Michael J. Condello, 56, Carthage

CARTHAGE, NY —  Michael J. Condello, 56, died on March 19, 2022, at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown where he had been admitted the previous Sunday.

Mike, who was born on April 6, 1965 at Mercy Hospital in Watertown, was a proud son of Dominic Condello and Pearl George Condello. He attended Augustinian Academy through eighth grade and Carthage Central High School, graduating in 1983.

Mike was born into a family of grocers. His paternal grandparents, immigrants from the Calabria region of Italy, owned a grocery store on Canal Street in Carthage that specialized in grocery items imported from Italy.  After Mike’s parents married, his father opened his own grocery story on lower State Street around the corner from his parents’ store, and Mike and his family lived above their business.

When the predecessor to the Wilna Housing Authority acquired the Condello property (along with several other parcels, including the land where his grandparents’ store was) to build Long Falls Apartments, Mike’s family moved themselves and their store to the other side of State Street, this time “below the tracks” where the family operated Condello’s Superette for more than 50 years.

As his father and his Uncle Jim aged, Mike not only took over managing the family store, but lovingly cared for both his father and his uncle for many years.

After the Superette closed, Mike worked as a cabdriver for Yellow Cab in Watertown for about 10 years.  He loved the camaraderie of the other drivers, enjoyed talking with his fares and becoming friends with his “regulars” and learning every side street, back street, alley and dead-end street in Watertown and the communities that surround it. Mike retired from cabbing because of ill health.

Mike was a life-long resident of Carthage, and he enjoyed reading not only about the history of Carthage, but the books written by Carthaginians about the place; looking at old photographs of the Twin Villages; and reminiscing about what a vibrant business community Carthage once had.  Mike had close to an eidetic memory – as a child he would draw all sorts of vehicles that he had seen only once in perfect detail, right down to the license plate – and in later years that gift of recall made him an invaluable resource when you wanted to know a person’s name and to whom they were related and how.  A lot of that detail came out of the fact that just about everyone in Carthage at one time or another bought the sausage that Mike’s Uncle Jim made in the store, and Mike’s father and uncle made a point of knowing (and getting to know) everyone who came into buy it.  Those visits with customers provided Mike with a lot of detail about Carthage, and it seems that he catalogued much of it in his head, keeping it all organized until someone needed it.  Mike also enjoyed taking photographs and working with technology.  On reflection, Mike’s interests in both make sense:  both are, at least in part, about preserving information. That was important to Mike.

Mike was a man of strong likes and dislikes:  for instance, he definitely liked pasta and mushroom risotto and he definitely disliked the windmills on Tug Hill.  But when it came to people, Mike disliked no one.  Sure, he liked some better than others (people were like pasta sauces: basil pesto and olive oil with garlic are always good, but a nice red sauce is slightly better), but he didn’t dislike anyone.  It just wasn’t in him.

Mike is survived by cousins Jeannette Zimmer of Black River; Michele Sobkiewicz and Erik Sobkiewicz, both of Carthage; other maternal cousins; and Becky Snyder of Daytona, FL, his best friend of many years whom he talked to every day he was able without fail.  He is also survived by a brother.  Mike’s mom and dad predeceased him.

Mike was a communicant of St. James Church in Carthage, and a Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for him there on March 28, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Donald A. Robinson officiating.

Memorials in Mike’s memory may be made to Augustinian Academy or to the Wilna Champion Transportation Association, Inc.

To leave a condolence, go to www.bezanillafh.com.