QUEENS — His last wish was to help others.
Frank Esposito, a Forest Hills electrician, who passed away in 2013, left a large chunk of his money to several institutions he believed would fulfill his intentions.
The North Forest Park Library on Metropolitan Avenue, where Esposito was a frequent visitor, and Our Lady of Mercy on Kessel Street, which he attended for more than four decades, got $50,000 each, according to his widow, Lisa Wong-Esposito, 57.
He gave the same amount to Catholic Relief Services, a humanitarian agency that provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries.
“He was a kind man, a beautiful soul,” Wong-Esposito said.
Wong-Esposito said that her husband, who was born in 1942, moved to Forest Hills from East New York in 1969.
Thanks to decades of hard work, he was able to save some money, she said.
Before landing a job as an electrician at the city's Board of Education, Esposito served as a combat engineer for 13 months in Vietnam.
When her husband returned from the war in 1971, he worked days and went to the City College of New York at nights, earning his college degree four years later, Wong-Esposito said.
He later became a supervisor, and at the end of his 37-year career, he was in charge of 300 people who worked at more than 1,000 schools all over the city.
Esposito met his wife in 1994. They sat next to each other watching “Evita” at Queens College’s performing arts center. They started chatting during intermission. A week later they went out for dinner to the Family Restaurant, a recently closed eatery on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.
They were inseparable since, said Wong-Esposito, who works as a waitress at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manhattan.
They loved reading books together and often went bird watching in Forest Park and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
“He was not only my husband, he was my best friend,” Wong-Esposito said.
In Feb. 2013, Esposito “came down with a cough that didn’t go away,” she said.
He was later diagnosed with mesothelioma, and died in December that year, Wong-Esposito said.
She is still mourning the loss of her husband, she said.
“You never forget,” she said. “It’s like losing your arm or your leg — you are still alive but you have to learn how to live without it.”
Earlier this year Wong-Esposito presented the checks to CRS and the library, which unveiled a plaque in her husband’s honor.
(Courtesy: Lisa Wong-Esposito)
“Mr. Esposito loved his library, and he loved the dedicated people at North Forest Park,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott during a ceremony last month.
“He always stopped by at the library,” his wife added. “It’s quiet in the day and the staff was very, very friendly.”
Wong-Esposito will present the check to Our Lady of Mercy Church later this year, she said.
She said she also hopes her husband’s generosity will help others improve their lives.
“He really cared about people, more than himself,” she said.