You can call it a message from above, or just pure coincidence, but either way, it was certainly most welcome.
On Monday morning, a day when the Longo extended family and friends prepared to attend the wake for 62-year-old David Longo, an unexpected thing happened. On The Daily Gazette’s weekly “Capital Region Scrapbook” page — which features photographs of local events from years gone by — there appeared a photo of David’s sister Donna, gathering with friends from her Schalmont High School Class in 1968 to plan a five-year class reunion.
Donna Longo Feulner passed away in 2003.
In the photo, Donna is looking straight at the camera, and smiling.
“Yesterday morning, as soon as I opened the paper and saw it, I knew it was my sister. I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s Donna,’ ” said Judy Longo Young of Rotterdam, Donna’s sister. “I mean, how ironic is that?
“She was reaching out to us, saying, ‘Yes, I’m here for you.’ There’s no other explanation. It was just amazing. It was a godsend,” said Judy.
“We all said the same thing: Of all the pictures that could be in the paper, why would that be there? There was a reason,” said Judy. “That was something that we just didn’t expect, and we were happy that it was in.
“You don’t know what that meant to our family. David passed away on May 13. He had just been diagnosed with lung cancer a month and a half ago. My sister [Donna] was 58 when she died of the same thing, lung cancer.”
Judy said the family has received “tons of messages” on Facebook about the photo of Donna appearing in the newspaper, and that it was mentioned over and over at the wake that night at DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home on Helderberg Avenue.
The obituary for David Longo, a Duanesburg resident and longtime co-owner of Empire Paving, appeared in The Daily Gazette on Sunday. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, children Heather and Dominick and three grandchildren.
In addition to Judy, he is survived by siblings Tom, Robert and Rick Longo and Mariann Brand.
Jeff Wilkin, a Gazette reporter who retired in 2020 but continues to research and assemble photographs used in “Capital Region Scrapbook,” said pictures are usually chosen on a random basis.
“We always try to find a year in which we have plenty of negatives in our archive boxes,” Wilkin said. “Then we go to our microfilm, review newspapers in a chosen month page by page and find published photos for caption information. Then we try to locate the negatives. Sometimes we find the negatives, sometimes we don’t.”
Wilkin said a “supernatural sign” on the page has been reported before.
“I think it was a classroom photo, a lot of children, from the 1940s or 1950s,” he said. “One little girl was in the front of the shot, smiling. It was published on the anniversary of the woman’s death or maybe on her birthday, but the family called and said they took it as a sign from beyond, that their loved one was saying ‘I’m OK!’ ”