Obituary of Michael D'Andrea
D'Andrea, Michael, A. age 72, of Waretown, formerly of Norwood, West Paterson and Palisades Park, on Saturday June 29, 2019. A graduate of Montclair State University. Before retiring in 2004 he was a Music Teacher, Band Director, Choir Director and Wrestling Coach for the Palisades Park School District.
Beloved husband of Nancy D'Andrea (nee: De Biase). Devoted father of Suzanne Giannetti and her husband Joseph, Matthew and Lucy, Michael and his wife Maria and Stephen and his wife Samantha. Cherished grandfather of Christina, Adriana, Taylor and Levi.
The family will receive their friends on Wednesday 4-7 pm at the
The Following Eulogies were offered at the Memorial Service on Wednesdya July 3, 2019
Eulogy Offered by his daughter Suzanne Giannetti
Thank you all for coming. Over the last couple of days we have been reading the numerous comments and remarks so many of you have made. Many have brought happy memories and made us laugh. Others have shared stories that hit home about how he treated those who needed someone that cared
My Dad had such an infectious smile. He was so warm and caring and had open arms for all who encountered him. He loved to joke all the time. Whether it was a line of …knock- knock, who’s there, or a line of …. A man walked into the bar, or even a phrase of…. What do you call a….. he made us smile and laugh. Even during the last days he was cracking a joke to ease us all. In the hospital one of the nurses had asked which of the four of us was oldest. She thought it was Matt. I said yes he is the oldest of the boys but I am the oldest: my Dad’s response was at least I got one right, which in turn I then said well why did you keep going?
He did keep going! Throughout our lives we have been fortunate to have witnessed our father’s greatness. No matter who, what , or where, he was there. Within his lifelong career of teaching, mentoring, and coaching he never stopped caring. Watching his children grow up and embracing so many in the community, he never stopped loving. It is an honor to be able to share today with all of you the D’Andrea household lessons. My Dad lived his life to the fullest. He always lived by three of four quotes that ultimately gave us then and gives us now the strength to be strong and who we are.
Dads first lesson is a song. Matt clearly remembers Dad’s participation in football. He shared with me my Dad always played “Eye of the Tiger”. He really loved his Rock movies. I share with you Matt that Dad says you are a fighter. You have gone through many obstacles and have come out stronger and wiser. He appreciates your fight and loved your free spirit. He had his own way of acknowledging your accomplishments and triumphs and wishes you nothing more than love and continued success. Whether it’s in your passion of landscape or cars, he is proud of you as his son. Keep on fighting. I am sure he will be riding in style in his new journey. Every time you take a ride think of his love of his Vettes and take in all that the day offers.
The next lesson is a quote: beware of the lollipop of mediocrity for if you lick once you’ll suck forever. I share this with you Mike for he is proud of your athleticism and genuine talent in sports. He admired your leadership and ability to focus your efforts to achieve your goals. No matter football, wrestling, or baseball he lived to watch you shine. He will forever watch you shine as you pass these extraordinary traits to your beautiful girls Christina and Adriana and enjoy the same moments of happiness he witnesses with you in your children. He loved your soft spoken nature and will enjoy watching you be the amazing man, father, and brother you have become in whatever comes your way next.
A third lesson resonates with this quote: “Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at.” I share this with you Steve, his left hand man. Along with Mike in your years in high school sports, he admired your great achievements. Dad always spoke about your inner strength and intellect as you were very calculated and precise in your ways. As Dad was meticulous and exact in his measures, you are too, and recognize flexibility and room for error. For we only grow through making mistakes and learning from failure. Your greatest accomplishments are your children. Taylor and Levi. He sure loved to hear them sing and play. He will watch over you and is awaiting new beats and harmony for his favorite chorus.
For my Mom, I feel that this quote: “Life is not a dress rehearsal” is perfect for your 47 years of marriage. You are his best friend and loves of his life. Having four kids that did not come with instructions was the best show he ever attended. He loved every single second in your adventures all over the world, yet his favorite trips were the quiet ones with you. He wanted to protect you yet he knew your level of strength. He never doubted your love and always shared with us that you better like the person you spend forever with. He is forever with you in our hearts and in yours. He will come and share with you in many ways the peace and happiness he has found and empower you to move forward finding new shows and to share with him.
One last lesson is from me Dad. Your daughter. I will always remember the times I climbed on yur lap and found comfort. You were always my one and only man I loved. Much like you I will carry forth your love and dedication in my teachings. I became a teacher because of you. I will always cherish the conversations we shared even when they were difficult to hear. I am listening now and I hope you are too. And I quote I love you Dad, you are the notes and sounds that fill my days. You are the lyrics that I will follow today, tomorrow, and the next. You are forever my very own music man. Rest in Peace now Dad. Fly with the angels and watch over us from above.
Eulogy given by Frank Patti (Former Student, Wrestler and Friend)
Michael D’Andrea wore many hats. First and foremost he was a husband and father who treasured his wife and children.
