Anthony DiIonno

Anthony P. DiIonno

Saturday, December 29th, 1923 - Friday, February 21st, 2020
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Anthony P. Di Ionno, 96, of Spring Lake Heights and formerly of Summit, passed away peacefully on Feb. 21 at the Wellington Estates assisted living facility.

Mr. Di Ionno was a legendary teacher in the Madison School system for over 30 years, remembered as a life-changing mentor in the northside Italian American community. It was not unusual for students he taught more than a half-century ago to reach out to him through his retirement and thank him for his influence. The most recent notes came just days before his death.

Born on Dec. 29, 1923, Mr. Di Ionno lived in the neighborhoods of Southern Italian immigrants along Main Street, Millburn, where he made friendships that lasted a lifetime. After the sudden death of his father, young Tony Di Ionno went to work in a local grocery store at age 11 and worked continuously until he was 87, from the Great Depression to the Recession.

His 76 years of work equaled the number of years he spent with the love of his life, Rose Tricarico. They met at 19 over the soda fountain counter of Hill’s drugstore in Spring Lake. After several trips to the Shore to tease and flirt with the teen-aged waitress, Tony asked Rose if he could walk her home. She answered, “That’s okay, I know the way home.” But he persisted and they married two years later, during the end of WW II.

Mr. Di Ionno spent the war years as a signalman on a sea-going tug boat, and did tours in the South Pacific, South America and Europe. After his discharge he attended Montclair State Teacher’s College, where he majored in languages and mastered in Spanish and French along with his native English and Italian. His travels and language education honed his appreciation for a wide bandwidth of history and the arts, from ancient Greek philosophy and mythology to the works of Salvador Dali.

He began his teaching career in Wall Twp. and Randolph before settling in at Lucy D. Anthony School, where many of his students were children of post-war Italian immigrants. As a college-educated Italian-speaking American, Mr. Di Ionno not only taught the children, but helped their parents assimilate, especially in dealing with local government.

Later, he obtained a master’s degree from Newark State (now Kean) and became a learning disabilities counselor in the early days of special education. His gentle compassion for kids with special needs was in sharp contrast to his reputation as a disciplinarian in the classroom.

In addition to his wife, Rose, Mr. Di Ionno is survived by two daughters, Angela Barens of Spring Lake Heights and Susan Lalji (Kailash) also of Spring Lake Heights, daughter-in-law Laura Di Ionno of Annapolis, Md., and sons, Mark Di Ionno of Mountain Lakes and John Di Ionno of Springfield. Mr. Di Ionno was predeceased by his oldest son, A. Paul Di Ionno, who passed away in August, 2014.

Mr. Di Ionno is also survived by eight Di Ionno grandchildren: Christopher, Anthony, Michelle, Michael, Stephanie, Matthew, Mark and Laura, and three great-grandchildren, Paul, Teddy and Luca, and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at O’Brien Funeral Home, 2028 State Highway 35, Wall Township, N.J. A remembrance and prayer service will begin at 7:15 p.m.

The funeral Mass will be held at St. Catharine’s Church, 215 Essex Ave., Spring Lake on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to American Legion Post 432, P.O. Box 109, Spring Lake, N.J. 07762.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 | 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    O'Brien Funeral Home - Wall
    2028 NJ-35
    WALL, NJ 07719
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 | 10:30am
    Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 10:30am
    St. Catharine's Church
    215 Essex Avenue
    SPRING LAKE, NJ 07762
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Parish Priest


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AAldona Skrypa

Posted at 09:18pm
Aldona Skrypa: I met Tony at Lucy D. Anthony School, Madison-NJ, when I came there as a 6th grade teacher. We had adjoining classrooms. Not having had the experience of student teaching, I learned a great deal from Tony!

Gioacchino aj Patuto,MD

Posted at 09:02pm
You will Be Missed, Tony. Love to you Rose and the Family.
Lidia, Carmela and Jackie Patuto

Gioacchino aj Patuto,MD

Posted at 09:00pm

Bob DiIonno

Posted at 07:32pm
My condolences to the entire DiIonno Family, you are in our prayers in this difficult time.
Bob DiIonno

Joy Calabrese

Posted at 11:04am
Tony and Rose would come into our corner newspaper store for papers and a stogie. She was always by his side. They were so funny, kind and friendly. I also saw them together at Mass. a beautiful couple. A good man. My condolences.

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