Angelo Piro, 87, was a Korean War veteran, a longtime newspaper pressman, and a fixture of Staten Island’s community theater scene.
To my husband, Andrew, he was "Poppy." And considering how long Andrew and I have been together, he was Poppy to me, too.
He died Monday on Staten Island, of complications of the coronavirus.
We bonded over newspapers -- an industry he’d spent his career working in, on the printing side, much of it at the New York Post. He was active in the pressman's union, and as I cycled through jobs at several city newspapers, he’d tease me about the labor politics of each paper’s pressroom. He always kept up with what I was writing and, when I moved to NY1 last year, he tuned in.
He was charismatic, charming and generous. He loved taking his grandchildren out for breakfast at the Colonnade Diner on Staten Island, and handing out scratch-off lottery tickets to everyone gathered around the table at every family dinner or holiday gathering. He was a whole lot of fun to be around.
Born in Manhattan, he was a graduate of Seward Park High School. He served as a military airman with the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1955, and was stationed at the air base in Pusan, Korea, as a supply specialist. He attended weekly meetings for veterans throughout his life, and was always wearing a Korean War veteran baseball cap.
He returned home from Korea and, in 1958, married his wife, Concetta. They settled in the Dongan Hills neighborhood of Staten Island to raise their family. He worked as a pressman for the late newspaper the Journal American and, after it shuttered in 1966, he moved on to the New York Post. He was a proud and active member of the NY Newspaper Pressmen’s Union, holding leadership positions in the organization throughout his career.
He was a devoted husband, and he his wife loved to splurge on a fine dining meal in Manhattan once a year. He enjoyed being around his family and friends -- catching movies on weekends, dining out, and having card games. He was known to lead a group in song, or serenade you with a Tony Bennett number.
He was very active in his parish, St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, where he was a past president of the Father's Club and a longtime softball coach. He later volunteered at the church's school, selling snacks at lunchtime and supervising the school yard. He also volunteered his time at hospice care at Staten Island University Hospital, and was honored several times for his volunteer work.
He was also a fixture in Staten Island’s community theater scene, appearing in many plays. His favorite role was playing Officer Krupke in a production of West Side Story. He was a member of the North Shore YMCA, where he enjoyed water aerobics, was a member of the Glee Club, and played cards with friends.
Like hundreds of families around the city, we won’t be able to gather for a funeral mass or a wake, or even just to sit around a dining room table and tell stories, laugh and cry. It makes the loss even more difficult. But a funeral mass and celebration of his life will be held at a later date, when we can all be together again.