Obituary of Peter Anthony Antonellis
Peter A. Antonellis, a longtime resident of Fairfield, died Friday, October 16, 2020 at St. Clare's Hospital in Denville. He was 91.
Pete was born and raised on the west side of Manhattan during the Great Depression. While still in high school, he worked full-time to help support his family after his father died and while his brothers fought overseas in World War II. After Peter served honorably in the National Guard as an Army Field Artillery Officer under the 42nd Infantry "Rainbow" Division, earning hte rank of Second Lietenant where one of his primary duties was working as a machinist apprentice at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Marrying Rosina "Rose" Giulietti in1952, the couple lived in the city briefly before moving to New Jersey, and lived in Passaic for a short time before settling in East Paterson to raise their three sons.
In 1953, Pete was hired as a tool and die maker by the Bendix Corporation in Teterboro. There he not only excelled as an "expert" in apprentice training and industrial safety, but also as an active Trade Unionist in UAW Local 153. Over the next twenty years, Pete would serve in many positions, and was elected and re-elected to the positions of Skilled Trades Steward, Chief Steward, Committeeman and Bargain Committee Chairman. Regardless of the position he held, the lives and rights of the people he fought for were what mattered most.
In 1974, Pete was appointed as a UAW International Representative for Region 9. Pete continued the work of the Union, and he organized job actions, bargained contracts, and argued grievances. Additionally, knowing the importance of mentoring and education, he coordinated and taught classes at many UAW summer institutes, including Penn State, Alfred State, Cornell, the Rutgers Union Labor Academy and the UAW Fellowship Training in Black Lake, Michigan.
Pete believed Unionism and worker advocacy were not just things to be done while on the job, they were to be actively lived. He routinely involved his family, and would often bring his children to Union meetings. In the 1980s, Pete was appointed Region 9 UAW Area Director for New Jersey, and later, Assistant Regional Director of Region 9. He also served as Vice President of the Botto House, American Labor Museum; Vice President of the Industrial Union Council of New Jersey, a board member of Region 9 UAW Housing Corporation, and as a member of President Carter's Commission on the Future.
After retiring from the UAW in 1994, he continued on to his second career with the Region 9 UAW Housing Corporation (RNHC). Under his direction, the RNHC became a model employer and has maintained the highest quality of affordable housing, as well as being a progressive member of the community. He continued working to the end of his life doing all he could to best serve the RNHC. In 2012, the RNHC honorably named their East Orange property the Peter Antonellis Towers -- a testament to his years of dedication to the Corporation's mission.
Pete and his wife Rose enjoyed 60 years of marriage before her passing in 2012. After leaving East Paterson in 1977, the couple moved to Fairfield. On his rare days off, Pete enjoyed golfing with friends, and would keep busy with the Sunday New York Times' crossword puzzles. Though Rose didn't like to fly, they were able to explore the states by driving, and in 2015, Pete enjoyed a trip to Italy with his son to visit family.
Pete is lovingly survived by his sons Joseph, Peter and Daniel; his daughter-in-law, Sandra; his grandchildren, Brittany, Peter, Erin, Alicia and her husband Domingo, Danielle, and Santo; three great-grandchildren; Francesca, Elia and Donato; and his sister, Mary Thornton. He was predeceased by his wife, Rosina; and his siblings, Anthony Antonellis, Donato Antonellis, and Lucille Piselli.
Visiting hours will be Tuesday from 4-8 pm at the funeral home. A funeral Mass will be held 10 am Wednesday at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church, Pompton Plains. Burial will follow at Maryrest Cemetery, Mahwah.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Orphan Sponsorship International would be greatly appreciated by the Antonellis family.
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