ST. AGATHA ALUMNUS
(Rockland County newspaper)
Engel seeks memorial to longtime letter carrier
A memorial for a Nanuet letter carrier, Tony Lombardi, who fought at Normandy and returned home to walk what he believed was 100,000 miles on his route, is one step closer to reality.
Word came Friday from Rep. Eliot Engel, whose district includes a large portion of Rockland, that he has submitted legislation in the House of Representatives to rename the Nanuet post office the "Anthony Lombardi Memorial Post Office."
"Mr. Lombardi was an exemplary citizen and New Yorker who served his country bravely during the Second World War," Engel says. "The recent dedication of the WWII Memorial on the National Mall was a reminder to all Americans of the sacrifice so many young men and women made for freedom."
Engel went on to say, "Renaming the Nanuet post office will honor Anthony Lombardi's life and serve as a remembrance of a man who served his nation proudly."
The legislation submitted Friday is just the first step in a process that could take a year or more.
The post office in Nanuet, Rockland County, NY,has been renamed for Anthony Lombardi. First suggested by former Nanuet resident Ed Walkley, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C.
Walkley shared his memories of Lombardi, the man who delivered mail in his neighborhood when he was growing up. Walkley also attended Nanuet High School, where Lombardi worked a second job for 22 years, eventually becoming head night custodian.
In a column here, Walkley recalled Lombardi in both those roles and shared memories of his acts of kindness to those on his postal route, from delivering groceries to the elderly during storms to handing out candy to local children he encountered along the way.
But all of that came after the stiffest tests of Lombardi's strength and compassion.
According to a book about the Army's 4th Infantry, Lombardi, who stood just 5 feet tall, may have been the smallest soldier to take part in the D-Day invasion. During his service, Lombardi was twice honored with the Bronze Star for bravery - once for volunteering to deliver food and ammunition to frontline troops engaging German forces and later for rescuing a wounded officer from the battlefield. [That officer later returned home and became a father. His son - Gary Hart - grew up to be a U.S. senator].
Lombardi returned home, too, married and had four children. His son, Tony, who lives in Pearl River, is a decorated veteran of Vietnam and is now Rockland's veterans burial commissioner, coordinating funerals at the county's two veterans cemeteries.
He was honored in February to hear that Walkley had suggested renaming the post office for his father.
He was overwhelmed Friday to hear of Engel's legislation.
"That's just outstanding," Lombardi says. "It's wonderful. I'm overjoyed."
Anthony Lombardi's widow, now retired to Florida, where two other sons, Joe and Paul, also live, was surprised and pleased. "I think he deserves it. He was a very good man," she says.
The Lombardis' daughter, Vicki, lives in Arizona.
Engel took an interest in Lombardi after reading here about his life of service, including helping the sisters at St. Agatha Home, where he grew up, and teaching religion at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Spring Valley.
In order to submit his bill, Engel had to get unanimous support from the entire state delegation. "That's not a problem when you're from a state with four congressmen," he says. "But when you have 29, like New York - Republicans and Democrats - it's an accomplishment."
With all 29 signed on, Engel now must find a sponsor for similar legislation in the Senate.
In the case of the Nyack post office, Engel and Sen. Charles Schumer collaborated to get the renaming approved. Engel says he'll approach Schumer to sponsor a bill for Lombardi. Schumer also became aware of Lombardi through this column.
"Anthony Lombardi always greeted everyone with a smile, a handshake and a hug and left a lifelong impression on all those who came in contact with him," Engel says, adding, "I look forward to the day when the Nanuet post office bears his name."
Walkley, who couldn't be reached yesterday, knew from childhood about Lombardi's acts of kindness, but only learned of his heroism after his death.
He wanted the honor for Lombardi, he said in February, because "Some of the people who come out of St. Agatha's don't get recognized, even though they are as much a part of the community as anyone."
Because Lombardi dedicated his life to helping others, Walkley says, he deserves not to be forgotten.
from Bill Lawson