very difficult times.

After high school, my dad enrolled in St. John's University and embarked on a pre-med track. However, it wasn't until he had to sit in his first surgery that my dad quickly changed his mind. Realizing the medical profession wasn't for him, he changed his major to economics.

It was also at St. Johns that my father met my mother. On many occasions, my father shared with me that it was during his first week of college that he saw my mother walking across the campus. He said, "that upon first seeing her, she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen on campus." He shared with me that upon first glance, he knew she was the one he would marry.

A few weeks before my dad graduated, his mother passed away of heart failure, a tragedy that would always stay close to his heart. Being that he was the first family member to graduate from a university, I know this made his graduation even more bitter sweet. He loved his mother very much. I've heard many stories about how special she was to so many. Prior to my father's passing, he shared with us (his three sons) that he was saddened we never got the opportunity to meet our grandmother. However, we believe the day will come when we will have that opportunity.

In 1968, my parents got married and two years later they had their first born, Justin (that's me). Four years later, my brother Kristian was born and, then two years later, my brother Tad came into this world. My parents moved to Long Island shortly after they got married and have lived here every since.

It was my parent's desire to live the American dream - to buy a home, raise a family, and a hopefully have a flourishing career. Being the entrepreneur that my father was, he was a man who sought new business opportunities. And he did just that. From working for the government to running his own companies, it was my father's business standards and practices that gained him much regard within the business community both in the states and across the globe. But I believe it was his integrity that gained him the greatest respect by people from all walks of life - from global dignitaries, monarchies, top CEOs, military generals, to very ordinary people.

As a son I would say that the most defining moment in my father's life was when he came to know Jesus Christ. His faith became very important to him and the more he grew closer to his Lord, the more it impacted every area of his life. Many of his values and priorities changed and some of the things that meant a lot to him were no longer that important. As a result, his time and energies began to shift to things that had different meaning for him, especially things that had eternal value.

Besides his family, he began reaching out to various ministries. There is one, in particular, that was very dear to his heart - the Brownsville Bible Mission, Brooklyn, NY. This ministry took care of over 300 African American boys under the leadership of the late Reverend Russell Warren. Most of these boys had no fathers and many had no parents. In fact, several of them had no place to call home. Reverand Warner took in many of these children as his own and raised them in a godly environment. Providing food, clothing, and shelter, these young boys got off the streets (and some came right out of gangs) and came to learn about Jesus.

Growing up, almost every Friday evening we hosted about 15 of these young youths. Some were as young as 5 years of age while others were in their teens. My dad would order plenty of pizzas and drinks and the boys would spend the evening with us. We would play basketball in the driveway and play games in our living room. Whatever we did, it was like having 15 other siblings around every Friday evening. This was a normal weekend for me as a youngster and a good part of my teenage years. Many of the boys came to see my father as their own dad. Let me share with you a personal story which demonstrates his impact.

About six months after my father passed away, I received a knock on our front door. I opened the door and immediately I recognized the face. Now in his late thirties, he was one of the boys who came with Reverend Warren most Friday evenings. My first response was, "Jonathon (name changed), so good to see you." He quickly retorted, "Is it true?" Referring to the death of my father, I knew exactly what he was asking. He didn't have to elaborate on his question. I shared with him that it was. As he came in, we just embraced one another and with tears in his eyes, he began to share how my father impacted him over the past 20+ years.

He shared with me that he heard about my father's illness while he was in the hospital, yet he failed to come and visit him because he was involved with some things that he knew he shouldn't have been doing. He said, "You're dad was like my father. I looked up to him so much and respected everything he taught me over the years. But I was too ashamed to go and see him because my life wasn't right. I just thought I had more time to get things right before I went to see him. Now, I realize I was wrong."

I responded by telling him that it was ok and that my father loved him very much. I knew I could speak on behalf of my father because I knew his heart for people, especially those who didn't have a father or mother. As we embraced, I could see the tears stream down his face. His tears were honest and real, but his outward response brought to my mind the enormous impact my father had on this man's life. Ironically, I don't even think my father ever realized the numerous amount of lives he touched. He just loved people as they were.

This story is just one of many I hear each week. Although my father spent over 37 years in the corporate world and his impact was large, I truly believe his greatest mark was just being with people, one on one. His ability to listen to people's lives and accept them with no prejudices was a gift God had given him. He used both humor and his sincere love for people to capture the hearts of others.

There's so much more to say about my father. This one page doesn't come close to the life he led. But if I had one image to define my father's life it would be a heart. Although he used his mind to lead his own life, he used his heart to lead others.

When some die, unfortunately, their mark stops there. But in my father's case, the ink is still wet because his legacy is still being written.

- Justin Agoglia (a very grateful son)