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Frank Limoncelli, former manager of Globe classified advertising, dies at 87

Mr. Limoncelli also taught public speaking at Bunker Hill Community College.
Mr. Limoncelli also taught public speaking at Bunker Hill Community College.

Frank Limoncelli repeated certain phrases and words of wisdom so often that his family collected a few for his funeral card.

Among them was a 10-word ode to his wife of 61 years: “A day without Barbara is like a day without sunshine.”

For Mr. Limoncelli, there weren’t many cloudy days during a life in which his affection for his profession was only outdone by his love for his family.

“Don’t worry,” he’d tell his four children. “You have something nobody else has. You have me.”

Mr. Limoncelli, who spent his entire career with the Globe, rising to become manager of classified advertising, died in Lahey Hospital & Medical Center on Jan. 5, just 10 days after being diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. He was 87 and lived in Bedford.

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His career at the Globe began while he was at Northeastern University, working as a messenger during a student co-op stint.

After graduating, he landed a full-time job in classified advertising and was soon drafted into the Army. Returning to the department after his military service ended, Mr. Limoncelli remained at the Globe for the rest of his career.

“He absolutely loved working at the Globe,” his wife recalled. “There were times when there was a Monday holiday and he would say, ‘You know, I’d rather go to work.’ "

Mr. Limoncelli also picked up a part-time job as an adjunct professor at Bunker Hill Community College that lasted nearly as long as his more than 40-year tenure at the Globe, extending past when he retired as head of classified advertising.

Gregarious and comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, he took a few courses at Bunker Hill, including one in oral communications.

As he sat in the classroom, he later told his family, he thought to himself, “I could teach this class.”

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And so he did. Mr. Limoncelli applied for a teaching job and forgot about it as a couple of months passed. One day the phone rang with an offer to teach public speaking.

He took the adjunct position, teaching on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings until he retired from the Globe and had time to teach a couple more classes on weekdays.

Mr. Limoncelli loved doing that, too, his family said, and his affection for his jobs was such that his children didn’t realize not everyone shared that attitude.

“I was surprised when I got to be a teenager and found out that some parents didn’t like their jobs,” said his daughter Barbara L’Heureux of Burlington. “I don’t think he ever didn’t want to work. He was always happy to be there and he was very proud of it.”

The youngest of three siblings, Frank Michael Limoncelli was born in the North End in 1933, eight years to the day after his brother, John, was born.

Their father, Frank, was an Italian immigrant.

“He was an excellent carpenter,” Mr. Limoncelli’s wife said. “He was trained in Italy before he came over here.”

Mr. Limoncelli’s mother, Assunta Todesco, had learned to speak Italian from her immigrant parents, and lent her skills to the North End Union settlement house.

“She would help Italian immigrants write letters to local officials, deal with the American consulate, and conduct other business dealings,” Mr. Limoncelli told the Globe in an interview for his mother’s obituary in 1997.

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Mr. Limoncelli, who graduated from Christopher Columbus High School and received a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Northeastern, grew up close to his aunts and uncles and cousins in the North End.

He encouraged the next generation to form similar bonds, as he and his siblings traded off hosting Sunday gatherings.

“The thing he instilled in all of us is that there is nothing more important than family – your sisters and your brother are your best friends,” said his daughter Susan of Pittsburgh.

And in turn, Mr. Limoncelli’s three daughters and son knew he was the person to turn to, no matter the circumstances.

“My dad was my superhero,” his daughter Carol Shaughnessey of Pelham, N.H., said at a graveside service for her father, adding that “dad was always on my side and protected me fiercely.”

“He was the first person I would call with good news. He was the first person I would call with bad news. He was the first person I would call for advice,” his son, Frank Jr. of Woburn, said at the service.

“He was my dad, he was my best friend, and he was my consigliere,” he added. “There are no words that can express what my father meant to our family.”

Those who were outside of Mr. Limoncelli’s immediate and extended families turned to him as well. He was a longtime regular at the North Suburban YMCA in Woburn and a close friend to Al Magro, the longest-standing member.

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When Mr. Limoncelli’s friend Lou Rubino of Burlington sent news of his death to the 200 people on the e-mail list of regulars who call themselves the Y’s Guys and Y’s Gals, the responses were swift and heartfelt from many who considered Mr. Limoncelli a trusted friend.

“It just hit me, boy what a good guy he was. We’ll miss him so much,” Rubino said.

“I’m hurting,” he added. “I talked to him every single day during the pandemic.”

Mr. Limoncelli met Barbara Springer in Staten Island, N.Y., while he was completing Army training before being stationed in Germany.

A friend wanted Barbara to go with her to a dance, and she gave in, even though she hadn’t wanted to attend.

“And that’s where I met Frank,” she said in a telephone interview.

“He was very charming, he was very friendly,” she added. “After we met at the dance, he came over to my house. We went for a long walk and had coffee somewhere. We just talked for a long time.”

They married in 1959.

“All I want to say is that I always knew that he loved me. I never doubted it, all those years, and I always loved him,” she said through tears at the graveside service at Shawsheen Cemetery in Bedford.

“When you have extraordinary love, you have to experience extraordinary loss,” their daughter Susan said, “and we’re feeling that now.”

A funeral Mass has been said for Mr. Limoncelli, who in addition to his wife, three daughters, and son leaves his sister, Grace Rosselli of Stoneham, and eight grandchildren.

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Mr. Limoncelli’s close friendships spanned his entire life.

“Not a lot of men as they get older have these very deep friendships with other men,” his daughter Barbara said. “He had friends from his boyhood days in the North End. They came to his wake and funeral in tears.”

And until his final brief illness, he was an energetic grandfather, no matter how young his charges.

“He was 87-years-old and he would be running up and down the halls with them, playing hide-and-seek,” Barbara said.

“Somebody asked my sister not long ago, ‘What were his hobbies?’ His hobby was his family,” she added. “He took so much joy in being with us and being with our children.”


Bryan Marquard can be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.