By 8:10 p.m. on Thursday, over an hour into the first session of visiting hours for John Romanelli, there was still very little parking to be found at home in Cutchogue. And the long, slow-moving line of people was mostly silent as they stood in the dark outside, waiting to say goodbye.
Romanelli, 47, was fuel oil company in Southold. leaving behind his wife, Heather, two grown children, Ethan and Tara — and a shocked community. they had gotten to know through his diligent and friendly service work as president of Burt's Reliable.
There was very little small talk at the wake, with pictures on display of a vibrant, smiling, well-respected community-minded man and his family, documenting his younger years through his days in Southold Town politics.
Romanelli has served two terms on the and ran unsuccessfully against Josh Horton in 2003. Horton, Commissioner Nick Deegan and , who works at Burt's Reliable, were among several well-known community members at Thursday night's wake.
One funeral home worker said he estimated that about 500 people had walked through the doors of Coster Heppner by 9 p.m., and that the line at one point had started yards away from the funeral home, winding into a residential neighborhood.
And lavish flower displays — many from local business people and fellow heating and cooling companies — were more than he had ever seen at the funeral home.
"We weren't even sure where to put them all," he said.
Friday visiting hours for John Romanelli are from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Coster Heppner Funeral Home.
Service will take place at , Saturday at 11 a.m. Interment is private.