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Walt's Daughter

Farewell Tony Stefanelli - 36th Combat Engineer

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Sad news to my WWII friends...Tony Stefanelli (36th Engineer) passed away Tuesday evening in his sleep. He was 102! Wow! He went peacefully though and I'm sure Carl Furtado and he are having one helluva reunion. Of course we will miss him tremendously. There was only one Tony. Spent many a day with him throughout the years. First pic is Carl on left, then Tony! Second pic is Carl, Tony and Colin Hotham at our hotel in 2015. Third pic is of Tony and me with his birthday pumpkin pie! Fourth pic is Carl and Tony from the war! Stay rugged!

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There are a lot of feelings I had when I first read "Farewell Tony Stefanelli". I would love to be able to tell you all of them at one time, but since that isn't possible, I'll try to break them down. I had that heart lowering, sad feeling when I first read the words but I don't want really want to say that this is necessarily sad for a couple of reasons. First off is my belief in God and that this life isn't the point, if you follow me. Secondly, he was 102 and you certainly couldn't say he didn't live a long, fruitful life. What I do feel is that sense of loss that we all get when someone we knew (regardless of how long) that we really liked. I only met him the once, but I really enjoyed my time with him. I only regret I didn't get to hang out more since he was such a great guy with awesome stories to tell. I would have really enjoyed spending more time with him, but it was not to be. I know he would have been surrounded by his children and grandkids at the end and that is the most important. I'll just have to wait until that great everything reunion in the sky.

Farewell Tony. You were certainly one of the good ones and you can't do much better than that.

:36_15_54::14_2_108:

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Beautifully said. I just wish that more people from the forum could have met him. But they can still enjoy the documentary, etc. of he and Carl Furtado. Both great men who I miss so, so much!

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The following was also sent to me by his son, Carl Stefanelli.
 

Marion, please forward this to Jim [and anyone else I missed] as I am not sure of his email.

 

At Dad's repast I gave this short remembrance of Tony's long life. 

 

Tony was born in 1915.  He was the oldest of 8 children.  All were born at home with the assistance of their grandmother [Gaccionne] and a midwife. 

 

As the oldest son he was first up for chores.

  • Originally the apartment was heated with the kitchen stove.  That meant helping his father cut lots of wood.  It also meant the bedrooms were cold at night.
  • Later he helped his father cut and install pipes for a steam heat/radiator system.  Whenever they had it, wood was burned in the furnace.  Cheaper than coal.
  • They kept a garden and chickens.  Tony helped with the chickens while fighting off the rooster.
  • He helped his father install electrical wires to replace the gas lights.  They ran the wires through the gas pipes.  There was a gas meter in the basement, but it was more like a parking meter.  You put in a quarter and got 25 cents of gas.  When the lights flickered another quarter was needed.

 

I asked Dad if they got Christmas presents.  He said in their stockings they got walnuts left over from the dinner the night before.  However, one year he got a wagon.  The wagon came with a chore.  His father saved scrap wood at work.  Dad had to pull his wagon to the factory and loaded up.  On the  way home he would come to a railroad track.  There he had to unload the wagon, carry it over the tracks and then reload the wood.

 

Tony was a lifelong mushroom picker.  Seems he knew the good ones from the poison ones.  His father and uncle John needed him on mushroom picking trips, because Dad could read the road signs.

 

Tony graduated from high school in 1932.  He went to work Sonneborne, a chemical company owned by a Jewish family.  They kept the plant running right through the Depression.  A four day work week was the worst it got.  Normally,  work ran from Monday through Friday and half a day on Saturday.  The plant manager vouched for grandpa when they needed a mortgage to buy the building on Washington Ave.

 

Dad's father, Joseph, and his Uncle John were foremen.  His grandfather [Gaccionne] worked there as a cooper, making wooden barrels.  His sister, Rachael, worked in the office in New York.  Dad's first job was running a machine that canned Vaseline.  Dad worked at Sonneborne through the 30's while attending Newark College evenings.

 

A month after Pearl Harbor, Tony got his draft notice.  He was 26.  The next 43 months were spent in N Africa and Europe.  Dad was in the 36th Combat Engineers Regiment.  They made 5 amphibious landing, 3 of them under fire.  The 36th logged more days in combat than any other US unit, except the 3rd Division [?].  I attended his last several army reunions.  Sadly, he was the only attendee at the 2017 reunion.  He loved getting together with his dear friend, Carl Futatdo and the other old soldiers.  They always enjoyed reminiscing about the good times.

 

After the war and before he landed a position, Tony's sister told him that a local grocery store needed some help.  Park Market, in Nutley was run by my maternal grandfather, Vincent LoCurcio.  My mother, Filomena, helped run the store.  Dad worked there for about a half a day, and then complained to Fil, "If you want to be a boss, you better learn to give orders!"  Fil told him to leave!   A few days later he returned and asked Fil for a date.  Three dates later he told her they should get married.  "We are both 30 years old and need to get married.  Let's not waste time with this dating." 

 

You know the rest of the story.  Fil ran her own store and Tony was a partner at an electrical contractor.  He worked till he was 70 and then played golf for the next 30 years.

 

He had a good life.

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