More than 1,000 visitors Thursday remembered Anthony “Buddy” Amoroso — the East Baton Rouge metro councilman killed on a June 30 bike ride — for his many roles as a family member, prankster, political leader, Boy Scout Master, law enforcement supporter and grape stomp contest judge.

A driver struck and killed Amoroso, 61, as he rode his bike along La. 66 west of St. Francisville. On the first night of visitation, staffers at Resthaven Funeral Home had to replace the guest book three times to make room for all the signatures. A line of visitors weaved through the funeral home all evening.

Amoroso’s visitation will continue Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and his family will hold a graveside service afterward. An invitation-only funeral service will follow Friday evening at Christ Presbyterian Church.

Those who attended the wake Thursday crossed political and community lines and remembered Amoroso for his warmth and ability to get along with people regardless of their backgrounds or political views. Many said he was a rare example of a political leader who refused to make arguments personal and who tried to emphasize that he had a life outside of being an elected leader.

“He was a great guy, an honest guy, not only a political guy,” said George Shaheen, the owner of Jones Creek Café and Oyster Bar where Amoroso was a regular.

Shaheen said he met Amoroso when he ran for Metro Council for the first time in 2012. Amoroso visited the cafe, introduced himself and asked for their vote. He ended up running unopposed, but after that, he frequented the cafe and got to know Shaheen as he ordered sensation salads with chicken, grilled catfish with lemon butter, and oysters both chargrilled and on the half shell.

Harold Keith, Amoroso’s brother-in-law, remembered Amoroso for his sense of humor and his high jinks. Keith laughed in the funeral home’s lobby as he recalled how Amoroso tried to handcuff his sister, Vickie, to him at their wedding reception. And he remembered another time when Amoroso played a trick on his father by bringing him a glass of vinegar instead of the glass of water his father had requested.

Amoroso’s family stood on either side of his closed casket during the visitation at the funeral home’s chapel. Sprays of bright sunflowers and roses filled the room.

Early during the wake,  Thomas Clement, Amoroso’s bike riding companion on the day he was killed, visited Amoroso’s family. Clement, 71, was also struck by the vehicle and flown to the hospital with serious injuries. He asked to be released from the hospital Wednesday so he could attend the wake.

Clement arrived in a wheelchair as people lined up to shake his hand and wish him a speedy recovery. All visitors received prayer cards adorned with a photo of Amoroso and the Bible verse John 14:1-7.

Honor guard members from public safety agencies across Baton Rouge stood beside Amoroso’s casket.

Jerad Daniel, the honor guard commander for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, said they first met when Amoroso called because his storage sheds were broken into. When Daniel arrived on the scene, Amoroso introduced himself simply as “Buddy” rather than as a councilman.

“Everyone in public service should emulate him,” said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, who also attended the wake. “He really cared about the public he served.”

Amoroso’s jovial side came out during his service as a judge for the Greater Baton Rouge Italian American Association’s annual grape stomp contest, said the association’s president, Phillip Cancilleri. Amoroso also served as a grand marshal for the association’s marchers at the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade.

“We’ll have a vacant seat in his honor,” Cancilleri said about the grape stomp coming up later this month.

Amoroso was a scout master for Trinity Lutheran troop, and Troop 169 showed up in full force on Thursday. Scout leaders said Amoroso was passionate about teaching scouts about how government worked and about their responsibilities as citizens.

Former Scoutmaster Randy Breckwoldt said Amoroso would show up at 6 a.m. when scouts were leaving for camp — even when he was not joining them — just to bring doughnuts and milk for their sendoff. And Assistant Scoutmaster Jason Genovese said Amoroso helped his son to become an Eagle Scout.

“Buddy helped my son get in the Air Force, and I helped his son get in the Navy,” Genovese said.

Fellow Metro Council members and various other public officials also packed into the funeral home chapel. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson, council members, library board members, airport officials, political consultants, city hall staffers and others paid their respects.

City-parish Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel said he already misses seeing Amoroso on the third floor of City Hall, where he was a constant presence. Gissel said he was amazed at Amoroso’s connection to his constituents, which he learned about when he visited a Federation of Civic Associations meeting and heard that Amoroso sent them regular email updates about news in his district.

Mike Walker, a former councilman, said he spoke with Amoroso every week.

“I didn’t get to talk to him this week,” Walker said. “Except in my prayers.”


Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​