Rocco "Rick" Joseph Sgrillo peacefully slipped away on June 18, 2019 at Lakeland Hospital after battling respiratory issues and a broken hip. His final days were spent surrounded by family.
Born March 24, 1921 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Rick was the second youngest son of 10 children of Giovanni (John) Giuseppe (Joseph) Sgrillo, a government city worker and Rachele (Famiglietti) Sgrillo, a homemaker and loving mother.
A WWII veteran, he fought bravely in many of the toughest battles in the Pacific including the bloody Battle of Santa Cruz, Tarawa, Saipan, Kishka Alaska, Mariana and Palau Island Campaign and the Battle of Midway. He served as an engineer water tender 2nd class and a gunner on the destroyer, USS Russell (DD-414) and the cruiser, USS Houston (CL-81). Rick survived 2 torpedo hits on his ship and helped to save lives by pulling men from a lower deck. He was hospitalized for stomach disorders and temporary hearing loss and blindness. Yet for all of this, Rick managed to maintain his fun, energetic personality and looked forward to starting a new life after the war.
Rick met his wife, Mary Bartone, at a local big band dance where he made quite an impression on her as a fabulous double lindy and jitterbug dancer. They were married and moved to San Diego, California with their first 2 children where Rick worked as a machinist on a classified project for the military. Eventually, Rick and Mary moved to Thomaston, Connecticut where they brought up 6 children in a beautiful rural environment. Early in his career, Rick owned his own gas station in Thomaston, Connecticut and later enjoyed his career as a real estate agent in Lakeland, Florida.
For over 50 years, Rick was an avid golfer and spent most of his leisure time at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course in Lakeland. He enjoyed spending time and joking around with his golf buddies and looked forward to playing cards at the club house. He loved watching sports on television, playing racquetball and spending time with his growing family.
Rocco "Rick" Joseph Sgrillo resided in Lakeland, Florida since 1971 and is survived by Mary, his wife of 72 years; daughter, Cindy, of Panama City Beach, FL; son, Rick, of Lakeland; daughter, Susan (Jess Anderson), of Lakeland; daughter, Christa (Jim Kantner) of Toledo, OH; daughter, Sandy, of Moshiem, TN; and son, Jeff, of Lakeland. Also, 3 grandchildren, Jarrod of Thornton, CO, Taylor of Gainesville, FL and Juliana of Lakeland.
A visitation will be held at the Lakeland Funeral Home, 2125 South Bartow Hwy, Lakeland, FL 33801 on Tuesday, June 25th at 10 a.m. with a funeral service at 11 a.m. Interment with Military Honors will follow in the Lakeland Memorial Gardens