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Mike Gatto at father's funeral: 'Our hearts are broken'

November 25, 2013
  • The casket of Joseph Anthony Gatto is carried by pallbearers at the funeral for the slain father of Congressman Mike Gatto Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. Inside the casket was covered with white cloth. Once outside, it was draped with an American flag.
The casket of Joseph Anthony Gatto is carried by pallbearers… (Tim Berger / Glendale…)

At a Monday morning mass for his slain father, Assemblyman Mike Gatto fought back tears as he described the deep pain and sadness that has filled his family's days since his father was found shot to death in his home earlier this month.

“Our hearts are broken. We are struggling mightily to understand the dark nature of some human souls,” the Democrat from Silver Lake said before more than 550 people at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Los Feliz, where Joseph Gatto’s coffin was covered in a white cloth.

PHOTOS: Funeral service for Joseph Anthony Gatto

His 78-year-old father, Joseph Gatto, was found dead on Nov. 13 in his Silver Lake home after an apparent home invasion. Coroner's officials have confirmed that he died from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and the Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Joseph Gatto was an artist at the peak of his success when he died, Mike Gatto said, but his greatest accomplishment was transforming the lives of thousands of students as an art educator.

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He co-founded the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in 1985 and was honored by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1989, respectively, for his role in arts education.

Since Joseph Gatto's death, many of his students have told his family members about how the educator changed their lives.

Several have asked Joseph Gatto's daughter Marianna Gatto to be friends on Facebook and have changed their profile pictures to an image of Joseph Gatto.

“You played an intrinsic role in helping us get through this,” Marianna Gatto told his former students, dozens of whom attended the mass.

“He gave, he gave, he gave, asking for nothing in return,” said Marianna Gatto, who discovered Joseph Gatto dead on the night they were supposed to have their weekly dinner together.

Rev. James Mott spoke of Joseph Gatto's spirituality and his daily attendance at mass.

“Joe, a quiet, peace-loving man didn't draw attention to himself,” Mott said. “Yet he spent his life drawing attention to the beauty we, as human beings, create.”

Not only did Joseph Gatto design artistic jewelry, but he also loved visual arts and enjoyed teaching Mike Gatto's 3-year-old daughter, Elliana, whom he called his “angelic messenger,” to paint.

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