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Michael Richard Antolino, Sr., aka “Dick” age 96, of Mahwah, New Jersey, passed away peacefully at his grandson’s home on Tuesday, December 26, 2023. Born and raised in Lodi, New Jersey and a graduate of Lodi High School class of 1944, Dick entered the U.S. Navy right out of high school during wartime.
In the Navy, Dick was stationed on the U.S.S. Tarawa as a Seaman 1st Class Combat Air Crewman trained in Radar Operations. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and with the benefits of the G.I. Bill, went on to Newark College of Engineering, graduating as a Chemical Engineer.
Dick married his high school classmate, Eleanor Peraino in 1948, honeymooned in Niagara Falls and settled in Lodi near his beloved relatives to raise a family. Family was always Dick’s passion.
Dick was an entrepreneur of diverse interests, a characteristic he passed on to his grandson. While studying in college, Dick also drove an oil truck for his Uncle Mike Ferraro, was a painting contractor with his brother-in-law Frank Blanco Sr, and also went door to door with his wife Eleanor, selling Stanley Home Products.
As a chemical engineer and plant process manager, Dick was employed at Okonite Cable Company in Passaic, New Jersey, until he retired with a pension in the late 1980’s. He is named on a U.S. patent for designing an extruding process for coating rubber insulation onto copper cable. Dick was a calculating, professional engineer who loved to use his slide rule but also had an early obsession with his home computer and cable television. He was transferred to Okonite’s North Brunswick plant for a year, moving his family into a new development in East Brunswick and then to the Ramsey Executive offices. After retirement, Dick was retained as an engineering consultant in a plant in York, Pennsylvania where he commuted weekly, making detours to visit his daughter and grandchildren living in South Jersey. Dick loved taking long drives in his Caprice station wagon and later his Lincoln Continental and was never deterred from a planned destination.
Once transferred to Ramsey, Dick and his family settled into a beautiful home on Campgaw Road in Mahwah, where he put his chemical engineering skills to work developing his own mixtures of fertilizers and pesticides for his home “victory” garden which he planted annually by seed, a passion he inherited from his late father, Pasquale Antolino, an immigrant from Italy. In his bountiful garden on Campgaw Road, Dick grew most of the vegetables his wife, children and grandchildren enjoyed at their family meals. Like most Italians, he was particularly proud of his bumper crops of tomatoes and he and Eleanor could always be found standing over the stove in their kitchen overlooking Turner’s Pond in their backyard making their own tomato sauce. Dick was an enthusiastic cook and loved researching a variety of recipes for his family.
Dick and Eleanor were also avid bowlers since high school, and bridge players, hosting several bridge games at their Campgaw home throughout the 50 years they lived there. Dick also enjoyed playing golf, especially at the High Mountain Golf Club in Franklin Lakes. He loved ping pong and chess, games he introduced to his children while living in Saddle Brook in the 1960’s.
When he was born as Michael Antolino, his three older sisters, Gracie, Tessie and Margaret were so thrilled to have a boy in the family, they started calling him “Little Dickie.” So when he made his Confirmation at age twelve, he took the middle name “Richard” but for the rest of his life, to close friends and family, he would always be “Dick.”
Dick resided in Mahwah for his last two years where he was cared for at the home of his grandson Daniel and his wife Jill where his family provided him with loving care and shared many happy memories with his two grandchildren and five great grandsons as well as their many friends who affectionately called him “Grandpa.”
He is pre-deceased by his beloved wife Eleanor and sisters Grace Imparato, Tessie Haschack and Margaret Blanco and survived by children Eileen and Michael Jr, grandchildren Nicole, Daniel, great grandchildren Jordan, Ayden, Jayden, Shane and Dominic and nephews and nieces Frankie, Annette, Michael, Bobby, Tommy, Patricia and Michael.