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Joseph T. Lawless, longtime resident of Rockville Centre, dies at 90


Joseph T. Lawless, of Rockville Centre, and Stuart, FL, died on Jan. 2, 2021, at the age of 90.

He was the beloved husband of the late Marie (nee Love) and the loving and devoted father of Joseph, Kevin (Terese), Brian, Stephen (Karen), Marybeth (Hon. William) Croutier, Lorraine (Joseph) Cifarelli, Hon. Paul (Marianne), Carolann (Christopher) Dunn, Jennifer (Matthew) Solano and Michael (Jennifer). Lawless was the adored grandfather of 27 and great-grandfather of five, with one on the way.

Lawless was a proud member of the New York Police Department for 20 years and retired as a sergeant in 1977. He then opened his own successful car dealership, Joseph T. Lawless Auto in Baldwin on Grand Avenue. In 1998, Lawless fully retired and for the next 22 years he lived a long active life as an avid golfer, boater, fisherman, horse racing enthusiast, and ballroom dancer.

“His life embodied hard work, commitment and dedication to his to his family,” his daughter Lorraine Cifarelli said. “He lead through example.”

According to his children, Lawless was a tireless and loving caregiver to the love of his life, Marie, until she died in 2009, after a long illness.

When their mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Cifarelli said, her father became the sole caregiver. For 10 years, he took care of her as the disease progressed, but he didn’t just sit at home – he brought her out into the world, “took her everywhere,” and always made sure she was “well-groomed,” according to Cifarelli, who said his mother still looked put together from her hair to her clothes to her nails. “What really wowed me,” she said, “was his care and devotion to his wife.”

After Marie's passing, Lawless pursued his lifelong dream to travel the world and explore sights and cultures he had only read about. His children said that he touched the lives of more people than he ever realized with his stories of his time with the NYPD and his large and seemingly always growing family. His strong work ethic and loving example as a husband, father, and man of faith, will live on, they said.

Funeral Mass will be held at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre on Friday, Jan. 8, at 9:45 a.m. Interment will be at Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.