We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Leonardis Memorial Home
ALBERICO PUZZUOLI / December 3, 1930 – June 26, 2022
According to the Ellis Island archives, between 1892 and 1954 more than twelve million immigrants passed through the U.S. immigration portal at Ellis Island, enshrining it as an icon of America's welcome. We’d like to tell you about our favorite one.
Alberico Puzzuoli, age 91 of East Hanover, passed away peacefully at home on June 26, 2022 surrounded by his family. He was born in Casalvieri, a poor village in Italy, the youngest of seven children. When he was three years old, his family immigrated to France for a better life. At 17 he continued his own quest for a better life when he applied to immigrate to the United States. After several years, his application was approved and he sailed on a boat called ‘La Liberté’ arriving at Ellis Island in December of 1952. He started a new life in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ and went to work in construction. He worked exhausting long days, digging sewers and building roads. He was always grateful for the opportunity to work and saved every penny striving towards the American Dream.
Alberico worked construction his entire life. He could speak four languages, Italian, French, English and a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese, despite having no formal education. He dropped out of elementary school because his family was too poor to buy him proper attire to attend. He left and never went back so he could help support his family. For the rest of his life, no job was beneath him and he knew the meaning of sacrifice and hard work.
In 1958, he returned to France to marry Maria. She joined him in 1959 to begin their new life together in America. Alberico eventually joined Local 472 Heavy Construction Union and over the course of 40 years worked on a number of major projects including the Verrazano Bridge, Rahway Prison and Route 287. He could build or repair anything and embraced the challenge to do so. He was proficient in carpentry, plumbing, and electric, but his passion and first love was masonry. In his eyes, anything and everything could be built with cement. He learned and mastered all of his trade skills by just watching and learning from others.
The combination of Alberico’s handyman skills and Maria’s keen financial acumen allowed them to buy their first property in Irvington, NJ, a six-family home. With continued hard work and frugality, they eventually bought a single-family home in East Hanover.
Alberico loved his wife’s cooking and never wasted a morsel of food, for it could be eaten tomorrow. A bowl of cold pasta was his favorite breakfast. A scrap of wood or tile left over from a project could somehow be used for another project. Someone else’s trash was always a treasure. He could appreciate the value of everything and repurpose anything, a gift bestowed on him coming from extreme poverty. He lived by the mantra having just enough was a bountiful feast and to always be grateful for everything you are given because it could be gone tomorrow.
He always enjoyed watching a good boxing match, a soccer game commentated in Spanish, or listening to a great opera voice, like Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. With eagle eyes he could he spot an orphaned coin on the ground from a mile away. His greatest regret was not being able to finish school and his greatest pride was being able to provide for his family and avail his children the opportunity to be college educated.
Alberico lost his mother at the age of 7 and had an absent father. He was raised primarily by his eldest sister Femia. Despite all the misfortune, suffering and pain he endured throughout his life, he still always had a positive outlook, a keen sense of humor and sharp wit. He carried no self-pity or excuses to lead a life of purpose for his own family. Even during his time on hospice, on days where he was alert and awake, when asked how he was doing, his response with a smile would be “I feel like a million bucks”. To his dying day, he would remark on how he loved this country and immigrating to America was the best decision of his life. He will always be a remarkable role model to his children and his sacrifices and hardships will be appreciated for generations to come.
Alberico is survived and is the beloved husband of Maria, devoted father to Elisa (husband Pavo), Palma, (husband John) and Mary-Claire (husband Brian) and cherished grandfather to Nina, Mara, Thanya, Kylie and Liam. He was the last surviving of 7 siblings.
In honor of Alberico, please gather your closest family members for an early dinner at 2 pm on any given Sunday, including the pasta of your choice. Have the oldest family member sit at the head of the table and listen to his/her life stories. Enjoy each other, eat, laugh, and treasure that very moment.
Visitation at the Leonardis Memorial Home, Inc., 210 Ridgedale Avenue, Florham Park on Wednesday from 9-10:30am, followed by the funeral mass at St. Rose of Lima Church in East Hanover at 11am. Entombment at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.