William "Bill" Francis Florio was born in Brooklyn, near where his parents, Bartolomeo and Virginia Florio, were living in Dyker Heights. His family moved to Valley Stream when he was very young and he spent the rest of his life there.
In the early 70s, he opened up Cantina Cafe, a wine and cheese cafe at 64 East Merrick Road in Valley Stream. Known by the nickname "Mel" to his patrons, he would run Cantina until the mid 1980s. He was joined in the business by his wife, Cathy Russo Florio. Together, they participated in food shows in the basement of the Green Acres Mall and Roosevelt Field Mall Gimbels stores, showcasing the offerings of Cantina Cafe. Notably, they were participating in one of those food shows in the days before their marriage in 1980.
Bill was also an expediter, which was the term he used for his job--similar to an engineer. He took on jobs all around the city and Long Island, especially in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Two of the jobs he talked about the most were updates to the Staten Island Hospital and the changes to the Hotel St George in Brooklyn Heights, where he came up with an ingenious way to preserve the historic swimming pool while also allowing the hotel to reduce it's size. In recent years, he only took on jobs in Valley Stream, the Town of Hempstead or local villages. He was working up until he died.
On top of this, he was a commercial real estate broker, working under his own name and his company, Cameo Realty.
In the mid-80s, Valley Stream Mayor Ralph Greco appointed him to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). He soon became the Chairman of that board, where he would stay until the mid-90s. After leaving the board, he would still attend meetings, but now represent people going before the BZA, asking for variances and getting plans approved. He co-wrote the zoning code for the village of Valley Stream, which was then replicated by villages all around the state.
He was a dedicated advocate for Italian Americans, because when he was younger, he saw how some of the non-Italian population of Valley Stream treated his parents. He was one of the founders of the Italian-American Civic Association of Valley Stream, and was originally their treasurer. He would serve for a number of years as their Vice President, until the organization folded in the early 2000s.
He was a friend to the Valley Stream community, and was very involved in village politics, and business, being on a first name basis with many elected officials and dignitaries. He was notably one of the driving forces behind the defeat of the Valley Stream BID in the early 1990s.
He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Cathy Ann Russo Florio as well as two sons, William B. Florio and Michael Florio.