In the winter 1966-67, I met my life’s best friend. I was told by the regular mail carrier Tony Butch, when you get to DiCesare’s Market, Elmer DiCesare will make you a sandwich and a cup of coffee and you can get warm.

Elmer even made me stay longer one day as I had frostbite on my face. I took his advice.

In 1971, Elmer really stepped up! After 10 years of trying, my wife gave birth to our second son, but he came two months early and had a birth defect. He was rushed to RBC in Cleveland with no chance to make it. He did and for five months we went every other day to visit. He came home a week and then back for a second case of pneumonia and eight times more.

Over the next four years, we made the trip every 7-10 days for treatment. When I say Elmer “stepped up,” for two-plus years because money went for gas and $35 treatments, we had nothing left for anything. Elmer carried us on the butcher-brown paper for two-plus years. I was only able to pay him twice a year with my Christmas overtime check and our income tax return in May. He also let me cut the grass and make small repairs around the store and a small rental house nearby.

Elmer paid me in cash and then I bought some things for cash, exchange hand-to-hand. I got a part/full-time job from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. driving cab and slept between calls. He gave me his and Theresa’s second car when he bought a new one, rather than trade it in. After two-plus years, I was able to pay cash between the cab job and overtime at the post office.

For 10 years, I never stepped in any other grocery store until we moved to Florida on Dr. Tibbs’ advice. Our son wouldn’t make it in the cold. Also, Jim Richards, our Bunker Hill and Main Texaco, carried me two weeks at a time for gas needed. Over the next 40 years, we’ve stayed in contact. Our vacations back home, I spent most of my time at the store with Elmer.

In 2013, I had heart surgery and problems and was laid up for almost five months. Would you believe that Elmer and Theresa sent us $500, a gift to help us?

Elmer and Theresa were both colorblind! Theresa’s students from Station Street School will testify and the families that were carried on the butcher-brown paper from week to week and didn’t go hungry, like me.

I pray those alive and their children will acknowledge this special man, Elmer DiCesare, and his wife, Theresa, in some respectable and kind way.

From a broken and grateful heart.

Richard “Dick” Laszlo

Palm Bay, Fla.

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