Michael Lombardo died peacefully at home on Thursday, June 4, 2015 with his loving family present. He was 93 and lived in Norfolk, VA for almost 65 years. He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy Ambra Lombardo on August 11, 2005. Also preceding him in death were his parents, brother Joseph Lombardo, and sister Benvenutta (Minnie) Timpa.
Born December 17, 1921 in New York City, Michael (named after his paternal grandfather) was the oldest of five children born to Frank and Concetta Lombardo who had emigrated earlier from Sicily, Italy. He graduated in 1939 from Benjamin Franklin High School, and in May 1940, Michael enlisted in the United States Navy.
In 1940, Michael became a member of the original crew of the destroyer USS Plunkett, DD-431 and within a few months was selected to work in the Fire Control division. Through diligent hard work and study, Michael was able to qualify for and pass the examinations for all the fire control ratings as soon as he had completed the required time in each rating. Within 5 years of joining the Navy, he advanced to the rating of Chief Petty Officer, Fire Controllman.
During World War II, the Plunkett took part in all the invasions of Europe: North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Northern and Southern France. Michael wrote: “By virtue of being a member of the Plunkett crew, I was awarded the following medals: The American Defense Medal; The American Campaign Medal; The European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; The Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; The World War II Medal; The National Defense Medal; Unit Commendation Medal; and, because I did not get into any trouble, The Good Conduct Medal.”
A duty that impressed Michael as a seaman on board the Plunkett was that of being at the ship’s helm and steering the ship. He later wrote: “Here I, a city boy who had never even been on a row boat, was steering this mighty warship.” Michael remained on board the Plunkett until she was decommissioned in 1946. Michael was then assigned to various duty stations in Washington, DC and the Tidewater area. He retired from the Navy after completing 20 years of service.
Michael grew up across the street from the love of his life, Dorothy. After he joined the Navy, they wrote to each other virtually every day. Their letters—which were kept even to this day—expressed their trust in God, their devotion to one another, and the hope they had for their future life together. On May 26, 1942, Michael and Dorothy were married in New York City. Over their 63 years together, they built a beautiful life and a loving home for family and friends.
Michael is survived by daughter Michele Andreana Lombardo Leonard and her husband Thomas E. Leonard of Portsmouth, VA; daughter Dorothy Michele Lombardo Self and her husband Robert L. Self of Smithfield, VA; grandchildren Christopher Self of San Francisco, CA; Thomas Leonard of Norfolk, VA; Michael Leonard and his wife Nicole of Hampton, VA; Becket Self of Baltimore, MD; great grandchildren Dylan Leonard and Jillian Leonard of Hampton, VA; brother Vincent Lombardo and his wife Wanda of Boynton Beach, FL; sister Rosalie Epperson and her husband Bob of Rochester, NY; and many nieces and nephews.
After retiring from the Navy, Michael attended William and Mary College in the evening while working as a civil servant. He later attended the Apprentice School at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Norfolk and was a member of the class of 1966. Michael worked as a Computer Specialist, Avionics Department, Naval Avionics Depot. On September 3, 1993, Michael retired after 50 years of federal service—20 U. S. Navy and 30 civil service.
Michael had a strong faith and trust in God, which he instilled in his family. In the late 1950’s the family joined St. Timothy Lutheran Church—a small but close-knit congregation at the time. Dad served on the church council and volunteered on various projects and activities with other men of the church.
He was also devoted to the organizations he joined. On August 19, 1948, Michael petitioned the Naval Masonic Lodge No. 4, District of Columbia. Initiated on September 16, 1948, Michael was raised to Master Mason on December 16, 1948. In December 2008, Michael was recognized for 60 years as a Mason by his brethren at Kempsville Masonic Lodge No. 196 where he had served as Worshipful Master in 1974.
Michael was a charter member and past Worthy Patron of Kempsville Chapter 173 Order of the Eastern Star. For many years, he was on the guardian council of the International Order of Jobs Daughters, Kempsville Bethel 42, and served for a time as Associate Guardian. Although Michael had no sons, his love and concern for the youth extended to the young men of Kempsville Chapter Order of DeMolay and he served as Chapter Dad and Advisor. He was invested with the Honorary Legion of Honor in 1983 and the DeMolay Cross of Honor in 1992. He was a member of Willis V. Fentress Lodge No. 296, Virginia Beach; Khedive Shriners, Chesapeake; Scottish Rite of Freemasonry; Knights of Mecca of Khedive Temple.
Michael was a member of Branch 5, Fleet Reserve Association and served as president. He was a member of the USS Plunkett Association; Tin Can Sailors National Association of Destroyer Veterans; Fleet Reserve Association; and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. During 1997/98, he was a Jr. Achievement Consultant volunteer.
Michael truly lived the philosophy—“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing, therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
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A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 1051 Kempsville Rd, Norfolk, VA 23502. Interment will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory be made to St. Timothy Lutheran Church. Also, the family expresses its appreciation to Dr. Melissa A. Fischesser and the other doctors, nurses, and staff of Sentara Leigh, Sentara Obici, and Sentara Hospice for their thoughtful and loving care.
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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
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