“He was very proud of his Irish heritage and even more proud of his country, the United States,” said Joey Diamond, son of Michael Diamond, a lifelong member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 17 of Long Beach, who died on Oct. 9. He was 59.
Diamond was born in the Bronx in 1958 and moved to Long Beach when he was in third grade, Joey said. He attended Long Beach High School and graduated in 1977. Five years later, he married Joanne Bella Diamond.
He worked a variety of jobs, including the New York Police Department Harbor Unit, Joey said, and the New York City Sandhogs.
He earned his major degree from the AOH in 1994, AOH members said, formerly served as president and either headed or was involved with numerous committees throughout the years.
Diamond was a recipient of the Man of the Year award in 2003 and was recently honored as aide to the Grand Marshal for the Saint Brendan the Navigator Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival on Oct. 6. Year after year, he played an integral role in coordinating Irish Day.
He also helped build the monument at Hibernian Plaza on Washington Boulevard and Park Avenue, said Greg Schmalenberger, vice president of the AOH.
“Each time passing it on Park, let’s be reminded of the positive impact Michael made on this community and continue his ambition to help others,” Schmalenberger said.
Diamond was a member of the AOH Honorguard for many years and took pride in his unit when he marched in the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as local parades. Regardless of who the New York City parade grand marshal was each year, Schmalenberger said, Diamond received more recognition. “Each block, from all directions, you would hear someone yelling ‘Humpo,’” he said, referring to Diamond’s nickname.
He loved marching with the colors, Schmalenberger said, and even started his own ritual — towards the end of every AOH event, Diamond would wave the American flag and sing along as the band played God Bless America. His friends, and sometimes even strangers, would join.
Another nickname Diamond earned was “Uncle Ice Pop.” Joey recalled that when children and their parents walked up and down their block, Lindell Boulevard, to get to the beach, and his father handed out ice pops to the kids.
He loved to golf, Joey said, and always supported his children when they participated in sports. “He was our number one supporter,” he said. “He had a big personality, and he was larger than life.”
“Mike was a great brother, friend and mentor to all in the AOH,” Schmalenberger said. “His legacy will forever live on through the lessons that will be passed on. Mike believed in our motto of unity, friendship and Christian charity.”
A ceremony and funeral mass were held on Oct. 13 at St. Ignatius Martyr Roman Catholic Church in Long Beach and Christopher T. Jordan Funeral Home in Island Park.
Diamond is survived by his sons, Joey Diamond and Michael Diamond Jr.; his daughters, the late Jenéa Diamond, Antoinette Borello and Kassandra Diamond; his siblings, Bridget Stokes, Patty O’Neill, Jimmy Diamond, Sean Diamond and Mary Jane Diamond; his grandchildren, McCartney, Charlie and Darla May; and nieces and nephews.