Jeremiah Mahoney, a longtime friend of Joe Rizzo, told the mourners, “We’re all here because he wanted us to be together.”
There was standing room only at Rizzo’s memorial service at Bunnell’s First Baptist Church on March 12.
Rizzo, executive director of the Flagler Education Foundation, died suddenly on March 6 at age 47.
“His passion for helping the entire Flagler County community, but especially the students and teachers of Flagler Schools, seeped into his pores and was evident in everything he did,” the foundation said in a statement. press release of March 7 announcing the death of Rizzo.
A longtime Flagler County resident and former partner at the local Woody’s Bar-BQ, Rizzo was larger than life and knew everyone, friends and family said.
“If you knew Joe, then everyone you knew knew Joe,” said Donnie Palmer, another longtime friend. “Joe was a great friend. He was a great mentor… And he was very proud to be part of this community.
“As a friend, Joe was a confidant, someone you could share your thoughts with; a brother, someone you can argue with. But also, the most important thing for me, Joe was irreplaceable. I think we all feel that. There’s a black hole in Flagler County right now.
“Joe was an optimist. His life was a definite celebration. He saw the good in everyone.
Two musicians at the service sang “Seven Spanish Angels,” which was Rizzo’s only request for his memorial service, Pastor Danny Brown said.
“Joe was a visionary,” said his wife, Teresa. “He had a vision for his job and for his family. His vision for us was to always be there for each other no matter what.
“Joe was an optimist,” Teresa said. “His life has been a definite celebration. He saw the good in everyone.
“He was my best friend,” said Rizzo’s son, Joseph, who serves in the US Navy. “He was everyone’s friend. He was selfless.
Rizzo’s daughter Caroline, who attends Mars Hill University, the college Joe and Teresa also attended, said the school was a special place because it was where her parents fell in love.
“Please, please remember Joe’s memories,” Mahoney said. “Because that’s what we are. We are Joe’s memories.