OBITUARY

Louis Cozolino

March 23, 1932July 16, 2021
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Louis John Cozolino, Sr. went to the Lord peacefully on July 16, 2021 with family by his side and with grace and dignity. His long and full life of 89 years was filled completely with family, friends, purpose, and meaning, and he took every opportunity to connect, serve, love, and fight for what is right. Those who had the honor of connecting with Lou received the warm gift of humor, love, caring, and profound support. He was a man of conviction, strength, justice, and unwavering morality. His word was his bond and he would never take advantage of another’s need or weakness, but rather build them up and give selflessly to allow access to the blessings he built for himself and his family.

Little Louie Cozolino was born as the first child of three to John Cozolino and Constance (Connie) Cozolino in the Bronx, New York in 1932. Arriving on the heels of the economic crash and beginnings of the Great Depression, Lou was about to learn the survival skills of strength, hard work, resourcefulness, and leadership. Though barely first-generation immigrants, the Cozolino family had built a thriving business in the teens and 1920s in New York, but that was cut short by the market crash and depression. Scrambling to survive and carry on, John worked any and all jobs he could to support his family. Despite immense pressure and competition for work, John labored in any way he could to keep going, and he was able to persevere.

Following Lou into the household was brother, Johnny and sister, Alberta - making a beautiful trio of little Cozolino kids, and bringing light into the home and the neighborhood. Despite the economic struggles, 1930s and 1940s New York was in many ways an idyllic place to grow up and captured the spirit of America in a beautiful way. Entire families lived within a few blocks in the Bronx. They enjoyed playing stoop to stoop stickball in the streets, opening a johnny pump in the summer to beat the heat, homemade food from old world grandmothers, music, dancing, and vibrant social lives. Being broke did not mean poverty of soul; it was a rich and bountiful time in the important measures of wealth.

Louie was eager to both serve his country after WWII and explore the world outside of New York. Much too early, he snuck his way into the New York Guard Military Reserve without his parent’s knowledge, with an ill-fitting uniform much too big for him, undermining his attempt and retuning him to the ear-clutch of his mother in the Bronx. A couple years later, with the security of legal age status behind him, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He got through basic training and continued to advanced and extensive training, opting for ranger school, which included wilderness training in Austria. There he was trained in special skills and tactics, including high altitude and ski-based maneuvers, kayaking, wilderness survival, and similar activities, which would permanently satisfy any interest in recreational activities for him in the future. His service during the Korean Conflict included a temporary promotion to Sergeant First Class, charged with troop combat readiness by training pre-deployment for embarkation, readying enlisted officers en route to Korea. His advanced training charged him with the responsibility of hardening green soldiers for the challenges they were about to encounter. Years later, Lou recalled with tears in his eyes, the faces of the men that he prepared at that time, knowing that many made a one-way trip across the Pacific.

Lou was honorably discharged from the Army in 1953 and returned to New York, where he finished high school and, thanks to the GI Bill, studied architectural and mechanical design at the Manhattan Technical Institute and solar heating systems at New York University. Making modest ends meet during this time, Lou worked hard in any job he could, from the post office at Manhattan’s Grand Central Station to restaurant manager to doughnut maker to superintendent to automobile manufacturing factory worker. This early resume of difficult jobs, combined with the fact that they involved an on-foot commute uphill in both directions in the beating sun during blizzards, would provide adequate fodder to, much later, counter any complaining by his children about hard work or suffering.

By this time, his father had made his way into the plumbing union, despite barriers for those of Italian descent at the time. The union made access to work at survivable wages possible, and through some luck and much effort by his dad and others, Lou was able to get into the union also. This crack in the door of opportunity in the construction industry was all Lou needed, thanks to his intelligence, unstoppable work ethic, and ambition to transcend the financial lack from which he had come. Lou completed his apprenticeship, became a journeyman mechanic, was recognized for ownership and leadership, and was promoted to foreman, then was plucked from the field by his company, Hauxwell and Smith, to become project manager, after recognizing his capability and performance. In that role, he took on the management and delivery of complex projects in Greenwich, Connecticut, including the Greenwich Plaza office adjacent to the Metro North Train Station, the high school, and mechanical work in the town hall, leading, at a young age, nearly 200 personnel.

After chalking up numerous successful and profitable projects for a number of companies, the opportunity to take complete ownership of his efforts availed itself in 1978, when, despite barely having the means to do so and taking a huge financial gamble, he bet on himself and acquired the long established and well-respected Greenwich Plumbing and Heating Company. It was a good bet, and with ownership, his blood, sweat, and sacrifice could now be for himself, his family, and his employees. A fully union shop, GP and H grew to over 40 journeyman plumbers and many more apprentices and laborers, building elaborate projects including Greenwich, Norwalk, and Bridgeport, Connecticut hospitals, One Milbank Avenue complex, One Sound Shore Plaza and many more, as well as numerous ongoing accounts with large public and private properties and facilities. Lou’s success in his business created, more than anything, the ability to help others more with resources and influence.

