|Michael A. Valerio 1931-2020|
It is my sad duty to inform you that Michael A. Valerio, “Mike” to his friends, went home to heaven on Wednesday afternoon, September 2nd.
He was a faithful husband to Helen, loving father to Linda, Laura and Michael Jr. He was an Army veteran, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, a philanthropist and to me and many others, a very dear friend. He will be missed beyond measure, and the grief of those who knew and loved him is deep.
Mike was not a man who sought the spotlight, but behind the scenes he was a force of nature. After military service, he started a small pizza shop in 1953. With his wife Helen by his side every step of the way, they labored long hours, refused to go into debt and over the next three decades, turned a modest storefront in East Boston into over 200 stores, one of the largest restaurant chains in New England - Papa Gino’s of America.
Cooking remained a passion and past time for Mike long after his retirement as a restauranteur. He was often cooking when I called him, preparing a pasta dinner for Helen and himself. His love for his wife, children and family was demonstrated in ways small and large. If you met Mike and Helen in a social setting, you would have no hint of how successful they were. He carried himself with an unassuming humility, and yet he was one of the most generous men I’ve had the privilege of calling a friend.
He was also one of the hardest working people in America. I often awakened to find emails from him written at 2, 3 or 4 am about some idea he had and was anxious to talk to me about. I used to wonder when he slept. His energy was absolutely amazing, and reminds me of another outstanding leader on the scene today, President Donald J. Trump, who Mike deeply admired and vigorously defended.
I have known Mike and Helen for 37 years. He and his wife are the God parents of my youngest daughter. He was a member of my board of directors, and has been a significant donor since the day this organization was founded in 2009. He and I worked together on most of his major projects to help the country going back to the early 1980’s. I was a commentator on “Topic Religion” a radio program on the station he and Helen purchased in Boston in 1983.
We were allies and wide eyed idealists in Massachusetts politics who actually believed that we could take the state for conservative Republicans. We gave up on Massachusetts, but Mike never gave up on America. He was a courageous patriot who put his heart, soul, time, energy and money into helping save our country from the liberalism and progressivism which is now being exposed as socialism and communism.
Michael A. Valerio, was born in Italy, about 50 miles southeast of Rome. He was only five years old when he immigrated to the United States with his family, settling in the predominantly Italian East Boston. He grew to love America with a passion. When he achieved the capability, Mike expended tremendous effort and resources to preserve the nation he loved and the opportunities it gave him. He went from poor immigrant kid to prosperous businessman.
For those of us who knew him, the greatest parting gift we can offer is to remain vigilant and unrelenting in our quest to preserve America’s freedom, Judeo-Christian culture, economic and entrepreneurial vitality and faith in God. He wanted to make sure that the American people understand the threat posed by communism, in whatever guise it takes - progressivism, Marxism, socialism or fascism. To Mike, it all springs from the evil human inclination to rob others of freedom. To assure the future of our country, he spent his life trying to stamp out this ideological poison. Mike will not be here to vote on November 3, but had he been, he was going to strike a blow for freedom by casting his vote for Donald Trump.
This is my first opportunity to publicly express my love and gratitude to Mike and Helen for their years of faithful friendship and support. STAND is one of many nonprofit organizations to which they donated. However, whether we were working on a project together or just waiting to figure out the next move, he was my dearest friend.
Please pray for his wife Helen, their children, grandchildren, extended family and all of his friends as we grieve the departure of this great patriarch and patriot. He fought for this country to the very end, and he is already missed.
Rest In Peace Mike. Thank you for your service to our nation. We will use the memory of your dedication and sacrifice as yet another reason to fight on. We will not let you down. America will remain a shining city on a hill.
Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr.