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Community Pays Tribute To Romanelli

Burt's Reliable president John Romanelli, who died this week following a tragic accident, touched the lives of hundreds of Southold residents since moving to the North Fork 20 years ago.

John Romanelli’s caring philosophy in his business and in life can still be seen on Burt’s Reliable’s website: “We’ll take care of it.”

“If there is a problem, you can always speak with me,” he wrote on the site. “Though we are top-tier professionals, we are also your friends and neighbors. We recognize that every situation is different, and we are always willing to work with our customers.”

, Romanelli lived that philosophy in business and in life, according to many who knew him as a professional, a town board member, a neighbor and a friend.

Here are just a few remembrances of Romanelli, the backbone of Burt’s Reliable fuel company in Southold for over 20 years. Romanelli also served for years on the and ran unsuccessfully for Town Supervisor in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Heather, and two grown children, Ethan and Tara.

We welcome anyone else to share their thoughts as well in the comments section:

John was a rare public servant. At no time in his years of service did he ever think of the political ramifications of any action. He pursued what he honestly believed to be what was in the best interest of the community. He was charming, affable and sincere. Even when one would disagree with him on any given issue, it was impossible to ever be mad at him. He had a pure heart and one could fault his conclusions but could never, ever second-guess his motives.

When he ran for supervisor he did so because he believed in something. He had no real wish to be supervisor. He didn’t need the salary and certainly didn’t need the aggravation, he simply wanted to accomplish his preservation goals and saw the opportunity of serving as supervisor as allowing him the ability to implement his plan. In his political life, his personal life and his professional life, John was one and the same. With John, what you saw is what you got and what we got as a community was someone who cared very deeply and who brought love, passion and integrity to everything he did.

— Scott Russell, Southold Town Supervisor

My heart goes out to John's family, friends and to everyone at Burt's with deepest condolences. John was a terrific and personable guy, always in a good mood, and well respected in the business community. I am very sad. Our community has lost a wonderful individual and friend.

— Clayton Sauer, owner of the , Greenport

John was one of the first to welcome us into the Southold community a few short years ago. His knowledge, effort and friendship were invaluable while we opened the bakery. We will always be grateful. Our prayers go out to family and friends of this kind gentleman.

— Keith and Nancy Kouris, owners of the , Southold

I remember John fondly from Northside Elementary School. He was sweet, and kind and smart, and his mom always welcomed us to his beautiful home, after school. I have not seen him in years, since I moved out of state, but my heart is breaking for his loss. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

— Carolanne Kuntz Azan, childhood friend

John had a pioneer's spirit that was rich with compassion, kindness, guts and character. He had an open mind, an enormous heart and he saw the world through his own colorful lens; one through which he viewed challenges as opportunities to grow, the needs of others his own to take on and happiness as not something to strive for but rather a way of consistently being through good times and bad. I am proud to have served in public office with him but more importantly I am blessed to have had John as a friend.

— Josh Horton, former Southold Town Supervisor

To me, he was always a key figure in our party — he was welcoming to everybody. Everyone felt comfortable around him. He was a fun, likeable guy, and he always used to kid around with me that I was half nuts to take the chairman position.

— Denis Noncarrow, Chairman of the

My heart goes towards wishing peace and comfort for his family, friends and all who were touched by his kindness, generosity, humor and gigantic smile. I was just an acquaintance, a customer and the chatty neighbor to the , which he loved going to. I did not know him well and can only imagine the immense grief those of you who did are going through now.

Being around John just made you feel good. Only two weeks ago I had a surprisingly long and awesome conversation with John at a Christmas party. When we finished I said, "You know what? I reeeeeallly enjoyed talking to you,” and I did. It still sticks with me like a gift. He talked about his family with such affection and his kids being home for the holidays. I was so impressed with his love for his wife and children.

We met when he came in the middle of the night at 3 a.m. on my third day living in Greenport when my oil burner broke. I was frozen with three bathrobes on to keep warm, and John was so incredibly friendly, kind, funny and even enthusiastic at that hour. He told me of stories he knew about the old house I had just moved into and gave me a bunch of really helpful advice about many things. He would also call me personally to tease me when my bills fell behind and he always made me laugh.

John, you were a true gem to be around and I am so sorry you will not be here with us all who thought so much of you. My very sincere condolences to all those who loved him.

— Donna Gruber, Greenport resident

Catherine Argyros Crook January 05, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I remember sitting next to John at a Mattituck Chamber of Commerce Dinner meeting many years ago. I was a newbie to the Chamber and did not know anyone else at the table that evening. John introduced himself and began telling me one funny story after another and made me feel very welcome and included. My heart goes out to his family at this incredibly sad time. Catherine Crook
Claudia Ieraci January 05, 2012 at 02:33 AM
The Farmingdale Community is heartbroken to hear of John death.....He was ONE of the BEST guys I've ever known......Always had a smile on his face..... I am lucky to have known him and have such great memories of our high school times together. He will be missed terribly....My heart breaks for your wife, children and family RIP my dear friend......Claudia Ieraci
Lisa Finn January 05, 2012 at 03:37 AM
As a reporter covering the North Fork for the first time, John went out of his way to be helpful and kind.. Most of all, his smile lit up a room - -and his ever-present sense of humor brightened even the longest town board meetings. When I brought my then-too-young-to-leave-at-home son to the board meetings, John went out of his way to engage my son in conversation and joke with him. He was a man who was devoted to his family, committed to his constituents, and who believed with all his heart in the business he nurtured. I can't shake the sadness I feel at this horrible loss. My heart is broken for John's family and for the tragedy that never should have happened to such a fine man . . . .Lisa Finn
JOMAC January 05, 2012 at 01:41 PM
John's legacy to us, his Southold Family, is the enduring sense of good will that he imparted to one and all. Whether it was through his most contagious laughter, or his willingness to engage on a one to one basis, with everyone he met; he treated everyone with respect and dignity. We need more people like John. If everyone tried to be a little bit more like this great human being, we'd all be much better off. My heart goes out to his family. Godspeed John, and keep a close watch!
Alan Kahn January 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Generous, warm hearted, friendly, quick with a smile…it’s hard to find enough kind words to describe John. He was Prince Among Men and we’ll dearly miss him. Alan Kahn, owner North Fork Caretaker, Cutchogue
Bette Kerr January 05, 2012 at 03:16 PM
John was the epitome of a good and decent person, kind to all, especially helpful to those in in need. His infectious smile, radiance, and willingness to go that extra mile relieved the tension of many difficult situations. John's business attended to all our heating and plumbing needs, and John tended to us. His kindness just after my husband died is something I will never forget. Responding to heating problems, John's workers told me I needed a new furnace. Now. When I burst into more tears, mumbling: "I can't deal with this now." John himself came to my home to express hearffelt condolences and understanding. He promised to help me with heating decisions and with getting the job done smoothly. And he did. He came through for me in every situation, over many years. My thoughts and heart are with your family, John. Bette Kerr-Carrington Greenport

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