birthday is June 13th. There will not be a national holiday or even a parade. But there will probably
be more loving thoughts of him on this day than usual, by his children and grandchildren, other living family members, and his friends.
exceptional individual, Mike Azzolino was a son, husband, brother, friend, father, grandfather, guidance counselor, administrator, professional
organization officer, tour business pioneer and company founder.
he lead an ordinary life -- high school, work and part-time work, WWII service, the GI Bill and
college, marriage and houses, father, grandfather, and professional recognitions -- he always
excelled in any role or job he had.
died on January 20th, 2009. He died before the Vinik Marine tug
MIKE AZZOLINO could be dedicated to him. At the time of planned dedication, the page
Michael Anthony Azzolino was written. This page mimics the dedication page, but, where that page is more a list of achievements,
this page is more a story, some recognitions of influences on his life. It includes pictures, of the life Mike Azzolino.
(Click on pictures to see enlargements.) The page is written now because I think his
Dorothy Azzolino would probably have wanted it to be written.
101 Central Avenue, Lodi, NJ
born in Jersey City, Mike grew up in Lodi, NJ. He was the middle son of
Nick and Agnes Azzolino. Anne (Sebastianna) was their oldest child, then Tony, Mike, Mary, and Joe. See:
1940 Census and
mother Agnes was born in Italy while her family was on a vacation. Mike's father was Italian and
immigrated to the US, probably through Boston.
Cinema was born in Fort Lee, NJ, but after WWI movie companies moved to California for cheaper costs and "sun" which originally lit the
movie stidios. Nick worked in a company which was moving west, but Agnes wanted to stay in NJ. So, Nick and Agnes stayed in NJ.
was an Executive Secretary in NYC then owned a dress shop in Lodi. Nick owned
Bergen Films also in Lodi.
and Mike were in high school at the same time. Mike had suffered an eye injury and was blind in one eye. The times were different then,
think "cripple" rather than "handicapped" or "disabled." The school would not let Mike play on the basket ball team because he was crippled, so,
Mike managed the basket ball team. Tony and Mike also worked with father Nick at Bergen Films.
did Mike excel? He graduated high school a year early!
In their early twenties,
Mike and Tony each also had another job. Tony was a silk examiner , probably in Paterson, NJ, "Silk City."
Mike was a cashier at the grocery store Packard Bambergers, in Hackensack, NJ.
Bergen Films was a pivotal part of the brothers' lives.
Bergen Film Laboratories, 103 Union Street, Lodi, NJ
Nick Azzolino owned
BERGEN Film Laboratories,
103 Union Street, Lodi, NJ. All Nick's sons -
Tony, Mike & Joe (
labeled) worked there with other technicians.
copied and distributed cartoons, shot and processed still photographs, but specialized in "8-16mm motion pictures."
cartoon strips, strips of film, stored on reels, saved in flat circular cans, had to be
(labeled) first in tins then in cardboard boxes, then shipped to clients. Bergen Films specialized in "Snappy" cartoons? (like
these and this
Mike & Joe (
labeled) some times worked in the same room on different projects.
loading a projector. The film spool (reel) had to be loaded on the top arm of the projector and then manually run through a maze of gears
and sprockets towards a position in front of a powerful lamp and lens. In this position the image on the film was "projected" onto
a special screen a distance from the projector. The images was focused using the special lens. The sound of the film was stored on two
coded bars on the side of the film and a speaker system was need to play aloud the dialogue and music. As the film was projected, it was
run onto a bottom arm containing a pick-up reel to re-spool the film. Before you could replay the film, the film had to unspooled and run
backwards onto the original top arm spool (into its original position) bypassing all the sprockets and gears so as not to damage the film.
was the photographer of both photos and movies. His movie camera is shown here:
inside. Tony shot and filmed
weddings (here is the Pedavillano Wedding), and often his family members were
subjects of his work.
shot films and worked at the Lab itself. He also was the contact person for the clients.
