Penny & Dano’s Wedding
Madison Beach Hotel
April 22, 2022
First of all, on this Earth Day, I’d like to thank Mother Nature for gracing us with a beautiful day by the waterside. The Whitaker family seems drawn to the water. When Hartford was a port city, my grandfather was the harbor master. Before our parents passed, our family vacations were spent together on the Rhode Island shore. Penny loves Bermuda and has lured many of us there to share her favorite beaches and restaurants. We’re accustomed to spending time on the shore with the people we love and today is another example of that. Thank you all for sharing the seashore with us today.
I’m fairly introverted. My favorite hobby is wandering around the woods with my dog.
Despite my preference for seclusion, I’m not unaccustomed to public speaking. During my corporate life, I was involved in preparing and making speeches. When my parents passed, I delivered teary eulogies.
That said, I’ve struggled with this particular assignment. It’s an immense challenge to write something worthy of these two wonderful people.
Of course, today’s event is very much different than corporate speak. It’s not a reflection at the close of a loved one’s life. It’s not an end, but a bright and promising beginning.
Today is an emotional launchpad into a galaxy of adventures that Dano and Penny will have together. This is a celebration of two extraordinary people.
Unlike the usual fate of Dano’s beloved Dallas Cowboys, we can be excited and confident about the success of this union because of Penny and Dano’s undeniable bound.
When I look around the room, I see many familiar faces and recall the countless memories we share.
For example, John Longo. In elementary school, he undermined my professional kickball aspirations by convincing me to shelve my promising career to, instead, chase girls around the playground.
Hannah, who drove all the way from Albany to Tolland during the pandemic shut down just to boost Caylee’s spirits.
My brother-in-law Gerry, who once wore a bright green Speedo on a beach in Bermuda. That vision still shakes me to this very day.
Rudy and Ceil Persico, my parent’s very best friends. They have been there with us during our best and most difficult of days. We love them dearly and cannot thank them enough for being here with us again today.
And then there’s Dano…
I’ve known Dano for several years now. I knew him B.P. — ‘Before Penny’.
Here’s some of what I have learned about Dano:
1) He has really poor taste in sports teams.
2) He watches an excessive amount of YouTube videos about of muscle cars and pimple popping.
3) He’s not keen on swimming.
4) He’s not keen on flying.
5) He could use a much, much bigger garage.
6) He doesn’t like to be cheered on during workouts. If you do cheer him, he will give you ‘that look’. You don’t want to see ‘that look’. Right, Myles?
I also know that Dano is a brave and courageous person. His career requires him to face the underbelly of society, but this difficult work has not jaded him. He is a very compassionate, understanding and loving man.
Personally, I’ve learned a great deal from Dano. We’ve had very different experiences in life and Dano’s perspective has enlightened and educated me. He is a valued mentor.
I’ve also witnessed Dano’s being a father. His love for Moya and Myles is undeniable. He’s also passed on ‘that look’ to Moya. I know because I’ve gotten ‘that look’ from her a few times myself.
Most of all, I’ve observed Dano’s relationship with Penny.
Now Penny is an amazing soul. Our parents may be passed, but their best qualities carry on within Penny. There’s no more generous person on Earth. If you need help, Penny will listen, provide guidance, give you a hug and, if need be, the very shirt off her back. She’s funny, thoughtful, hard-working, fiercely loyal and wicked smart. She’s a rare gem and we love her to the moon and back.
What I’ve observed is that Dano gets this. He respects and appreciates the person that Penny is. He lets Penny be Penny. He cares for her and has helped her blossom. He gives back to her some of what she gives to everyone around her. For this, I love Dano as well.
I’d like to extend my thanks to the entire Johnson family for welcoming Penny. She will move heaven and earth for anyone within her circle. You’ve gained not only an in-law, but an advocate. I also understand that Dano’s admirable characteristics aren’t just a miracle, but a product of a stellar upbringing by an extraordinary family. I respect what you have done to craft this fine man.
I’d like to close with one final thought: We’re sharing a lot of love today. Let’s all promise not to wait until weddings and funerals to do this. Don’t wait to tell someone how amazing they are or what they mean to you. We’re doing that today. Let’s do that every day and all the time.
Dano and Penny, may your life be blessed with all the good that you both put into the world. Love you guys.