Nick Ragone is an author, attorney and public relations executive in New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of the Eagleton Institute of Political Science at Rutgers University (undergraduate) and the Georgetown University Law Center.

He is the author of three books: Essential American Government, Everything American Government, and President's Most Wanted. Nick is a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business, the PIX11 Morning Show, and has a weekly appearance on the popular Raph Bailey Radio Show.  He co-anchored PIX11's five-hour live inauguration coverage with Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong.

Nick is a contributor to Donklephant.com, one of the most influential political blogs on the web, and  has written for US News & World Report, The Star-Ledger, Real Simple Magazine and RealSimple.com.  Nick has been quoted in over two dozen stories on politics, the presidency, and public relations.  In December of 2007, Nick was named one of PR Week's 40 under 40 to watch, and in May of 2008 was featured in "Profiles of Success", a book about public relations. Nick lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his wife and two children, and spends what little free time he has obsessing on the Mets.

Nick can also be found on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740817853




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« A musical tribute to dad | Main | Fox Business »

My Dad, My Hero

Last Monday my dad passed away at the age of 69.  He had been ill for some time, but the end came fairly quickly.  On Saturday I eulogized him, as did my brother, Mike.  Below is my eulogy. 


I want to thank everyone for coming today.  It's been a difficult few days, but we've been comforted by the love and prayers from our family and friends.  It's been remarkable to see how many lives my dad touched.  Marines. Singers. Golfers. Yankee fans. 

There are way too many stories, and way too many emotions, to capture in a eulogy.  But I hope to give you a window into the person we knew and loved.  And for me, worshipped. 

He was taken too soon, but he lived a full life.  He had the greatest partner in crime any man could ask for in my mom, his pootchie.  I've never seen two people more perfectly made for each other.

One of the happiest days of my life occurred about nine months into Tyan's first pregnancy.  We had been discussing names for about -- oh, nine months -- and couldn't seem to agree on anything.  I had insisted all along that I only had one name on my list -- Frank Ragone -- but Tyan didn't quite see it that way.  She was thinking more along the lines of a Chinese name -- maybe Ling Ming or Ming Ling -- and we were at a stalemate.  I figured this was a battle even I couldn't talk my way to victory, and I had resigned myself to welcoming little Kung Fu Panda into the world with a Chinese name, and I was fine with that.

Just days before giving birth, Tyan presented me with a little picture frame that I could use for work ... and engraved on the very bottom it said "Little Frankie."  It was a moment of pure joy because I so badly wanted to honor my father with his name.

My dad wasn't just a proud man -- he was intensely proud. He was proud of everything in his life: his wife, his children and grandchildren, his work, his appearance, his singing voice.  Heck, even his ethnicity.  He would report on the statistics of even the most obscure Italian baseball and football players.  Somewhere, Jimmy Cefalo and Louie Giammona should be smiling. 

It was the type of pride that the Marine Corp drills into you.  The type of pride that comes from having a mother that gave more love than the universe could hold, and siblings that idolized you.  The type fo pride that comes from having a family that cherised his values, learned his wisdom, and adored his sense of humor.

I only saw my dad cry once.  I'm sure he had shed tears on other occasions, but I never witnessed it.  The day before I began law school, we drove to Washington and moved me into my apartment.  We unpacked stuff all day, and he slept over on the couch.  When I woke up the next morning, he had made breakfast, laid out my cloths, and organized my books as though I was going to first grade or something.  Me being a professional slob, I found it all slightly amusing.  But it wasn't funny to him.  As he finished preparing my stuff and was ready to leave, he turned to me and started weeping ... unable to say a word.  Without uttering a sound he just walked out the door.  But that's all I needed to hear.  If my kids feel half the way about me that I felt about my dad, then I've exceeded my wildest expectations as a father. 

My dad wasn't an excessive talker.  He knew how to tell a great story, and has mastered the art of the one-liner, but you never heard him prattle on or wear out his welcome.  We absolutely loved it when he'd get off a particularly good one-liner -- usually in a tense or awkward situation -- and then wink, as if to say "don't try that yourself."  Of course, we would. 

One stands out from back in the day:  We were playing golf with a reputed wise guy -- someone who I think carried a small aresenal of uzis in his trunk.  Not that type of guy you wanted to upset.  Ironically, he had just had a lung removed from cancer, and it was his first round since his surgery.  I'm not sure how I got roped into playing, but my dad's only instructions were "don't win."  On the first hole, said wise-guy dribbled his tee-shot about 10 feet, at which point he let out a string of expletives that would make even Joe Pesci blush.  A hush fell over the tee box for about 30 seconds, only to be broken by my dad's voice: "did they remove half your brain with your lung."  At that point, I reached down to feel if I was wearing a diaper, because I was going to need one.  After what seemed like an eternity, our connected friend just cracked up laughing and said "you're right Frank, what am I upset about."  Alas, I wasn't going to be an orphan.

We got to see a different side of him as a grandfather.  My dad was a lot of things, but silly wasn't one of them.  He was funny -- very funny -- but never silly.  But as if by magic, when Rocco was born, he instantly became nothing but silly.  It's like a switch flipped on, and he got progressively sillier with the births of Frankie and Gabriella and Mona.  I could only imagine what Mike and I would have gotten away with if he was our papa. 

