If you’re a long-time subscriber to my newsletter or if you follow me on Facebook, then you know all about the bond my dad and I shared. We were always close but became even closer after my mom passed away in 2000 (here’s her tribute page).
If you ever had the pleasure of meeting my dad, then you know what a character he was. He loved telling jokes, reading and writing poetry, gambling, horse racing and having a good time. I was fortunate to travel with him often and all over the world as you can see in the photo gallery below.
Here are some of our trip reports:
–Hawaii (Dec 2001)
–LAX to Fiji (2006)
–Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort (2006)
–Namale Fiji Resort (2006)
–Sydney, Australia (2006)
–Ischia, Italy With My Dad (July 2011)
–Rome, Italy with my Dad (July 2011)
–Seabourn Quest cruise (July 2011)
–South of France with my Dad (Aug 2011)
–Nantucket With The Boys (Aug 2011)
–My Dad’s 85th Birthday Celebration in Las Vegas (Nov 2013)
–Photos from Barcelona, Spain Before Windstar Cruise (May 2014)
–Ischia, Italy (May 2014)
–Love Boat Cast Reunites to Christen Regal Princess (Nov 2014)
–Del Mar Racetrack for My Dad’s Birthday (Dec 2014)
–Visiting Saratoga Springs, New York with my Dad (July 2015)
–How to do the Kentucky Derby Like a Champ (May 2016)
–Surprising My Dad in Florida (May 2021)
–My Dad Has COVID-19 … For the Third Time! (June 2022)
May dad bounced around during the last seven years of his life. He lived near me for a couple of years in Los Angeles, then he moved to Florida for a few years and then the pandemic hit and two years ago he moved back to his home state of Connecticut.
Before Covid, I used to visit him every three weeks and I recorded many of my surprise visits, which you can watch below. These all took place in Florida, either in the hospital, rehab center or in his senior home.
I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s been over a month and I’m still reaching for the phone when I wake up to call him. I miss him so much. Below is his obituary and my eulogy, which I read at his funeral.
Francis J. DiScala, Sr. Obituary
Known around the courts as “Broadway Frank”, he was the son of the late George and Antoinette (Iacono) DiScala of Ischia, Italy. A graduate of both Fairfield Prep and the first graduating class of Fairfield University (1951), he then attended Fordham University, earning a law degree and beginning his lifelong passion for trial law.
A champion of the people, he zealously advocated for the underdog. During his illustrious legal career, he founded the Norwalk law firm of DiScala and DiScala, served as President of the Norwalk/Wilton Bar Association, was a frequent presenter for the American Trial Lawyers Association, a national commentator for Court TV, and mentored many young lawyers who shared his passion. Frank supported women’s rights and proudly published a letter to the NY Times advocating for a national holiday for women. Aside from law, he loved art and music, was a jazz pianist, an avid poet, quoted Shakespeare – especially in courtrooms – and penned hundreds of poems in his lifetime. A favorite accomplishment was his rock opera titled Captain Freedom, written in protest of the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam war. He was an exceptional athlete, excelling as a high school defensive tackle.
What gave him the most pleasure was spending time with his family, either around the dinner table or vacationing in Sugarbush, VT or Watch Hill, RI.
Frank is predeceased by the love of his life, his wife of over 50 years, Jeanne (Hansen) DiScala. He is survived by his children, artist Georgette Diamandis and her husband Cameron of Rowayton, CT; Attorney Francis DiScala, Jr. of Westport, CT; artist Carol Calicchio of Delray Beach, FL; travel expert John E. DiScala and his wife Natalie of Manhattan Beach, CA; and 11 adoring grandchildren – Amanda, John, Madison, Morgan, Cameron, Dane, Theiss, Stella, Frankie, Jack and Olivia.
My name is John E. DiScala (aka Johnny Jet which my dad pretty much exclusively called me later in life). I’m the youngest of Frank’s four kids and my siblings and I want to thank you all for being here today. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to even walk up here to give my dad’s eulogy. I’ve been dreading this day since I was a little boy and no one, not even my dad, thought it would take this long.
