In places like the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County, it’s extremely difficult to replace people like Russ Quarantello.
Yes, Quarantello, who passed away on Saturday, spent the bulk of his work career serving as a member, and eventually business manager, for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 237, but that doesn’t mean the full impact of his work related to union members alone.
In fact, Quarantello was a longtime and tireless supporter of several worthwhile community organizations, including the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the United Way of Greater Niagara where he served as a board member.
Organizations of this type often struggle to raise funds, coordinate events or draw adequate support from volunteers and community leaders.
In a community like the Falls, where the population decline has been matched only by the departure of corporate partners, the job of tending to the needs of community groups is often left to a select bunch of devoted helpers.
For the boys club and the medical center and the United Way, Quarantello was clearly one of those people who could be counted on to do his best to help in anyway he could, while also having the sort of connections that put in a good position to convince others to do the same.
“Russ’s biggest thing was to get involved in the community,” said Mark Grozio, who worked with Quarantello as a union member for more than 30 years. “His big idea for us as a union was us giving back to the community. He always wanted us as union members to give back and help the people that supported us.”
People helping people is a concept downtrodden communities like Niagara Falls must rely on just to get by, much less thrive.
Losing another community member with Quarantello’s mindset and commitment is, as Grozio described it, a “devastating” blow indeed.
Union members lost a strong advocate.
Local community groups lost a friend they could almost always count on.
In his life, Quarantello served as an example of how even a busy person with big responsibilities can find time to help not only family members and friends but strangers in need who are also neighbors.
In honor of his passing, others who knew him and admired his commitment would do well by him and the community he loved by devoting whatever time and energy they can to the many worthwhile community causes that exist in the City of Niagara Falls and surrounding communities across Niagara County.
There’s certainly never a lack of need for volunteers or support at three of his favorite places - the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, Niagara Falls Medical Center and the United Way of Greater Niagara.
Beyond those, there’s ample ways to follow the lead of Quarantello whose obituary described him in a way any of us should like to be remembered after we are gone:
“He had a deep love for his community and his country and was dedicated to his beliefs. He loved to make people laugh. He was the most kind, generous and honest man; as many can attest to.”
Rest in peace, Russ Quarantello, knowing that your reach extended well beyond the confines of your union hall.