Rocco Blasi's daughter shared a video of him dancing, saying it tells you everything you need to know about her dad: he always enjoyed life.
"Everybody who met him truly loved him and he had an effect on everyone," Rosa Blasi said.
Rosa said her father was in great shape mentally and physically until he contracted COVID right before Thanksgiving and died Christmas Eve. He would have turned 88 on Monday.
"We are mostly in a place of gratitude that we got him for that long," she said.
Now, her family is looking back on her father's eventful life. She said he was a poor Italian immigrant who taught himself English, eventually becoming a college professor and author. He liked activities that kept his mind and body active.
"Whether he was a 3rd degree black belt in karate or spoke eight languages or a Fullbright scholar or an Eagle Scout leader," Rosa said.
Blasi and his wife, Joyce, raised their family in Mount Prospect and were looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in June. Joyce also had COVID, but was able to see her husband in the hospital before he died.
"The hospital was kind enough to let my mom in and that was the biggest gift ever," Rosa said.
In the meantime, the Blasi family is coping with the ups and downs of grief as they cherish the many memories they have together, thankful they heeded their patriarch's advice.
"Speak to the people in your family and your loved ones while they can hear you," Rosa recalled her father saying.