He was a musician with extreme talent rarely found who dedicated his life to sharing that talent with the world.
He was a teacher who found new talent that he could develop so that his gift and his music could be spread ten fold. Yes Michael’s music has touched many through his own hands and through the hands of those that he taught and inspired.
He was a coach, in every sense of the word. Through discipline, courage and love he motivated beyond what would be expected from most. He spent his practices on the mat, sweating and pushing us to the breaking point. He never gave up and literally battled with us until somebody gave in. He spent off matt hours during the season dieting with us, something we all know he hated. But again, he never gave up and we cut those pounds together. He transformed during the season, in many ways, and looked forward to that transformation each year.
Yes some called him Micheal, Mike, Big Mike, Dad, Mr. D, I even read a facebook post that called him Mikey Bag of Donuts, which was one I had never heard before. But to most of his Pal Park boys he was “D”. He didn’t need anymore than that just “D”. For out of all the men you may know whose name started with that letter no one could be more magnanimous or perhaps notorious than “D”. If you said “D” or referred to “D” everyone knew exactly who you were speaking of without question.
“D” made his prescience known. When he entered the room you knew he was there. That was not because of his size or stature, it was because of his personality. It was because more often than not we knew he was coming, everyone wanted to be around him, and yes more than likely he was late. “D” commanded attention. From my first memories of Lindbergh School, before I knew him, I thought who was this somewhat scarey guy who would blast out a whistle louder than a train to get your attention. To this day I have never heard anyone whistle louder. Many tried but no one could whistle louder than “D”.
The truth was he was far from scarey. He was one of the most gentle, kind, loving men that I have ever known. He was the definition of a “gentle giant”. I found this out in first or second grade when we chased after me when I was too young to understand he was teasing me. Something I soon became accustomed to on a regular basis. Yes, “D” could push your buttons, but that was only because he cared and in the end he would always let you know how much he loved and cared for you. That day was the defining moment in our relationship that he would remind me of for the rest of our lives and the start of a beautiful friendship that lasted for over 40 years.
I was not unique, I was one of many, many students and athletes who he naturally went above and beyond for. Yes, there were some of us who may have been his favorites…… That’s very true. But it is also true to say that no matter what, if you were a student in Palisades Park he touched your life, someway, somehow , in a positive manner.
We learned many things from “D”. He would come up with his random thoughts for the time and share and focus on them. He once told me there is no “right” or “wrong” just look at it as left and right and try to be somewhere in the middle. Always shake hands firmly or the other guy might get the upper hand. Practice, whether it was an instrument, a sport, a passion you had, practice , practice, practice. Don’t get mad, get even and then keep them guessing. Don’t worry so much about things you can’t change but change the things you can. Love, laugh and eat.
“D” once told me don’t ask Why? Ask Why Not? When people suggested it could not be done, “D” was the king of “Why Not”. I can’t play that song, Why Not? I can’t make weight, Why Not? I can’t Roadie for you this weekend WHY NOT???
If you had an idea and doubted, he would find out everything he could about that idea to nurture and encourage it. He would buy random gifts to help you on your way and to help you succeed and achieve your dream.
“D” introduced many of us to Little Italy, S.P.Q.R. , Chartreuse, and a sketchy Chinese restaurant in a China Town basement, because he claimed they made the best MOO GOO GIAPAN.
“D” would pick up and go anywhere at the drop of a hat, packing tens of kids into his Brown Van. Whether it was an impromptu wrestling tournament, a quick trip back to P.E.E.C., a concert, White Castles at the end of the night, or a trip to Florida in a moment’s notice to pack up his condo, yes we did that. When the idea seemed plausible, or if it involved fun or food, “D” was going to make it happen.
“D” was the easiest person in the world to talk to. He was a great listener and generally preached that people should be better listeners. On behalf of all of “D”’s boys I will apologize now to Nancy and the kids for calling at all hours of the night with a problem or simply to play a practical joke because we knew he would come running. He would listen and listen and then listen some more. I’m not really sure if he was offering advice or helping you come to your own conclusions but generally the conversation ended with, “Well, you know what you have to do, so go do it.”
Of everything that I can say and will miss about “D”, most of all I will miss the laughter. “D” had a laugh that was contagious. He would literally laugh until he cried and it just would not stop. Just when you thought you composed yourself he would start again and the laughter never stopped. Perhaps that is why he was loved by so many, he simply brought joy to your life. He made you have fun in the moment, whether you wanted to or not.
There is not enough time to express how much he meant to all of us, and if I were able to say that to him now, I am sure he would say, “why not”. So I will close with this, it has been said that, “We never stand so tall as when we stoop to help a child.” No one, in my mind, stood taller than “D”
Love, Laugh and eat . Rest in peace “D”. I will miss you my friend.
