Obituary for Wayne Keith DiDonna
Wayne Keith DiDonna, 66, of Albany, N.Y. passed away suddenly on January 4, 2017, surrounded by his family. He is the beloved son of and survived by his mother, Catherine "Kay" Walker, sister Lynne DiDonna-Lyons, niece Katelyn Ryan (Timothy), and nephew Thomas Lyons Jr, who all loved Wayne dearly.
He was the son of the late William DiDonna of Albany. Wayne was also close to his late Step-dad Frederick "Fritz" Walker of Albany, and loved his late Uncle John Hopkins of Albany.
Judith Comstock-DiDonna, his beloved wife and love of his life, passed away at age 25 of breast cancer.
Wayne was the grandson of the late Rocco and Rose DiDonna of Albany, and Sarah and John Hopkins of Albany. He was also very close to his late Uncle Emerson Hopkins, a train engineer for the New York Central Railroad.
Wayne worked as a master mechanic at the New York Central Railroad for 14 years, was in the National Guard Reserves, and then went on to be self employed as a Contractor and master carpenter. He could fix almost anything and took great pride in his work. He had wonderful woodworking skills and loved to work with his hands. He could draw perfect blueprints for designs of future projects and kept binders full the photos of all the projects at the homes where he worked.
Wayne had a great many friends he always stayed close to over the years from childhood. Dave, Marshall and Leo to name a few. He was a graduate of Colonie Central High School.
Wayne Keith DiDonna was very much loved by his family and friends alike and known as a good man, a wonderful, kind and generous human being, a great friend and "favorite person" cousin.
Wayne knew just about everyone it seemed and was a fantastic storyteller about his adventures with people, trips he took to see his friends, time he spent with people, projects he had going on, and his wonderful memories. He kept track of everyone, knew where they had worked, knew where people were living, and when someone passed away. He always tried to make it to everyone's services when they passed to pay his respects to the family and see old friends there too. He loved to go to the IBS Hall on Friday nights to get together with his old friends, talk, have a slice of pizza, and remember old times. They recently celebrated his birthday there with a cake from Sue.
He will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him far and wide.
Calling hours will be at Pine Grove Methodist Church 1580 Central Avenue Albany, N.Y. 12205, on Thursday, January 12th, 2017, from 3-4pm, in the MacIntyre Lounge in the church, use the side door near the rear of the Church, and a short memorial service will follow at 4pm. in the Sanctuary of the Church.
Life Story for Wayne Keith DiDonna
My first friend, best friend, and life long brother,
Colonie Village Elementary.
Afternoon recess. Two first graders running full speed ahead. Foreheads crash. The teacher has us sit down together. We catch our breaths, start to wipe away tears and hold goose eggs.
As we talk, he points through the schoolyard fence into his huge back yard, and tells me he lives in that big white house.
That afternoon, I met my first friend.
Playdates, birthday invites, building forts, squirt-gun battles, making plastic hot-rod models together, playing with his fantastic Lionel train setup, throwing apples at each other in the farmers field, hours playing eight ball on his pool table, his mom’s sandwiches, my mom’s sandwiches, trips to the corner store for massive amounts of candy, screaming at the top of our lungs in the ‘tunnel’, finding the perfect echo.
After dinner meeting up, more candy, sitting on top of the ‘tunnel’ like it was some special monument. Milkduds, dots, black crows, and Wayne’s favorite - red twizzlers.
We would take our bird’s eye view. We were on the lookout for hot rodders cruising Central Avenue out on the evening run.
Walking up and down Central Avenue, Wayne pumping his arm in the air to a passing trucker only to get a joyous, loud airhorn blast - ‘back at ya boy’.
Distracting Earl while we gleeped our first playboy.
First cigarette - back to the farmers field. First and last for both.
Our neighborhood paperboy who had the route forever was leaving to go off to college.
Wayne somehow talked the Times Union rep, Mr Riley, into splitting the large route in half and entrusting it to us. We were very young and in short time, we proved ourselves.
Rain, shine, snow storms, etc. Early morning hours, it was Wayne, I, and the Freddy Freihofer delivery man going house to house. We would all sometimes cross paths and Wayne and I would share those great sugar donuts or the bite-sized cupcakes.
Go home, get ready for school. Pocket full of quarters.
We were paperboys. We were flush.
Soap Box Derby
He entered the Soap Box Derby competition. The kit arrived, rules and regulations. He managed to build this on his own, with the exception of his wonderful Uncle John helping him along through instructions and a few mathematical solutions.
“He built the racer all on his own.”
The Capital District Event took place at Westgate Shopping Center. Lanes were marked off on the steep incline leading down to the end by JC Penny.