World War II, Africa, Italy
Mike lost the sight in 1 eye in childhood, he was drafted.
was also drafted. The
brothers served in the
Army Air Force (later named the US Air Force). Tony was assigned to Supply? Mike was assignd to the
Signal Corps and learned to read Morse Code at 40? words per minute -- the highest rate in his class. Yes, he excelled.
oth brothers went overseas. Mike’s ship was in a convoy that headed to Africa, but his ship was quarantined
and had to remain in Africa for a number of months more than the rest of the convoy. In Africa, rations were not easy to come by,
so local foods were introduced into the menu. In fact, they subsisted on what local farmers could provide. The only meat available
was lamb. The 1945 quarantine was Mike’s introduction to lamb. The next time he ate lamb was in 2002 when he was celebrating
his granddaughter Julie’s college graduations. Just one taste was enough. He never ate lamb again.
brothers were in Italy and for at least some time were in contact with each other.
was made Staff Sergeant. This is maybe not exceptional, but it is at least rare. How many one-eyed staff sergeants have you heard of?
was prohibited from officer candidate school because he had only one eye. Not a surprise.
He was the ONLY (as in he really, really excelled) non-commissioned officer to head an army base!
though Mike was only a one-eyed staff sergeants non-commissioned officer he still headed an army base AND he was excelled in that
role. Yeah, prove it. No problem. SHOWERS! He built showers for his men. No other US Army base in once
enemy territory in WWII Europe did this!
· Staff Sergeant Azzolino's father Nick was Italian.
· He had taught the Staff Sergeant to read and write Italian.
· Father Nick still had relatives in Italy where Staff Sergeant Azzolino was the head of a US Army base.
· One of Staff Sergeant Azzolino's fathers brothers
was a very good, yes, excellent, mason & contractor who kneew the region and where to get good help
and he was living in Italy. His name was
Zippa Pina, Uncle Joe.
· Staff Sergeant Azzolino's brother Tony was also serving in the US Army in Italy and he was in a Supply Division.
· Staff Sergeant Azzolino, Mike, had the authority, the manpower, the expert Zippa Pina, the jeep to transport the materials he needed to obtain from Army Supply, and he had the vision to build the showers.
Post WWII, The GI Bill, Family and Careers
Films, the GI Bill, and family all shaped the futures of these returning GI brothers.
Mary, and Joe all married and had children. Anne's son Sal died in a car accident after he went to college, graduated,
and became a much loved art teacher in Hackensack HS.
Mary & Joe had grandchildren and I believe great grandcholdren. Joe went to college at the same time Mike was in college.
Joe graduated with a degree in chemistry and later started a business which is now run by two of his three sons. Mike and
Tony also married
continuing with stories on Tony & Mike. There are a few quizzes. Click on an image to see the answer.
Use this picture as the cheat sheet & then the last quiz question.
1. Name the
partiarch & matriarch of the family.
when/where the picture was taken?
Who are they and how are they related?
Who are they and how are they related?
Who are they, where or when was the picture taken?
6. Enough. Who are they and how are they related? Click on the picture below and figure out answers.
As a reward here are more pictures.
After the War, Mike's & Tony's paths diverged, but not completely.
Mike went to college, married, and went into teaching. Tony went into business, lighting, and real estate.
Anthony (Tony) Azzolino
Tony Azzolino is well worthy of a page all his own.
He is included here because of the impact he had on his entire
family, on his brother Mike, and on Mike's famiy.
counseled and watched over his family and assisted and gifted them in many ways. He gave his siblings land for their houses,
sold Mike his Lake Swanannoa house because Mike's family had grown and needed more room,
later found Mike another home closer to work and with better schools, got Kippy a job lighting for CBS, and gave substantial inheritances
to 15 neices and nephews.
