Two weeks shy of his 100th birthday, Don J. Paradiso passed away in Naples, Florida on January 13, 2018. He was born the fourth of nine children on January 27, 1918 in Queens, New York to Gerardo and Grace (Loguerico) Paradiso, immigrants from Santeramo in Colle in Bari, Italy. On November 28, 1949 he married the former Anne Toto, and together they raised seven sons and one daughter in Mt. Arlington, New Jersey.
As a teenager, Don worked in his family's ice delivery business in Queens, New York and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a tailor. He was a proud combat veteran, serving as a corporal in the Sixth Marine Division, which earned a Presidential Unit Citation for actions in Okinawa. It was while island-hopping with the Marines in the Pacific that Don received his first Holy Communion and Confirmation. After the war, Don continued as a tailor, and was still using his sewing and embroidery machines to make pillows and other items for family and friends well into his 90s. He had a rewarding career as a firefighter, working for 29 years at Picatinny Arsenal, rising to the rank of Fire Chief. Additionally, he was also a locksmith. He and his wife Anne ran a well-loved concession stand for many years at Bertrand Island near Lake Hopatcong.
Don was a faithful member of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mt. Arlington, New Jersey, St. Ann's Catholic Church in Naples, Florida and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Englewood, Florida and served for more than 50 years as a Knight of Columbus, doing numerous charitable works.
A devoted family man, nothing brought him more joy than simply spending time with his loved ones, telling stories, and eating blueberry pancakes with extra blueberry syrup.
Don is survived by his brother Jerry Paradiso and sisters Irene Chernes and Mary Santeramo, and children Gerard (Karen) of St. Augustine, FL; Don (Jane) of Naples, FL; Eugene (Marilyn) of Mt. Arlington, NJ; Joseph of Clinton, NJ; Thomas (Cheryl) of Sparta, NJ; and Grace (Amy) of Los Angeles, CA; 14 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Anne in 2013, his sons Michael and Gregory, and siblings Jean Bonamassa, Dorothy Wilhelm, Michael Paradiso, Rose Paradiso, and Albert Paradiso.
There will be a gathering of family and friends from Noon to 2:30 p.m. with funeral services to follow at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday January 27, 2018 at Lemon Bay Funeral Home, Englewood, Florida. Burial will follow at Gulf Pines Memorial Park in Englewood.