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Rocky Abalsamo Sat By Wife's Grave Every Day for 20 Years, Braving Heat, Rain, Cold

Liz Burlingame
Published: June 7, 2014

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Rocky Abalsamo sits by the grave of his wife, Julia, on Nov. 26, 2000. For many years after his wife of 55 years died in 1993, he spent every day by her side at St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury. Decorations were brought by the community of friends that have developed around him.

A man who sat by his wife's grave each day for nearly 20 years, through every snowstorm and heat wave, has died at the age of 97.

Rocky Abalsamo passed away June 4 after several months of declining health. He is set to be buried beside his wife of 55 years, Julia "Julita" Echeverria Abalsamo.

Devastated by his wife's passing in 1993 due to complications from heart surgery, Rocky held a daily vigil next to her grave to ensure the love of his life was never lonesome. Each morning he would walk to St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury, Mass., unfold his blue chair and unpack the belongings he brought with him, such as photos and other tokens, Daily Mail reports.

One photo he carried with him each day was of a lovely woman with green eyes and dark hair. According to the Boston Globe, she had written on the back: "Today the sky smiles to me. I see you. You look at me. Today I believe in God. With all my love, Julita."

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Staying by her side until the cemetery closed for the evening, Rocky would rarely eat or drink in order to avoid bathroom breaks. Before returning home, he sprinkled crumbs across the plot so the chipmunks would keep her company after he left.

He maintained his daily visits until 2005, when a death in the family encouraged him to spend more time with his surviving family members. His last visit was in July, before he fell ill.

Rocky met Julia in their native Buenos Aires, Argentina, and they shared their first kiss on September 16, 1937, a date he celebrated annually. They married a year later.

The couple followed their children to the U.S. in 1971, moving to Boston in 1972.

Rocky's story became widely known in 2000, when a Boston Globe article profiled his unwavering devotion to his late wife. The national attention amused him, but he said all he wanted was to remain close to his wife.

"She is a part of me, so here I am whole," Rocky told the Boston Globe in 2000. "Being here makes me feel better. Not good, but better. I do it for Julita, and for myself."

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