Jul 26, 2014
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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.

Community Pays Tribute To Romanelli

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

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