A beautiful Saturday morning, my dad and I went down to see the race. We found Wayne cued up with his place in line. We walked around and saw all the local ‘Zoinks’ with their dads and the bright, slick painted racers that looked like they were built in Detroit.
We waited down at the finish line near Wayne’s lane, number one. I assured my dad Wayne was going to win first place that day.
‘How far was Akron, Ohio?’ In case we had to see him race at the Nationals.
BANG. They were off.
Coming down lane one, I was never so proud of my friend more than on that day. As we howled and cheered him on, the race was quickly over.
We all didn’t go to Akron. We did have a ball the next few months pushing each other around the neighborhood until the brake wore out.
Pine Grove - 1st Dance.
Wayne had me so worked up. I showed up at his house all dressed and ready to go. It was about 4:30/5:00. I sat while he ate his dinner and waited for him to get ready. The dance started at 7.
We took our place amongst the wallflowers - it was a big night.
Not big enough for Wayne. By the time we went to the third dance, he had all of the moves and was doing splits.
Even got me off the wall and into the fun.
Lisha Kill Junior High
New horizon - the West Albany Faction.
Girls, guys - who are all these cool kids?
We mixed, we be-friended and in short time, I realized Wayne and I were not a duo act any longer. He was now everybody’s best friend.
This was the beginning of a large, solid group of loyal friends that celebrate to this day.
First quart of beer - Back to the farmers field, our new friend Billy Hamel joins us.
St. Clare’s Friday night dances.
Up the steps, through the doors, loud music - enter that handsome face, jet-black pompadour, cool shirt from Snappy’s, black pegged pants, Beatle boots - which Wayne referred to as ‘Pointzels’. One of his many obscure made up words.
In the dance hall only a moment and flocked by all of the gorgeous High School girls wanting to dance with him - A tornado of dance moves had arrived - more splits.
Colonie Central High School
Wayne’s math skills excellerated.
Five X 1 million pranks = 5 million laughs.
Nonstop. No one was safe from this level of wit and humor. Student or faculty.
He was the first into the cafeteria and would section off a dozen seats for the crew. Enjoying his two hot lunches, many stories, laughs - and back to classes.
Bullies - No Bullies.
In the era of real bullies, for a pipsqueak of a guy all through high school, I was never bullied.
Everybody knew I was Wayne’s guy and part of Wayne’s crew. ‘Hands off’.
55 Chevy Caper.
“You gotta start somewhere.” Wayne’s dream ride.
He buys an engineless 55 Chevy and we illegally tow it from West Albany to his house.
The classic 55 Chevy For Wayne, God created the heavens and the earth, and then the 55 Chevy.
We are instructed to push and hide it behind the garage.
“Don’t worry, my mom will never know it’s here.” Bartender.
Senior Year, the Friday, Saturday night takeovers of the Bridgeway, Guardsman, Villa Capri and any other place that didn’t have us all leave after ten minutes.
25 cent draft beers and 7 and 7s. I’ll have what they’re having - it’s called ‘Hilarity.’
Who’s the adult in the room? Don’t look at us - blame it on Wayne.
Working on the railroad, welcoming home all of those who were away serving on active duty. Quickly making sure you got back on the beat and up to speed. You were home.
It’s New Year’s Eve. Wayne and his Court Jesters are invited to a New Year’s party. He began that New Year with what he was always looking for, romance and love. That would be Judy. ‘The love of his life’.
They married, started their dreams, shared their happiness with all.
In short time, they would battle sickness and our heart broken friend would burry his beautiful wife.
Through much pain, he managed to get a smile back on his face and going again. Having BBQs and throwing his notorious annual Halloween party - all invited!
Always at the center of it all, it really wasn’t about him.
It was about you, us, them over there.
It was his calling. “Are you enjoying life as much as I am?”
He was a huge personality that made everyone else feel larger than life itself.
Deep humility, dignity, integrity, honesty to his core, with kindness and remarkable generosity.
Rather be giving than receiving any day of the week.
A hardworking problem solver, could fix anything, always there to help out.
The touch of his handy talents and carpentry skills are either in the houses we grew up in or the home you own today.
He was the crazy glue that managed to keep a very special group of friends together for five decades.
We listened to his great detailed stories that went on and on, making his experience become yours.
On and on, on and on, I could go on forever, we all could go on and write “The Book of Wayne” in multiple volumes.
Remember the time Wayne… “Hey,” Remember the time Wayne.
I remember a sweet little kid came down to Cottonwood Place, taking shy mama’s boy up Locust Park, turning the corner, I put my elbow out the window and had the privilege of being his shotgun rider into life, love, laughs and infinite adventures for a half century.
I say a prayer, a prayer Judy and Wayne are together in each other’s arms and their peace becomes our peace.