GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- On Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes announced the passing of a well-known parking lot attendant, who worked for the organization for more than twenty years.
Lou Monaco, often called "Sweet Lou" worked as a parking lot attendant for the stadium for 21 years and was friends with fans and players alike.
Monaco's niece, Linda Wilson, says Lou lived with her for the past seven years and helped take care of him. Wilson said Lou became close friends with several Arizona sports stars over the years. She said former Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzales visited Lou a couple of weeks ago and that they talked and laughed about old times.
Another good friend of Monaco's, former Coyotes right wing Shane Doan, would often call and check in on his condition. Wilson said she spoke with Doan, who called last night. She said although Lou's condition had been declining for the past two weeks, when she told him Doan had called, Lou repeated, "Shane Doan, Shane Doan..." before continuing down the hallway with his walker.
Wilson said Lou passed away peacefully in his sleep overnight.
"Hearing that he passed was.. just devastating. He lived a long life and brought joy to so many people. It was nice to know him," said Diamondbacks fan, Cassidy Kyrch.
"We're not in that part of Phoenix too often, but my dad and I just so happen to be there yesterday [near the Diamondbacks stadium], and we were talking about Lou specifically and how that was one of the highlights of going to games, was seeing Lou," said Kyrch. "We always looked forward to it. My dad would call him 'Big Lou,' and we just knew we'd have a good interaction with him, no matter how the games went."
Prior to his years spent befriending and bringing smiles to the faces of Arizona sports fans, Lou served in World War II and fought in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he spent most of his life working as a milk man from 11 at night until 7 in the morning, according to his son, Joe Monaco.
"In 1994, he retired and moved out to Arizona to be with his family. And he got bored very quickly being retired," said Joe.
Joe says his dad applied for a job with the Arizona Diamondbacks, hoping to get a job as an usher so he could watch baseball.
"They assigned him to the VIP parking garage. My dad was the kind of guy, he could get in an elevator, and by time they got to the fourth floor, they would think that they were his lifelong best friend," said Joe.
Joe says his father made many friends over the years working for the Diamondbacks, Coyotes, and even for the Phoenix Suns at times.
"My dad went along with the idea that everyone was his best friend, and it kind of made everybody his best friend," said Joe. "People always tend to worry about things that in the future don't seem to matter. My dad really lived every day and enjoyed every day. He was always happy. He loved every single day that he lived, and we could all take a lesson from that."
The Arizona Coyotes released the following statement in regards to Monaco's passing:
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Lou Monaco, our parking lot attendant from 1996 - 2017. “Sweet Lou” loved every player and every player loved him back. He was and will always be, part of our Pack.