Joseph Vanacore

Joseph Vanacore

1927 - 2017

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Obituary of Joseph Vanacore

Joseph Louis Vanacore passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family in Madison on Monday, November 6, 2017, after a brief illness and a long and vibrant life.  He had recently celebrated his 90th birthday with his family and was a man deeply loved and universally admired by all who knew him. As the adored and respected patriarch of a large, close family, he will be sorely missed but he will live on in the legacy of strong values and unconditional love and support he personified.

Joseph was born in 1927 in Newark, NJ, and was taken from the hospital to his family’s newly purchased home in Bloomfield, NJ, where he grew up.  He graduated high school in June of 1944 (at 16) and attended Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, the first person in his extended family to attend college. He studied mechanical engineering six days a week with no summer break under an accelerated program for engineers as part of the war effort. He was drafted into the Army at age 18 and completed basic training in Maryland. After the war ended, Joseph was given a special discharge so he could return to his engineering studies at Stevens.

Joseph had a long, successful career working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for over 35 years, retiring in 1992. He began his career in 1958 as an engineer in maintenance engineering and earned many promotions based on his high intellect, competence, strong work ethic, and his much-admired ability to get along with everyone. He held a series of respected positions, including General Manager of NJ Airports, Executive Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals, and finally, Assistant Executive Director of the Port Authority. He was a pioneer in treating men and women of all backgrounds equally and fairly, and he received numerous awards for Diversity Awareness before Diversity Awareness was a widespread movement.

Joseph met his wife Elaine (nee Perrin) during college, and they were married for 64 years until her recent passing in August, 2017.  They raised their seven children (6 daughters and 1 son) in Bloomfield, NJ, moving to North Caldwell in 1971. Joseph and Elaine had relocated to Morristown, NJ in 2006 and spent most of their time and energy entertaining, helping, or visiting their many family members, including their 22 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Joseph spent much of his childhood sitting on the front stoops in his friendly Bloomfield neighborhood, mostly first or second generation Italian immigrants, listening to family stories, playing games, sharing delicious food, and always helping each other out when needed.  And that’s how he lived the rest of his life: listening with great interest and compassion, telling entertaining stories, figuring out ways to have fun, always available to help, and of course enjoying eating! Joe had a wonderful sense of humor and a sparkle in his eyes, especially lighting up when any of his adored grandchildren were around. He could find something funny in any situation and was known for all the silly songs he made up about everything.  He could talk to anyone and everyone and was often the life of the party. What struck most people was his deep and authentic kindness, love and caring. He always put others before himself and was uncommonly humble about his many successes in his career and life.   He and his wife Elaine loved nothing more than hosting their large family in their home in Eastham, MA where they were the happiest when many adults, big kids, little kids, babies, and of course dogs, were running around. He was a man of strong faith and the local Catholic Church was always a focal point of his life.

Joseph leaves behind one son, Mark Vanacore of Darien, CT (Tricia); six daughters, Carolyn Clark of Newton, MA (John), Nancy Stricklin of Wakefield, RI (Mike), Judy Christofferson of Greenville, DE (Randy), Jill Reid of Princeton (Richard), Suzanne Durney of Maplewood (Martin), and Beth Hurley of Madison; a sister, Georgette Soriano of Verona; and a sister-in-law, Roberta Canfield of Ringoes. He was also blessed to be survived by 22 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.

Besides his beloved wife Elaine, Joseph is preceded in death by his parents, the late Joseph and Mary Vanacore; his cherished son-in-law, Andrew Hurley; and his brothers-in-law, Richard Canfield and Jack Soriano.

A Memorial Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held privately at St. Vincent Martyr Church, Madison. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Madison Memorial Home.

To share an online condolence with Joseph's family, please visit www.madisonmemorialhome.com