Born August 4th 1968 and raised in Belleville, New Jersey along with an older brother Vinny and older sister Paula. I was a very shy boy who loved to stay close to home and very rarely slept out over friend’s houses etc. After losing my mom to cancer at the young age of seven, life changed for me. I took a leadership role in the household, helping my dad with everything from shopping, cleaning, cooking and even laundry. Aside from work and school, my dad and I spent most of our time together. We lived on a dead end street along a golf course. Life was good, sharing friends from the neighborhood with my siblings and attending a local school around the corner. As a young boy, I had my best friend living right next door, my neighbor Michael. When I turned 8 or 9 Michael and his family moved away to Cedar Grove, New Jersey. I was lost for a while without my best friend. But we would visit and see each other often. At this stage of my life, I started working around my street. I would help everyone I could with their trash cans, grass, snow etc. I loved to help everyone and spend any money earned at the local candy store “RoseBuds”. We would spend time at my Aunt Emily’s and Uncle John’s ( my Father’s youngest brother) house in Nutley. We had all of our holidays with them, and during the summer, they would let us swim in their pool. A side note to the story is that my Uncle John was a T.V. repairman and had a repair shop in the basement, and I loved to work on the T.V.s with him.
Growing up, I always had a passion for cars. My love for cars started around 10 years old. There was a gas station in the area called Covino’s, and during those long summer breaks from school, I would hang at the gas station and help out there, doing whatever they would let me do, from tire repairs to going on road service calls. I enjoyed being around the mechanics at the shop, and in time I was hired there as a gas attendant for my first job. School was not fun for me, I never liked going and I just did the best I could to make it through those long school years. My favorite class was auto shop, Belleville High School had a very good teacher at the time, Mr. Cattafi was his name, and he was a huge part of making my school experience successful. Ten years passed by, and at age 17 my dad passed away suddenly from heart issues, six months before my H.S. graduation. It was a difficult time but we pulled together as a family and got past all of the hard times.
I took a job right after I graduated from High school at a company in Belleville called Ideal Plating where I did electro plating and maintenance work for about 2 years. My brother was 21 at the time, and my sister was 18, we had totally different outlooks on life at the time, so we decided to sell the family home and I left Belleville to go live with my Aunt and Uncle in Nutley. I was fortunate to be very close with my family in Nutley, they had one daughter Maria, who just had gotten married and moved out to start her life. I spent the next 10 years. Living life with a complete family setting this was helpful after losing my parents at a young age. My cousin Maria, and her new husband Donald, became very close. I helped them work on their new house in Clifton N.J., and I was also thrilled to be a part of their two boys Barry and Anthony live from their birth. I am honored to be the Godfather to both boys. They are still a big part of my life.
My next adventure, with the support of my family, I decided to open a new Cleaning and Maintenance Business called Ideal Maintenance. This was my newest challenge, I was so happy to be my own boss; it seemed to be the perfect fit. I was able to operate the business from my new home. I built an office in the basement, fully furnished with a desk, my first computer and a type writer for billing. What a great feeling of accomplishment. I ran the business, while still working at the plating shop, until my business picked up enough accounts. A family friend gave me a lead on a job as a subcontractor to work at a school in Roseland N.J. So I went there to give an estimate, and this is where I spoke to the Superintendent of the schools, Mr. Nick Corbo and together we developed my new career as a custodian at the Lester C. Noecker School. Soon thereafter, I gave up my business to work full time at the school. I spent each day learning more and more about the building and grounds. I treated this school as if it were my own. Before long, I was asked to become Head Custodian, where with the help of the other custodians and many great Administrators, our school became the best in the entire Essex county area.
I had a good, stable job and I started to see how important family was; now I needed to find my soulmate. I had a nice group of lifelong friends, and I didn’t have to search too far, one of my Best friend’s Nicky, had a sister in law named Debbie. She was just recently divorced shortly after giving birth to her daughter Rachel and before long we were dating. Debbie and I had the same tight nit family values; we lived together for a bit, and then started looking for a house. We chose one in Verona N.J. close to all of our friends and family. Even Michael, my next door neighbor from years ago, only lived one town away, it was perfect. It had a good school system, and it was a safe place to raise our family. Debbie and I were married on March 3rd, 2000, and we did everything together to make our house a warm and cozy home.
Now, getting back to my 25 years in the Roseland School system. As the enrollment grew and grew, I worked through two building additions to help accommodate the larger group of children moving into the small town. I was able to hire a very close friend Tom, and train him to eventually take over the lead position at the school. I spent countless hours at the building doing snow removal, landscaping, summer cleaning etc. I was in charge of all aspects of the building, from the rooftop units, to the underground water retention systems. It was a huge responsibility, and with the help of my crew, and my wife, I was able to succeed at work and home.
In April of 2002 our daughter, Rebecca, was born and I couldn’t be any happier, I have the most amazing step daughter, Rachel, and now a new baby Rebecca. My wife Debbie was so supportive of my job, and everyone at the school loved me. It was truly all that I could have ever have asked for out of life. Debbie is an amazing wife and mother to our children. On my 40th birthday, she decided that it was time for me to have something that I always dreamed of. She gave me the green light to buy a classic car it was a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I loved that car and would attend many car shows in the area with my friends.
Our home was visited by all and seemed like the place where everyone wanted to be. My two nephews, Barry and Anthony were always over. All of Debbie’s family would stop in with their kids whenever they wanted, the door was always open. Over time, I was asked 3 more times to be a godfather and each time I accepted the roll. Matt, Grace and then Taylor joined my list of godchildren. I’m so proud to have been chosen for this role.
As Rachel and Rebecca grew they always had friends over. We let them bake, play video games, or just hang. They loved to be home. Rebecca took a liking to sports, soccer is her game. We still travel to as many games as possible, she is a sophomore in high school now, playing on the varsity soccer team. Rachel is more into her academic studies and creating things we support her with that, she is a junior at SUNY New Paltz in New York.
I spent 25 years in the Roseland school district and I enjoyed every challenging day there, working closely with all of the staff to ensure that every child had a safe place to learn. During all of my years at the school we accomplished that goal. I was blessed to stay in one place for such a long period of time. I decided to take an early retirement 2016 to continue my journey in life.
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