“It’s a wonderful life!” Alfonso M. DeCicco, (Al, Allie), 96 years old, of Livingston NJ, died at home on December 21st, 2020, surrounded by his wife and daughters. He was born in Newark NJ in 1924 to Pasquale DeCicco and Antonina (nee Peccatiello) DeCicco. He leaves behind his beloved wife Claire (nee Caffera) of 70 years, daughter Annette DeCicco/husband Lawrence Stanley, Diane (nee DeCicco) Brozyna/husband Garry F. Brozyna and their children Garry J. Brozyna/wife Lauren, Allison (nee Brozyna) Altieri/husband Matthew, and Emily Claire Brozyna, along with great-grandchildren Zoey Claire Brozyna and William Nicholas Altieri. He was predeceased by daughter Laura DeCicco, and survived by sister Lucille DelGuercio, plus countless family and dearest friends.
Al was a veteran of the U.S. Army, World War II, in the 376th Anti-Aircraft Artillery, serving in the European Campaign throughout Normandy, France and Germany, receiving the campaign’s Victory Medal. In 2003, he was a recipient of the NJ Distinguished Service Medal, Oak Leaf Cluster, a high-level decoration of the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.
Al lived for many years in West Orange, and summered every year at the family compound in Long Branch where he first met Claire, 75 years ago. He lived a fabled life and was known to help people, without consideration, from the many paths he walked throughout his long life. He was on the Board of Trustees of United Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey and was Past President of the Parents Association.
Benefitting from the G.I. Bill, Al was a graduate of Seton Hall University, 1950, BA in Physical Education. He was VP of Sales at Chicago Title Insurance where he retired in the 1980’s, but his true vocation was his athletic career at Rutgers University as Assistant Professor and Fencing Coach of the Newark campus in 1956. During a span of ten years, Coach DeCicco grew the men’s varsity fencing team from one win/nine losses to an undefeated season in 1962. In ’61, his team won the only National Association Intercollegiate Athletic Championship in school history. In 1960, Al became Rutgers-Newark golf coach and again went undefeated in 1962, placing 4th in the Eastern Intercollegiate Golf Championship at Montclair Golf Club in West Orange.
Coach DeCicco was an outstanding coach, epitomizing integrity and sportsmanship. In 2008, he was coach-inductee of the Rutgers – Newark Athletic Hall of Fame and the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame in the same year for the sport of fencing:
‘As a student in 1942, Al was co-captain of the Barringer High School fencing team that won City, State and Metropolitan Championships including the prestigious Bittle Trophy. After serving in the army in World War II, Al returned to Barringer to coach the fencing ream from 1950-55, all undefeated winning seasons. In 1956, Al was appointed fencing coach at Rutgers-Newark. In 1959, he started the first women’s varsity fencing team and had its first winning season in 1961. The women’s team was the first female varsity sport in the history of Rutgers Newark, and perhaps all of Rutgers University.’
The significance of the women’s varsity milestone was recognized in 2018 at the Rutgers University – Newark Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, inducting each of Coach DeCicco’s 1959 women’s varsity team members, a monumental historical achievement celebrating equal opportunities for women in the spirit of athletic competition. Coach DeCicco, along with Rutgers University, was commended for taking the lead at that time in the history of college sports.
Above all else, Al was known for his story-telling, and gathering friends and family together at the table. Many will raise a glass, martini or otherwise, to toast a wonderful man, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, and friend.
A Burial at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover was handled privately to the family. A memorial Service will be held at a later date, please check back for information.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Hospice by copying and pasting the following link to your browser: AtlanticHealth.org/donateavn