Lou Cozolino created a legacy of service - to his country, to his family close or distant, to his community, to his friends, and in many ways to complete strangers in need. He was active in community service organizations including the Greenwich Lion’s Club, the Greenwich Public Housing Authority, apprenticeship development programs for people trying to enter the trades, and many other avenues. His deepest sense of service and dedication, beyond his family, was that to the military veteran community. While in Los Angeles, he became a tenacious advocate for military veterans, immersing himself in the organizations of the American Legion of Pacific Palisades, Post 283, where he rose to commander, lifetime member, and district level leadership, and at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and campus, where he served on the facilities advisory committee as veteran advocate at the California Home for Veterans residential facility, and the VA golf course, where you could find him fundraising, plumbing, mentoring, and feeding vets. He was unrelenting in steering all of these veteran's service organizations back to and squarely on their intended mission - to serve veterans. He rightly had zero tolerance for distraction of purpose, unnecessary bureaucracy, pessimism, selfishness, or any obstacle in the way of applying resources directly to the need. He was a laser beam of leadership and vision in the service of veterans.

Emblematic of this drive, and one of his proudest achievements and contributors to his legacy, is the championing and creation of the West Los Angeles Fisher House creation. No single person is more responsible for the feasibility and realization of this wonderful facility than Louis Cozolino. He would never say this, but it is true nonetheless. When Lou was commander of the American Legion Post 283 in Pacific Palisades, CA, he initiated and led the unprecedented donation of over $2 million of the post funds to make possible the creation of the Fisher House at the West Los Angeles VA campus, serving the regional medical center there. Fisher House is a "home away from home" where families of wounded, ill or injured veterans and service members - from all five branches of our armed forces - can stay at no cost while their loved ones receive treatment away from home. A long-term stay in a hospital, often thousands of miles from home, can lead to unmanageable burdens and significant expenses for family members needing to be a part of their loved one’s healing process. The foundation creates dignified, beautiful, and completely free on-campus accommodations to veterans receiving outpatient treatment as well as their families, eliminating a crucial barrier to access to families who do not live in the immediate vicinity of a VA medical facility. By eliminating this barrier, this saves lives. It also creates a respectful, comfortable, safe, and supportive environment for an otherwise difficult family and individual challenge. As part of his memorial, an honorary fundraiser has been established to further this legacy with the Fisher House Foundation, in recognition of the importance to Lou and his vision. Lou is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sharan, who was his dance partner, business partner, comedy partner, confidant, friend, and love. His beloved sister, Alberta, of Farmingville, New York, has been his little sis and dear loved one for his entire journey. He is predeceased by his younger brother, John Cozolino, or "Johnny Boy," who was his little bro growing up and partner in crime. Both Alberta and Johnny have wonderful families of their own whom Lou loved very much. Louis lives on in his four children and grandson, who carry on his memory and body in this world: Dr. Louis Cozolino, Jr., PhD of Westchester, California and his son, Samuel Bruno Cozolino; Dr. Clifford Cozolino of Pelham, New York; Kristine Kelly of Pacific Palisades, California; and Todd Cozolino of Hudsonville, Michigan.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 24, 2021 at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 3937 Wilson Ave. SW, Grandville, MI 49418, with visitation from 9-10 a.m. prior to Mass. In lieu of flowers, and in memory of Louis, memorial contributions may be made to the Fisher House Foundation: https://connect.fisherhouse.org/campaign/louis-j--cozolino--Sr--Remembered. The family welcomes memories and messages in their guest book online at www.cookcaresgrandville.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Saturday, July 24, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Saturday, July 24, 2021

Memories

Louis Cozolino

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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Extending support to active duty members from the American Legion, Los Angeles

FROM THE FAMILY

Giving back to troops - Los Angeles

FROM THE FAMILY

With the Fisher Family

FROM THE FAMILY

Floating in LA for the American Legion

FROM THE FAMILY

Parade in Pacific Palisades, California

FROM THE FAMILY

Dedication of the West LA Gisher House

FROM THE FAMILY

To the 9s

FROM THE FAMILY

Date night

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Extending support to active duty members from the American Legion, Los Angeles

FROM THE FAMILY

Giving back to troops - Los Angeles

FROM THE FAMILY

With the Fisher Family

FROM THE FAMILY

Floating in LA for the American Legion

FROM THE FAMILY

Parade in Pacific Palisades, California

FROM THE FAMILY

Dedication of the West LA Gisher House

FROM THE FAMILY

To the 9s

FROM THE FAMILY

Date night

FROM THE FAMILY