Rocco Giovanni Colafrancesco, 84, talented drummer who left some neighbors wishing they had thicker walls

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Rocco Giovanni Colafrancesco
Rocco Giovanni Colafrancesco

Rocco Giovanni Colafrancesco, 84, of Williamsburg, Va., passed away at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, after a three-month battle with pneumonia and other complications. Although he passed away in St. Petersburg, Fla., he was a resident of Williamsburg, Va., for over 35 years.

Rocco was born Oct. 10, 1932, on Smith Street in Providence, R.I., across the street from what would later become his alma mater. He was an avid drummer, playing in several bands with his cousin, Sammy Palumbo, and cohort, John Ricotilli, leaving many neighbors wishing they had thicker walls.

He graduated from La Salle Academy High School in 1950. After graduation, while attending Providence College, Rocco worked at his father’s bank, The County Loan, and was active in ROTC, earning a commission in the U.S. Army upon graduation in 1954.

It was at this time he met Patricia L. Dragon of North Providence, R.I., and knew his life would never be the same. After being sent overseas to Korea and Japan, Rocco returned to the states, and to the woman he knew would one day be his wife. He received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, and the couple tied the knot on Sept. 2, 1957. Ready to settle down, Rocco returned to banging the drums and his job at The County Loan. After the birth of their three children, Rocco was called upon to once again serve his country in the U.S. Army, and it was also the beginning of his 52-year adventure with Patricia.

From city to city, Rocco and our mom provided the best childhood any children could have. Our house was always full of fun and the center of activity for our friends. Our parents sacrificed much for us and always taught us the value of education. His orders took him around the world serving three combat tours of duty — one in Korea and two in Vietnam, with additional tours in Japan, Germany and France, where he was accompanied by his family.

Over his military career, Rocco was awarded numerous accolades, including two Bronze Stars, several Meritorious Service, two National Defense Service medals, Joint Service and Meritorious Unit Commendations, and eight Vietnam Service medals. Stateside, he was stationed in New York City and at the Army HQ for Transportation & Logistics in Virginia.

Rocco retired in 1981 as a colonel in the U.S. Army after serving 27 years active duty. He and Patricia loved Virginia so much, upon his retirement they decided to make it their home.

Rocco was a warm, generous person, who had a smile and a laugh for everyone…our father never met a stranger in his life. We will miss you, Dad.

Rocco was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Giovanni Colafrancesco; wife, Patricia; brothers, Sam and Joseph; and sister, Velia.

He is survived by his brothers, John (Tina) and Albert (Ann); sister, Marie; along with he and Patricia’s three children, Rocco Colafrancesco Jr. (Amy) and Karen Colafrancesco of Williamsburg, Va., and his youngest, Stephen Colafrancesco (Tracy) of Treasure Island, Fla.; granddaughters, Marialena and Holly; and grandsons, Stephen and Rocco III.

A wake will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 5, for Rocco Colafrancesco at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Road, Williamsburg. A Mass of the Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, March 6, at St. Bede Catholic Church on Ironbound Road. Friends are welcome to join us after Mass at Sal’s By Victor in the Williamsburg Shopping Center, 1242 Richmond Road, Williamsburg. Entombment will be in St. Bede’s Columbarium at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Bede Catholic Parish.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.nelsencares.com.