Don Paone was Malverne. In the more than 50 years he called the village home, he helped shaped its politics, raised his family here, attended church regularly and even wrote about Malverne in the local papers.
"I suspect every mayor Malverne has had since Fran Purcell knew my father," Paone's son Dave said of his father, who passed away Thursday a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday.
Paone was born in Haverhill, Mass. on Feb. 10, 1922, but spent most of his childhood in the mining town of Archbald, Penn. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Scranton in 1944, but was not able to attend his graduation ceremony because Uncle Sam called. His sister, Elvira, collected his diploma for him while he went off to boot camp for the U.S. Navy during WWII.
Lieutenant J.G. Paone served in Italy and North Africa before his time with the Navy was done. Then, he married Peggy Decker, of Brooklyn, in January 1949, and nine years later, the family, which at the time, included sons Donald and Kenny, and daughter Alene, moved to Malverne.
Paone's early life in Malverne was devoted to his family, attending church - - and working as an accountant. During this time, his wife gave birth to two more sons, Lawrence and David, but he still managed to find the time to earn his Master's degree from Fordham University in the Bronx.
"He just loved those Jesuits," said his son, Dave, who is a photographer and reporter for the Malverne-West Hempstead Patch.
Paone also took an interest in local politics. He is a founding member of the Taxpayers Party of Malverne, which was essentially the first alternative party in the village. Before it was created in the 1980's, candidates for mayor and trustee positions in Malverne typically ran unopposed. Paone also worked on several campaign committees for mayors and trustees, including that of now Deputy Mayor Joseph Hennessy, and he regularly attended village board meetings until his health failed a few years ago.
For several years, Paone also kept his fellow residents informed about what happened at these board meetings as a writer for "The Local News," a weekly newspaper in the village that is now defunct. He also shared his love of life in Malverne with outsiders as a contributor to Newsday's "Living In" column.
Since his wife, Peg, was a charter member of the Malverne Historical and Preservation Society and president for multiple terms, Paone also made time to attend the organization's functions regularly. The two were married for 60 years before Peg passed away in 2009.
"My parents had no desire to spend their retirement in Florida or anywhere else," Dave Paone told Patch. "They wanted to stay right here in Malverne. And they did."
Paone died on Jan. 19. He had suffered from Alzheimer's since 2007. A wake will be held on Jan. 26 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the and a funeral mass will take place on Jan. 27 at 9:45 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Malverne, where Paone had attended Mass every Sunday until this past November.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his name to the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation (www.liaf.org) or the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org).