Yo-yo, what's with that name?"
It wasn't a name that was thrust upon him. He made up the name
four years ago, two years after his third wife, Phyllis, died. He
said the funny name reminded him of his wife, who made him laugh.
In fact, he was notorious in his family for giving himself
nicknames. Another popular one, especially when he called his
daughter at work, was Harry Hoofendorfer. No one knew how and where
these names originated, but they always seemed to make people smile.
One friend who tried to guess the origin of Yo-yo asked him if he
named himself after cellist Yo-Yo Ma. But she was way off-base. He
just turned around and asked her: "Who's that?"
Yo-yo didn't consciously try to make people laugh. It came to him
But at the same time, he was also a private person. He was
diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August. Doctors gave him three to
six months. But he made the most of it.
Yo-yo was born in Philadelphia. His favorite color was blue and he
loved football and Notre Dame. He prided himself on being 100% Irish
and could even pull off an accent, most of the time. But then, he
also spoke in a Chinese accent when he felt like it.
He was never loud or boisterous. He would tell jokes with a
serious face so that it would take you a few seconds to realize that
Yo-yo was actually pulling your leg.
He was industrious when it came to jokes. He downloaded them off
the Internet and was often seen cutting and pasting the ones he
Yo-yo always wore a large earring on one ear. He liked the
attention it drew. Mostly, he wore a large, square off-white clip-on
earring. Sometimes, he had it on top of his ear and other times, on
the ear lobe.
He loved it when people who passed him did a double-take on him.
Or when one of his family members said he couldn't go out with them
wearing that earring in one ear. He loved that. It was him.
For most of his life, he worked as an insurance salesman. He had
five children and he worked hard to provide for them. But money was
never a big deal for Yo-yo. He was an easy-going guy who lived
comfortably and never wanted for anything.
He loved his children and grandchildren. When he won bingo, he
would bring back muffins or cookies for them. He took his family on
vacations. But he liked peace and quiet, and for all his jokes,
Yo-yo's life in his later years revolved around the senior center.
He was always in charge of lunch. Early in the morning he took the
food out of dry storage so they would be ready for home delivery.
Yo-yo then made sure lunch tickets were ready. He counted the plates
for the meals and set the plates and silverware on the tables. He'd
leave at about 1:30, right after lunch.
Yo-yo never really talked about his cancer while other seniors
discussed their ailments.
To him, life was just too short not to laugh at a joke.