He was the oddest braggart I've ever known.  He loved bragging, just never about himself.  I think there are two types of fathers in this world:  those that compete with their children, and those that promote them.  He would hand out my books like they were his business card, or email his "constituents" every time I was on TV.  He was so very proud of Mike's career, and Laura's family, and Tommy's heart.  I can't begin to recite the number of times I've heard about our latest exploits from one of his friends.  And how proud he was of us.

He truly saw the depth of Tommy's caring over the final few months, and for that we are eternally grateful.  And there are no words of gratitude to express our appreciation to Billy and Tyan for loving him like their own.  We are forever indebted to them.

I wish I was old enough to see him sing.  He had such a beautiful baritone voice.  Whenever a song would come on the radio, he could always find his part and sing it perfectly in key - not an easy thing to do.  One of his favorite songs to sing with his various groups was Pennies from Heaven.  Thankfully, someone had the foresight to record one of their rehearsals back in the late 60s, and we still have it.  I just love listening to those harmonies, and I know he's singing about Pennies in Heaven now. 

My dad never spoke of regrets.  That just wasn't his style.  Not even at the end.  But I know he had a few.  I think he always wanted to be a lawyer ... but circumstances just wouldn't allow it.  He had such a logical, incisive mind.  He would have been a great trial lawyer.  You don't need to do the math to figure out why I went to law school.

And he missed out on knowing his father, who was killed during World War II.  All he could do was recite the stories to us that he had heard ... from Nanny, and Aunt Sadie, and Aunt Lulu, and others that knew him.  And though he loved Papa Pete dearly, it was a great unspoken void in his life.  And he missed him.

We take great comfort in knowing that he's with his father now.  Bragging about his children and grandchildren.  Explaining who Derek Jeter is.  Hustling pool and telling stories.  Convincing him that he's an 18 handicapper.  Showing him pictures of his wife.  Being a son.  Whole again with Nanny and his father.

Rest in Peace, Cheech.  

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Reader Comments (48)

Nick, I was so proud of you and Michael yesterday. I think it's safe to say daddy would've approved.

January 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterNick Ragone

What an amazing eulogy, Nick...our thoughts are with you and your family...

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermitch

You delivered this so poignantly on Saturday and to read it here just reinforces what I know already... he is smiling down on you and your entire family and is again the proudest father on earth. A wonderful tribute Nick.

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSL

Nick, I'm in tears - what a beautiful tribute to your dad. He sounds like a really special person.

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMargo

An amazing eulogy, Nick. I wish I could have visited you this weekend, but I know you know why I couldn't. My thoughts have been with you anyway. Be well, and I'll see you soon.

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercn

Wow, Nick...this was beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss.

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTory

Hi Nick,
I am a good friend of your brother, Tom. I just read your eulogy, it was just beautiful. Perfect! I know that your Dad is smiling down on you. I met him a few times over the years and your Dad always treated me like family. I wish I knew him better. God bless him and your family. I know how much you miss him.
My prayers are with you and all of the Ragones.
Linda Francese

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Francese

Beautiful job. Thanks for sharing. You have a good heart, Charlie Brown. No need to do the math on that either. And I'll enjoy watching you root on the Yanks this year.

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Hi Nick,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I have every confidence that you will have the same profound impact on your own children that your father had on you. As Chris and I are preparing to become parents, what you've shared about your father only reinforces how important family can be. What a tribute to a man you truly loved. Take care, Stacey

January 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey B

What a beautiful tribute! We will all miss your dad and ribbing him about the Sox and Yanks....our thoughts and prayers are with the whole family.

January 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEric T.

Nick, what a touching eulogy. For someone who never knew your dad, this really brought him to life for me. You seem like him in many ways.

January 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie P

Great Eulogy NIck. I am sure he read it. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

January 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDean Jaeger

Thank you everyone for your warm thoughts and kind words. It's been of great comfort to me and my family. I'm not sure if he would have enjoyed all the attention, but he would have appreciated it. Nick

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNick Ragone

This is a heart felt eulogy Nick. Your dad would be very proud of you once again. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I grew to know him because we E-mailed back and fourth until he got sick. He really loved his family. I wish I could have met him in person. Your eulogy brought tears to my eyes as did the e-mail I received from your family this morning learning of his passing. I will miss him dearly and remember him fondly. Esp he and I going back and fourth about the Yankees and the Red Sox, R.I.P Uncle T. Take are Nick.

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

Like father, like son. Thanks for sharing, Nick. Good thoughts to you and your family.

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Nick, was very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGur

I hope that if/when the time comes and I have to deliver my father's eulogy, I can do even half as well as you did. That was truly beautiful. My heart goes out to you and your family. God bless........tj (Ralph Bailey listener)

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterT.J. (bakocondors)

What a beautiful eulogy. I'm sure your father was listening as you read it. I can already tell you will have the impact on Frankie and Mona as your father had on you. My thoughts are with you and your family.
All the best,

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterallyson savage

Hello Nick,
My family sends its prayers to you and yours for the loss of your dad. When Laura told me of your loss, I remember your parents always greeting me so warmly whenever our paths crossed. God Bless. Henry

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Mallon

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