Blooms to Fill the Yard
This year the chrysanthemums have not been planted in front of Joseph L. Di Pilato's home. Each morning, Phyllis Buono looks out her window in Staten Island at Mr. Di Pilato's house across the street. She notices that the impatiens, their blooms past, are still there, and she remembers that Joe Di Palato, her friend, is gone.
Mr. Di Pilato, 57, was an electrician who for the past 22 years had done work for Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center. By avocation, though, he was a gardener. Each season he would put in new plants as if he were striving for year-round blooms.
"He set that yard up like it was a resort," Mrs. Buono said. "In the spring the flower pots would explode with blossoms."
Mr. Di Pilato's wife, Maria, met him when they were growing up in Little Italy but did not discover he was a gardener until they moved to Staten Island with their sons, Leo, now 32, and Joseph, now 31. "He didn't like the flowers I bought, so he started planting," she said. "He loved going out in the yard. His backyard had to be impeccable."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 10, 2001.