By Rich Acritelli
Rocky Point High School lost a special employee that held a special place within the staff and student body on March 21.
Patsy Vassallo, of Miller Place, considered his moments within the hallways of this school to be amongst the most gratifying of his life. At 83 years old, Vassallo wore a big smile, where he engaged the young men and women of this school, and he spoke to all the staff members as a calming presence.
Each day, Vassallo was pleased to go to work, where he embraced being a part of the RPHS community. As COVID-19 surely has that tested the roles of administrators, teachers and students, Vassallo was always a warm presence to lighten our atmosphere.
Originally from Bayside, Queens, he started working at the young age of seven, where he learned how to repair footwear in a shoemaker shop. At 17, Vassallo enlisted into the New York Army National Guard where he proudly served in the military for eight years.
For many decades, he held manufacturing engineering positions and was an entrepreneur that owned and operated machine, coffee and shoe businesses. Vassallo was a proponent of education and in his 60s, he taught college level courses as a lecturer of architectural design through the application of software.
Always armed with a “can-do” attitude, Vassallo lived an extremely productive life. This was seen at 77 years old, where he provided customer service at a local hardware store. And when he was not working or spending time with his family, Vassallo was a drummer with his brother Charles who played the saxophone in a wedding band during the 1970s and 80s.
Always known for his energy, athletically, Vassallo was also an avid golfer. One thing was for certain, Vassallo through his many interests was able to speak to every type of person that crossed his path, especially those individuals that were fortunate to see him at his most recent job.
Vassallo’s greatest achievement was his family. He cherished his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He preached the necessity that “family always comes first,” and as the senior patriarch, Vassallo always exclaimed, “I love you to the moon and back.”
In a brief matter of months, Vassallo had a reassuring presence that was welcomed by the staff of Rocky Point High School. Principal John Hart believed that “At the age of 83, Pat quickly became a well-loved member of the High School community and was often referred to as a true gentleman. He proudly arrived early each day, exchanged pleasant conversations with our staff, was detail-oriented, and most importantly respectful and friendly to all those in this building.”
Hart’s secretary, Sheila Grodotzke observed the positive qualities of Vassallo as “loving his job and his reliability in seriously taking his responsibilities. He showed and expressed such fierce pride in his family.”
“I will remember how he beamed with such passion and humbleness when he introduced me to his two grandchildren who attend our high school,” she added. “I truly miss him and never will forget him. May he rest in peace.”
Within these hard times for the Vassallo Family, RPHS wanted to thank these residents for the unique opportunity that our students and staff had in knowing this good man. While his loss has been on hard on his family, they were immensely proud of his many achievements.
Thank you for the daily devotion and affection that Mr. Patsy Vassallo provided to all those that he befriended in this North Shore district.