With heavy hearts we share that Emanuel Michael Luongo, 72, of West Chester, PA passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 6, 2021, surrounded by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law at Paoli Hospital. Manny, as everyone knew him, will be remembered for his generous spirit and the big smile that always beamed under his trademark mustache.
Born to the late Michael and Ann Luongo, née Lanza on August 4, 1949 in West Orange, NJ, he was proud of his Italian roots and large, loving family. As a young boy he rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers and stayed loyal when they uprooted to Los Angeles. Manny proudly began working for his father and uncles at the age of thirteen at Luongo Brothers Paper Company. His younger brother Michael (Sharon) Luongo recounts Manny’s uncanny ability to get away with anything despite a six-year age gap when they were growing up.
At Our Lady of the Valley High School, he was a proud lineman and long snapper on the football team. Teammates called him “Superman” as he was not only a great athlete but a true team player, reflected by his enthusiasm for some of the most unglamorous positions on the field. Starting then and through the rest of his life, he was the guy with such a convincing poker face that when he joked around you could never be quite sure whether to laugh or intervene.
After high school he spent a year at Stevens College in Massachusetts, where he focused more on his part time job and playing pranks than on his studies. He knew that he was meant to be back in West Orange working in the family business. Eventually he began Hackensack Paper Company and through a series of bold decisions built a long and fulfilling career in recycling and waste management. When challenges arose along the way, he always forged ahead, saying “It’s a sin” and laughing them off.
Shortly after returning to New Jersey, he reconnected with Nancy Shaffer, a girl whom he’d known for years as his cousin’s best friend. Their first date was an evening filled with music in New York City. Soon after they began a 46-year marriage filled with love and devotion as they celebrated and struggled together through life’s ups and downs with one daughter, Christina Luongo (Adam) Kamins along for the ride. Through his actions, Christina learned to be kind, to find humor in everyday life, and to be unapologetically true to herself.
In 1990, Manny and Nancy decided to move to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for its tranquility and stayed there for nearly three decades. Manny continued to work in New Jersey, enduring two and a half hours in the car each day without complaint. Outside of work he found joy in being near the water whether in Aruba, Southern California, Maine, or his own backyard pool; savoring the traditional seven fishes on Christmas Eve surrounded by his entire family; making picks at the horse track in Saratoga Springs; rooting for the New York Giants on football Sundays; and being a loving dog owner.
A couple years ago, Manny and Nancy moved again, this time to West Chester, PA, just five minutes from his grandchildren. Being their “Poppy,” enthusiastically cheering his grandson Wesley on at Little League and hockey games, seeing his granddaughter Zoe dance on stage, and buying Girl Scout Cookies at her booths gave him great joy and purpose.
In his final weeks, Manny’s poker face never disappeared. He struggled quietly, subtly saying goodbye to loved ones and even telling Christina “I’ve had a good run.” We can all smile knowing the final time Manny watched a World Series champion be crowned, it was his beloved Dodgers, a fitting sendoff to a lifelong fan.
The memorial service and internment will be private per his wishes. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to one of the organizations close to Manny’s heart:
East Side Little League https://eastsidell.sportsengine-prelive.com/donate
Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines https://www.ryerssfarm.org/how-to-help
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html?sc_icid=header-btn-donate-now
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. of West Chester, PA 610-696-1181; www.DellaFH.com.