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A Letter for Lenny
Thursday, 03 November 2011 13:29
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Everybody looks forward to getting mail, but in the Greenhaven neighborhood everybody also looked forward to seeing the man who carried it. Like a breath of fresh air, Lenny Braccio delivered our mail with a warm smile, rain or shine, nor’easter or flood. On foot, he always had time for a pleasant exchange. In his truck, he never failed to acknowledge passersby with a friendly wave.
Our neighborhood — adults, children, and pets — is in mourning for Lenny, who passed away October 3 at the age of 63.
“The Postal Service has lost one of its best carriers,” said former Rye Postmaster Sean Chia. “Lenny was dedicated to his job, serving for 36 years.”
Old timers remember Lenny, who had a soft spot for all animals, riding around in his mail truck with Zip, the post office rescue dog.
For Lenny, being a postman wasn’t merely about stamps, zip codes, and a speedy delivery. On the contrary, he loved our neck of the woods and embraced the families in it. Years ago, he always looked out for my small children playing outside and later on, he beamed by the mailbox when their college acceptance letters arrived. He played with our bichon in the front yard and sincerely commiserated with us when Mimi got sick.
One of our own, Lenny grew up in Port Chester and lived in Rye for 25 years before moving to New Fairfield, Connecticut eight years ago. Humble and unassuming, he didn’t let on that he was a Vietnam veteran or that he was the Rye Golf Club’s champion four years running.
“Lenny’s simple acts of kindness will be his legacy and forever imprinted in our memories,” said Greenhaven-Rye Association Secretary Nancy Pereira.” Her 3-year-old son Luke still cries out “lollipop, lollipop, lollipop” when he sees the mail truck.
You’d be hard pressed to find a resident who wasn’t touched by Lenny.
“Lenny’s passing is the end of an era,” said Susan Skaf. “His thoughtfulness made a difference in our lives, and added greatly to our spirit of community. He would always tell me with great excitement if a check had arrived for my charity in the day’s mail, as he knew how happy I would be.” Recalling the day Lenny spent the afternoon looking for her lost border collie, she said, “He was called the ‘Pied Piper of Greenhaven’ in our family. But it was dogs, not small children, that looked out for him and followed him around; Lenny handed out dog biscuits when he delivered mail.”
For the Kramer family’s little bichon, Lenny would painstakingly break the biscuit into bite-size pieces. “Who else would do that?” said mom Andrea. The Kramers considered Lenny a family friend, one who always asked about their children and shared a piece of himself. “He was especially proud of his beautiful granddaughter. He was the most gentle of men, and one who possessed an incredible generosity of spirit. Greenhaven won’t be the same without him.”
Fellow resident Anne Dooley reminisced, “When Lenny’s mail truck drove up the road toward our house and our two boys were young enough to light up for lollipops, they used to race outside to greet him. When they were in school, upon hearing the creak of the mailbox lid, I would open the front door and intercept him for a quick chat. He showed me a photo of his daughter’s wedding, and a few years later one of his baby granddaughter.” When Ms. Dooley’s now college-age sons saw Lenny last spring, he paused in his truck on the road, curious to hear news of their adventures.
When the neighborhood caught wind that Lenny was ill, Ms. Kramer asked a handful of friends if they wanted to contribute to a gift. Before she knew it, she was inundated with donations from the entire community.
Lenny’s wife, Janet, with whom I spoke on what would have been their 41st wedding anniversary, said, “He sat on the couch reading all the letters from everyone in Greenhaven with tears in his eyes. He loved the people he worked with and he loved the people he delivered to. It made my heart light to know how many people loved him.”
“The fabric of Greenhaven is woven from its stone walls and gracious homes, its majestic trees, the sparkling waters of the Sound, and from the comings and goings of the busy people who spend the days of their lives here,” offered Ms. Dooley. “It is also woven from the daily visits of a friendly and concerned mail carrier whose steps are still traced across our lawns and upon our memories.”
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Janet Braccio, daughter Laura and her husband Lowell Bernann, and 4 ?-year-old granddaughter Sarah.