A proud father. A proud military man. A caring friend. An incredible man.
These are just a few words used to describe White Lake Township native Antonio Morganelli, 45, who — after serving and surviving two tours in Iraq — died of a heart attack last week while he was stationed at Fort Drum in New York.
“There’s no way to put into words how truly wonderful he was. There are not words strong enough or powerful enough to describe him,” said Connie Weber, whose family has always been close friends with Morganelli.
“We recently reconnected via Facebook,” Weber said. “He contacted my mom and sister first, and then we started texting and chatting. His wife passed away a few years ago, and I’m divorced. And we’ve spent the last three months chatting. And just before the Fourth of July, he came to Michigan from New York for his sister, who was on life support.
“He surprised me at work. We spent every minute together during that time,” Weber said. “I never got a chance to tell him how truly wonderful he was. I never got the chance to tell him I love him. I miss him terribly. He leaves behind a legacy of good deeds, caring, kindness, and sweetness.”
According to Weber, Morganelli was very proud of his military career. He served 11 years in the U.S. Army and became a staff sergeant with the 7th Engineer Battalion.
He was hoping to be discharged next month in order to spend more time with his 16-year-old son, Joseph Antonio. Morganelli’s wife died in 2008, and he didn’t want his son to be left alone if he was deployed again.
“His greatest accomplishment and achievement was his son. His son was his world,” said Weber, who added that Morganelli was hoping to move back to White Lake, where he grew up.
“He’s a good man. He really cared about family and his friends. He’d give his shirt off his back for you. He was that kind of guy,” said life-long friend Gary Arquette. “We’ve been friends since we were 6-years-old in kindergarten at Oxbow. I have just so many memories with him when we were kids. We did a lot of things together growing up, and we kept in touch through the years. I will definitely miss him.”
Morganelli’s funeral was held on Saturday, July 9, at Elton Black and Son in Highland Township. He was honored with a full military burial.
“I just saw him not too long ago because his sister was on life support, and he had to make the decision on pulling the plug. And then a week later, he died. We were going through all of this with his sister, and now him. He just turned 45. It’s just shocking how life turns,” Arquette said.