Discenza Family
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JACKSONVILLE, FL.  Louis Discenza passed away peacefully at Southlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Jacksonville, FL, on November 9, 2011. He was born in Campobasso, Italy, in 1915, to Joseph and Nicoletta (DeStefano) Discenza, who brought him to Springfield, MA, the following year. He married Dorothy Leahey in 1940, and was a devoted and loving husband until her death in 2009. 

Louis left the Springfield, MA school system after junior high to caddy, work on a milk truck, and help out at his parents’ grocery store. Intellectually curious and a life-long learner, he taught himself electronics to ace the Navy’s certification exam; after he retired, he earned his GED and took up computers as a hobby.

In his early years, he worked for companies like Bosch, Arted’s, and Sickles, and co-owned a metalworking shop. He moved on to a lengthy career as a general contractor, having earned electrical, plumbing, and general contracting licenses. He worked on many projects at Westover Air Force Base, and then built homes, apartment buildings, banks, and other commercial buildings in Western Massachusetts.

Louis wore bib overalls his entire working life. On Saturdays he enlisted his children to work at job sites. He would tell them that they were learning what work was, so they would stay in school and never have to “work” for a living. He was proud that, despite his own lack of formal education, he achieved his goal of having all of his children earn college degrees.

He readily volunteered his talents and energy, working at St. Michael’s Cathedral and its schools, and helping friends and neighbors whenever he could. In his volunteer work at St. Michael’s, Louis would often bring a son to help change the oversized light bulbs in the chandeliers. He would climb a rickety, 16-foot homemade stepladder, carrying the new bulb in a bucket. After removing the burnt-out bulb, he would ceremoniously drop it to the nervous boy below, whose job it was to catch it. When asked what would have happened if a son had missed the catch, Louis replied, “No one ever did.”  His son Dan recalls, “Years later, it struck me that he could have carried the old bulb down in the bucket just as he carried the new one up.  But we would not have had the challenge, nor the terror, of the job.”  In time, he eliminated the bucket entirely, and had the boy toss him the new bulb.

An avid problem-solver, Louis helped family and friends with issues involving everything from cars to household plumbing and heating systems. He could diagnose knotty problems right over the phone, and could create clever solutions that increased efficiency and saved money.

Louis and Dorothy retired to Largo, FL, in 1978 and moved to Jacksonville, FL, in 1998. They spent their retirement years traveling, including tours of the US and Canada by motor home, and visits to Dorothy’s ancestral home in Ireland and to Louis’ birthplace.

He continued to work on projects well into retirement. “When Dad was 90, he decided to add vinyl siding to his house,” says his daughter Judy.  “He did it all by himself, working early every morning until it got too warm. When he needed someone to hold the other end, Mom always came out to help. The job turned out great. ‘You couldn't see any of the flaws from City Hall in Chicopee,’ as he would say.”

Louis is survived by his son, Joseph and his wife Anne, of VA; daughter, Judith, of FL; son, Daniel and his wife Diane, of MA; daughter, Christine, of CT; son, John, of MA; and by his sisters, Mary Jane Ballatore and Ann Chargin,  both of CA. He leaves nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In addition to his wife, Louis was predeceased by twin infant brothers, John and Michael; a toddler daughter, Mary Louise; another daughter, Christine, at birth; and by his brother, Michael, of West Springfield, MA. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Michael's Cathedral, on a date to be determined later.  Donations in Louis’ memory may be made to Haven Hospice at havenhospice.org, 4200 NW 90th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32606, or to St. Michael's Cathedral, 254 State St., Springfield, MA 01103. The family expresses gratitude to the staff of Southlake for their loving care of Louis since 2008.


JACKSONVILLE, FL.  Dorothy Frances (Leahey) Discenza, 91, passed away peacefully at Hadlow Center, Community Hospice of Northeast Florida on June 23, 2009.

"Dick," as she was known by all, was born in South Hadley, MA, to Henry and Frances (Ashe) Leahey.  She grew up in Holyoke with her sister Mary and brothers William and James.  She graduated from the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke in 1939, and served as a registered nurse at Providence Hospital.  She moved to Springfield, MA, where she met Louis Discenza, three years older to the day.  They were married May 6, 1940, and remained as loving husband and wife throughout their lives.  They worked together on many of Louis' business enterprises and raised their children in Springfield and Westfield, MA. 

They retired to Largo, FL, in 1978, and moved to Jacksonville in 1998 to be closer to family.  Dorothy and Louis delighted in their vacations and their retirement years touring the U.S. and Canada by motor home.  Her children were her greatest joy, and she treasured her time with family and lifelong friends.  She and Louis regularly joined their children and extended family to celebrate their common birthday in warmer climates, inspired by a 50th wedding anniversary family vacation in Bermuda.  While accomplished at bridge and other card games, it was her quick humor and good nature that won hearts.

Dorothy is survived by her husband, Louis Discenza of Jacksonville, Florida; son, Dr. Joseph Henry Discenza and his wife Anne, of Poquoson, VA; daughter, Judith Anne Discenza, of Jacksonville, FL; son, Daniel Louis Discenza and his wife Diane Brody, of Brookline, MA; daughter, Christine Discenza Franklin of West Hartford, CT;  and son, John Michael Discenza of Springfield, MA.  She leaves nine grandchildren:  Joseph, Gregg, and Leonard Discenza; Claire and Andrew Discenza; Connor, Paul, and Douglas Franklin; and Gabriella Discenza.  She also leaves five great-grandchildren, Elizabeth, Catherine, Daniel, Rebecca, and Michael Discenza.  Dorothy was predeceased by a toddler daughter, Mary Louise, and another daughter at childbirth.  She was also predeceased by her father Henry, her mother Frances, and her brother William. 

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, MA, at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 12, 2009.  The family suggests donations in her memory to The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, 34 Lower Westfield Rd. Suite 1, Holyoke, MA 01040, to Cathedral High School, 260 Surrey Road, Springfield, MA 01118, or to Community Hospice Foundation, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, Florida, 32257.

The family expresses their gratitude to the staff of Southlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for their loving care of Dorothy and their continued kindness and support for Louis, who misses his wife so much.


SPRINGFIELD, MA, Saturday Sep 8, 2012. The Discenza Family celebrated the life of Louis discenza at a memorial mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral, followed by gatherings at Red Rose and at John and Cat’s home in South Hadley.  More pictures in the albums: Remembering Louis and Louis Memorial Mass

Oh, and we played golf.  We won of course.  Judy’s Pix here.