So, we’re here today not to mourn but to celebrate and honor his long life. My dad once told me, “When I die, no one should cry because I will be very happy to be with your mother.” My mom died almost 23 years ago and Father Howell, who presided over her funeral in this very church quipped, “she was Saint Jeanne being married to Frank the Bank.” That was my dad’s nickname because he was always so generous. He would pick up almost every tab even though he didn’t always have the funds.
My dad wasn’t perfect, but he learned from his mistakes and there was never a doubt that he loved his kids and people in general which is why my heart is filled with immense gratitude for the countless memories and life lessons.
My dad lived to 94 so there’s so much to tell but not enough time – I’m on a strict time limit, right Father? Growing up, he always told us we could be whatever we wanted to be and then he’d say, “I still don’t know what I want to be.”
The most important lessons he taught us was to be kind, treat everyone with respect, don’t be shy, don’t break the law, stop to smell the roses and honk the blank out of your car horn if someone tries to cut you off.
I learned from an early age that my dad wasn’t like most parents. Many wouldn’t introduce their kids to friends and colleagues but my dad was always proud to show us off to everyone, from the janitor to the mayor.
On weekends, we would play bocce, a game of catch, watch horse racing, go to the YMCA and to dinner. He knew people everywhere we went and they loved him for his personality, jokes, movie star good looks, pink shirts, colorful sunglasses, generosity and his legal advice.
He was an incredible trial lawyer and my brother has tons of stories he could tell you, including the time he crawled around on his hands and knees during his closing argument, going from trash bin to trash bin of the prosecutor’s and court reporter’s, ignoring the Judge’s demand to stop. Just before the judge ordered the court marshals to grab him and hold him in contempt, he stood up, straightened his tie and said, “Excuse me your honor, I was just looking for the evidence in this case.”
A childhood friend called to pass on his condolences and told me, “I don’t know if you knew this but your dad was a hero to me. He really made my life so much easier because when I got into some serious legal trouble, he got me off because he knew I had learned my lesson.”
My friend also went on to say, “I know for a fact your dad was proud of you and I said, I know he was. He told me almost every day.” My friend said, “Well, neither of my dads (his real dad and his stepdad) have ever told me they were proud of me.” And that’s when I started to cry. That’s a tragedy.
My dad was my number fan and he told me often. Especially after I rolled the dice at the Craps table for 53 minutes in Vegas for his surprise 70th birthday party. One of the kindest things he said to me was he wrote a poem the day I was born and that he was so happy I really lived up to the expectations of it. Here it is:
A Son Is Born by Francis J. DiScala Sr.
“A child was born today
Good looking, of course, he’s my son
I asked what he expected at home
Dear Father, said he, I’ve been told,
by the man who sold my contract to you and mom
That if you but love me, give me love and love only,
I’ll grow to the size of your dreams
With hatred for none
Kind words for all
And love, above all, above all.”
My dad was a poet, a beautiful writer and he was so smart that before Google, he was my dictionary. He often read three books at a time and loved quoting Shakespeare. Just after graduating college when my mom was sick with cancer I would fly between LAX and JFK every other weekend for three years to see her and he would always pick me up and drop me off no matter the time. He would even walk me to the gate, wait with me, give me a bear hug, multiple kisses on the cheek, demand I take most of the cash in his pocket and say, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
I truly believe that if all fathers were like my dad, the world would be a much better place. Almost every day, my dad (and mom) would kiss me and my siblings good morning and goodnight and tell us they loved us. I’ve passed this tradition on to my kids and then some. I can only thank God for winning the parents lottery. I mean … it wasn’t the Powerball like my kids won but no doubt, I hit the parent jackpot and I’m so thankful.
Well Dad, unfortunately I can’t give you hugs or kisses any more, but I can tell you how thankful I am to have had you as my father. And you were right, parting is such sweet sorrow.