Christmas was a favorite time of year for Nunzio Izzo.
The season of giving matched his proclivity for generosity. His own wants were simple -- he was a devoted regular at Dunkin' Donuts -- and he derived most satisfaction from providing for others.
"He always said, 'You've got to tip them,'" said Nunzio's longtime girlfriend, Dorothy Margolnick, 70, of East Meadow, about his visits to the donut shop.
Tipping was a frequent expression of his kindness. He would tip a gas station attendant for putting $25 worth of gas in Dorothy's car.
"Maybe generous to a fault," Dorothy said. "He was just a stand-up person."
They spent their last time together the evening of Dec. 15, a Saturday. Nunzio was over helping to wrap Christmas presents.
"He was wonderful with my grandchildren," said Dorothy, remembering how he would sit with her grandson on his lap and do his best to make it to the boy's soccer games.
Nunzio died less than a week shy of the couple's 24-year anniversary, killed when he was attacked by another person in Glen Cove. He was 56.
He met Dorothy Dec. 23, 1988, at a Christmas party in a New Hyde Park social club. She was a widow who had lost her husband to cancer. She kept in touch with Nunzio and they saw more of each other as time went on.
She was 14 years older than he, but that was never an issue. Dorothy's family embraced him. He would sing Christmas songs when the holiday arrived each year.
"He was so missed at Christmastime," she said. Nunzio had said he had a surprise for her. Dorothy believes it was a ring -- he had an affinity for jewelry, and had bought her one before but she lost it.
She would have liked to take his last name, but marriage wasn't something the pair felt was necessary. They had love. Nunzio had a mother and other family in Glen Cove he was devoted to and he was honest about his commitment to them.
"He never lied to me," Dorothy said.
Nunzio's absence will be difficult for his mother, said his brother-in-law, Anthony Bocchino.
"She's distraught," he said. "Not good. Now she'll be living by herself, no company."
She is staying with her daughter and Bocchino, and they will take her in if that's what she wants, Bocchino said.
He said the family is struggling to understand the reason behind Nunzio's sudden end.
"We ask why," he said. He described his wife's brother as a "regular guy" who liked music from the 1970's and '80's and enjoyed watching soccer, especially Italian teams.
Glen Cove City Councilman Nick DiLeo knew Nunzio since childhood.
"He had just arrived from Italy with his family, and I lived around the corner from his relatives who I was friends with, so naturally we made friends as well," said DiLeo.
Something was different about Nunzio, but it wasn't until the boys were older that DiLeo understood there were medical issues at play in his friend's life. Nunzio had epilepsy, a seizure-causing condition, and clubfoot, the most common congenital disorder of the legs.
"As we grew older I came to understand the real difference about Nunzio was the way that he lived his life with a sweet innocence and determination to not let any health issue or disability get in his way. He made the best out of every blessing the good Lord gave him and you never had the feeling that he felt sorry for himself because of his circumstance. He truly was a sweet spirit that always had a smile on his face and a pleasant greeting whenever he saw you," DiLeo said.
"He was a devoted son, brother, uncle and friend to those who knew him. I will miss him dearly and I pray the Lord provides his mother and family with the strength to get through this horrific tragedy which they are now faced with. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace."
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