My memories of Mike (Eulogy given by Michael's friend Mark Wright)
I met Mike in 1952, in Mrs. Jungen’s kindergarten class when we were both 5 years old. And, incidentally, it DOESN’T seem like yesterday! Two years later we both started taking music lessons, Mike on violin and me on piano. Two years later, in fourth grade, we started making music together as the 2 piece orchestra for Mrs. Neary’s weekly assemblies at Central Blvd. School. We played old marches which Mrs. Neary gave us from her childhood piano lessons so some of them were from about 1904. We continued to play together even entertaining at the retirement dinner of Mr. Fuchs, the superintendent of Palisades Park when were in 5th or 6th grade. (I almost said, “You’ll have to ask Mike)
We had other things in common. We liked to eat. Too much! Our moms were good cooks. Our families met socially at each other’s houses but more in mine where we had a piano and Mike and I could play his mom’s favorite songs, particularly “Fascination.” Eventually we even played for the Junior High Graduation as freshmen. We learned the Mendelssohn “War March” and I was given the sheet music that had been used since the 1940’s or before. Our music kept us together.
In high school Mike told Mr. LoRusso that I could play and as a first year student I took over accompanying the school chorus for a performance of the Vivaldi “Gloria.” Mike sang the baritone solos. The chorus rehearsed at night because the school never scheduled chorus as a subject. We also took Italian together in Cliffside Park High School .
Mike sang at my church as a soloist. I played at his for various programs. He sang at my brother’s wedding and I played for his in St. Michael’s in Palisades Park in 1972.
No matter which house it was, first in Teaneck, then in Norwood, then in West Paterson and finally in Whiting……Mike and Nancy and their wonderful kids always made me feel at home. I loved spending about an hour on Christmas Eve with them between playing two services. Mike loved being a host. When you entered their house, you were FAMILY. Invariably, everywhere, we always made music.
When you make music together you come together in a unique way that has nothing to do with words or ideas. If you really click musically, you eventually have to breathe together to make ONE sound together. Even in fourth grade we knew instinctively that we could perform together. We FELT MUSIC the same way. We understood how to phrase without talking about it. That never left us. Years later, when Mike could no longer hold the violin we could look at each other and know that another musician “had it” or didn’t. He brought over so many of his gifted students for me to hear and I knew why he recognized their gifts.
Mike lived larger than I did. I envied that about him. He threw himself fully into things. Mike LOVED being a BIG MAN but not a BIG MAN who steps on others but rather, a BIG MAN with A BIG HUG for everyone. A BIG MAN with a BIG HEART. I will miss him for the rest of my life. I will miss his intelligence, particularly about musical issues. I will miss his look when I got close to his magnificent piano. He would usually say nothing but simply shake his head “yes” meaning that I knew he wanted me to play one of his favorites written by another BIG MAN….Fats Waller. “Black and Blue.” So I will end with it using the language we knew and loved best.
Eulogy Presented by Longtime Friend and Colleague
Dr. John Muciaccia
I first met Mike D’Andrea in September of 1972 when I was a newly appointed member of the faculty at Palisades Park High School. Mike was an established faculty member and he wanted to meet and get to know me.
We had lunch at a diner on Commercial Avenue in the town and all Mike talked about was his wife, Nancy, and his children, Suzie, Matt, Stephen and Michael, Jr. He told me that Nancy was "the wind beneath his wings".
This was a 90 minute lunch, at the end of which I knew his family intimately.
That lunch began what turned out to be the beginning of a 50-year friendship. For the next 25 years I spent Christmas Eve with Mike and his family: Nancy, his mom Rita, the Children, Aunt Rose and Ron & Lee and their Lovely girls, Cara and Erica, Mark Wright and myself. When Mike D' Andrea befriended you, he befriended you. There was never an uncertainty about whether Mike D'Andrea was your friend!
During those 50 years of friendship, Mike and I never had a bad word between us. In fact, we always supported one another in all positive things we did.
Mike was a big supporter of my "FAMOUS PEOPLE PROGRAM" For example, Mike helped me with musical guest, Harry Connick, Jr. by making certain that the piano was tuned and ready for Harry to play the three songs he performed for us, and helped me with NYPD Officer Stephen Mc Donald. Mike stood next to me during Stephen's appearance and Mike said to me, "Doc, this man gave up everything to get everything." Mike and I both cried at Stephen's words of forgiveness towards the 15 year old who had shot and wounded him.
Chris Tarallo paid Mike a wonderful tribute on Facebook which much be mentioned here with thanks. Chris remembers how lovingly Mike helped him during an illness. Chris recovered and gave Mike much credit for that recovery.
A month before his passing, Mike called me and asked if I had read a book entitled "The Dash - Making a difference with your life." For Mike D'Andrea the "Dash" was the time between 1947, when he was born and 2019, when he passed to Spirit. Mike D'Andrea made a big difference in the lives of 1000's of people, including mine. For that I shall be forever grateful.
Thank you, Mike, God bless you.