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Williston Park Hit and Run Victim Identified as Grimaldi’s Pizza Manager

Garden City restaurant manager Dean LaLima struck and killed in an hit and run early Sunday.

 have identified the victim of a  this past Sunday as Dean LaLima, long time host and manager of the poplar  in Garden City.

LaLima, of Albertson, was found lying in the street at about 4:10 a.m. at the intersection of Syracuse Street and Broad Street in Williston Park after being struck by an unknown vehicle traveling northbound on Broad Street. He was pronounced deceased by a Nassau County Ambulance Advanced Medical Technician at 4:20 a.m.

This is the second tragedy in less than a year the Grimaldi's business community has had to endure. The popular pizzeria’s owner, Russell Ciolli, died unexpectedly in November 2011. He was 39.

Garden City village trustee Brian Daughney told Patch his family is deeply saddened by LaLima’s tragic death.

“Dean and his folks at Grimaldi’s have always been more than kind to my two small children. My kids always say ‘we want to go to Dean’s for pizza’ and that is exactly what we did on Sunday afternoon, which is when we learned of his death. My wife, Jackie, and I are not sure how to tell them that Dean is gone,” Daughney said.

“Dean was also very accommodating and welcoming to those of us in the village who needed a space for group events,” he added. “Just a month ago the four property owners’ association groups held our summer gathering there and on Saturday Dean hosted a group of us celebrating an award for Jerie Newman.”

Althea Robinson, executive director of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, said Dean was heartbroken at Russ’ passing a little less than a year ago. “And while it’s a sad thought, the two buddies are together now,” she added.

Michael and Randye Bernot remember Mr. LaLima as a “great guy and a great friend.” They posted this on Patch Monday: “We met at an establishment that he used to waiter at, and we became good friends. We would stay in contact and go out and see each other over the years, and to wake up and read this obituary made me feel completely sick to my stomach. Awful news. Terrible. Our thoughts are with all of your family and friends. May your soul rest in peace. Another good person taken from this world way too soon!!”

Sue Eigl, senior real estate specialist at The Donnelly Group on Franklin Avenue, said she and the Garden City community have once again lost a wonderful man and friend in Dean, or as he was known by friends, Dino.

“Shortly after the untimely passing of Russ, Grimaldi’s owner, another warm and welcoming part of all that makes Grimaldi’s a one-of-a-kind ‘Cheers’ like restaurant in our town has been taken too soon,” Eigl said. “You will be missed by all who loved you!”

Mindy F. Wolfle, director of marketing for  on Franklin Avenue, said she didn't know Mr. LaLima personnally but as a customer of Grimaldi’s he greeted her like “an old friend” every time she frequented the restaurant.

“There were no strangers entering Grimaldi’s when Dean was there with his welcoming smile and warm words,” Wolfe said. “It’s heartbreaking that tragedy has once again struck the Grimaldi’s ‘family’.”

Trustee Dennis Donnelly added, “I only knew Dean as the manager and host of Grimaldi’s ... There was never a time my family dined there that Dean didn’t come over to inquire if there was anything we needed. Dean was a sincere, hard working attribute not only to the restaurant but to Garden City as well. My and my family's prayers go out to Dean and his entire family.”

Garden City Patch Facebook fans added these kind words:

Denise Kershaw: “What a sweetheart of a man. He will be missed.”

Maria Russo Ingrassia: “Such a tragedy .. He will be missed.”

Nassau County Homicide squad detectives request anyone with information regarding the above crime to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.

Visiting is Wednesday 7-9 p.m. and Thursday 2-5 and 7-9 p.m., , 156 Willis Ave., Mineola. Funeral Mass to be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Aidan's Church. Entombment to follow at Holy Rood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials to North Shore Animal League are appreciated.

Vincent August 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Newsday this morning reports that Raymond F. Kalenka of 86 Yale St. was arrested just after midnight Wednesday and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death. Great Police investigative work.
Albert Longoria August 15, 2012 at 04:04 PM
My wife and I are gravely saddened by the tragic death of Mr. Dean LaLima. He was a wonderful person with a great heart. He always made you feel special when entering Grimaldi's. He would hug you and smile with delight to see you. He accommodated you in the best way possible. He treated everyone as an old friend. In many ways, we came to Grimaldi's because of Dean's sincere personal welcome and attention. In all my life, I cannot recollect a restaurant host or a business person that was warmer and more endearing than Dean LaLima. God has taken back a good soul. We will miss him dearly. Our prayers are with him and his family.
Geoffrey Walter (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
We have a story up, thank you: http://mineola.patch.com/articles/williston-park-man-arrested-in-fatal-hit-and-run
lawrence August 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Dean you were on of the good ones.The good times playing cards at Tommys. My after work pizza on the way home from Garden City Jeep. Rest in peace. Larry
Rob Dito August 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Outstanding man. You could not help smiling the second you walked into the restaurant and saw his smiling face as he greeted you as if you were lifelong friends. My family is deeply hurt by this news. Rest in peace. You were a true gentleman and you will not be forgotten. Rob D
alden s August 16, 2012 at 01:35 AM
God bless you may the lord watch over your family and soul. Alden S
Kenia R. August 19, 2012 at 05:20 AM
He was a wonderful man, Always welcome us with a big smile, Its very sad that he is gone :(..we will miss you..Rest in peace.. Roque Family

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