Reflections on the life of 'Big John'


To the Editor:

A home-grown, well-respected, fine “gentleman farmer,” patriarch of a large and loving family, astute businessman, and “gentle giant” of a human being and citizen has left us for more peaceful pastures and smoother roads.

John Anthony Rambone Sr., passed away recently, leaving a legacy larger than (his) life. Many wonderful memories flood us when thinking of this “character” who had more character, in the truest sense of the word, than all the trappings of his trades combined.

While he might not have realized this of himself – or at least was too modest and humble to let it be known – many others DID know and respect that in him. As noted in his obituary, “he made an everlasting impact on all who were fortunate enough to have crossed his path.”

John was a unique, a one-of-a-kind, kind of guy, as special as the workday is long, a selfless, salt-of-the-earth, down-to-earth man’s man. Strong, confident, and always hard working, John was a “roll-up-your-sleeves-and-don’t-be-afraid-to-get-your-hands-dirty” man who led by example. Under his weathered exterior was a kind and tender man with a huge heart of pure Italian gold.

An impressive business man, he grew his enterprises as big and as strong as his awesome greenhouses using all the right tools at his disposal: honesty, fairness, and as little formality as possible; a firm, look-me-straight-in-the-eye hand shake would do nicely in most instances. His words (few as possible, of course) were his bond. My business and personal transactions and interactions with him will always be remembered as respectable and respectful, and he will always be respected and revered. His fairness, straightforwardness, and incredible integrity have indeed left an indelible impression on me and many others over the years.

Following a beautiful Mass in a filled-to-COVID-capacity church, I stood in awe and admiration as second and third generation Rambone brothers and others hoisted Big John’s casket on to their gleaming 1940s vintage stake body farm truck and tied him down for one final ride by the farm and on to his place of final rest. There they stood and toiled, in 90-degree weather, undoubtedly uncomfortable in their suits, ties, and dress shoes engaged in such a labor of love and tribute to their patriarch farmer, father, grandfather, and friend.

It struck me as a “changing of the guard” ceremony of sorts (albeit, Johnston farm-style) and crippled me with sweet emotions. And how very appropriate it is that the souvenir memorial cards depict Christ holding a little farm animal and that the verse refers to beautiful gardens. Such fond memories of a well-lived life of love, strength, and endurance now comfort, inspire, and console us.

And while I agree with Shakespeare that “we may not (exactly) see the likes of him again,” I do believe that his legacy and character will continue on through the example he has shown and the high bar he has set for his fine sons, John Jr., Timothy, and those following in their respective and collective footsteps. And I dare say that keeping up the good work that he started should assure continued success and satisfaction for years to come. God bless you, Big John, and may you enjoy much-deserved rest from your labors in the eternal peace of your heavenly reward.

Thomas P. Tatro


The author is the former business administrator of Burrillville Public Schools and currently a director with Berarducci Funeral & Cremation Services.


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