Tony visited brother Mike's house, he played number guessing games with his neices and nephews designed to put quarters in tiny hands.
loved this family - parents, siblings and their spouces and their children and grandchildren AND THEY LOVED HIM BACK.
did many things in his life. He was a successful entrepeneur. He at one time owned a bar, had at one time owned 2 houses in NJ,
and 2 houses in Florida, in addition to other houses he sold. Tony even worked as a
US Census Taker. His obituary was in the New York Times not because of these things but because of his contributions to the
broad casting industry. He was a pioneer in the new television broad casting industry.
The Professional Bowlers Association of America
As An Honorary Lifetime Member
for His Many Contributions
to the Success of the PBA
April 17, 1976
was the Lighting Director for ABC Sports and ABC TV. He light the ABS Pro Bowlers Tour Shows broadcast each Saturday
morning from all over the country. He created the lighting setups that became the industry standards in the new field of
television broadcasting. He worked on Pro Bowler Tour and in 1975 he was recognized by his "friends," at
Ebonite, an organization for Amateur and Professional Bowlers, and Coaches. He was recognized for "his tireless efforts for over 11 years
in making the ABC Pro Bowlers Tour Show so successful. Yes the bowlers recognized him for his efforts in making their show better.
He was a lighting consultant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, spent 40 years setting up
and supervising for ABC's "Wild World of Sports" and the Olympics and earned an A Honorary Liftime Membership in the
PBA and induction to their Hall of Fame.
summer, Tony "lit the world!"
1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics, the XIX Olympiad, were the first olympics held in a Spanish-speaking country. It was a very different world in 1968 than it is now in 2020. Television was a very new, white, male, English-speaking world. Spanish? "No one" spoke that, let alone knew where the Latin-American countries were. The '68 Olympics changed that.
black American metal winners lit up the political scene with raised, black-gloved fists, at their awards ceremony, Tony lit the rest of the Olympics.
was the "best of the best" Lighting Director for ABC, The "best of the best" of the big three US tv companies, ABC, CBS, NBC (because of the ABC Wild World of Sports). He spoke Italian which is similar enough to Spanish, that he could direct the Spanish-speaking tv crews.
moonlighted doing lighting for the Latin-American tv networks. It was extremely tiring but the pay was substantial. So, Tony really "lit the world."
name was known "all over the US" because it was in the credits of the "Pro Bowlers Tour Shows" that aired on Saturday mornings opposite/with "Roy Rogers" and "The Lone Ranger."
Mike's fourth son, Anthony Charles Azzolino, was thought by his school mates to be
"ABC Wild World of Sports" and the "Pro Bowlers Tour Shows" Lighting Director's son. This
was not an unreasonable assumption becuase they lived in Bergen County, NJ, a bedroom community of NYC where their fathers
also worked. The point here is not that young Tony Azzolino was a nephew of Mike's brother Tony, but that Anthony
Azzolino's name was recognized by many and not only those living in Bergen County, NJ.
Tony really worked for ABC Sports. Among other things,
he lit the 1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslovia Olympics. In 1976, ABC Wild World of Sports
recognized him. For this work in the broadcast industry, his obituary was in the New York Times.
below are, his Pro Bowlers Tour Shows award from
Ebonite, Tony with Cis Azzolino receiving thanks from many, Tony on the lanes, lighting a trophy.
Mike Azzolino Weds Dorothy Elizabeth Anne Terlep
most important decision a man can make in his life is choosing a wife. In making this choice Mike excelled.
the war, Mike worked at Bergen Films. On a trip into NYC to see a Bergen Films client, he met Dottie who was working for the client.
You should read her two pages to understand the 60 years of their life together. The pages include his children, grandchildre,
houses, and gatherings, but not his great grandchildren because he did not live to know them.
Mike's Awards, Honors, and Everyday Life
did all sorts of things in his life. Sometimes one thing led to another, sometimes it was a new venture. Sometimes
honors came for years of excellent work or a specific task. Sometimes honors just came with love. Here routine paths have dots.
Awards and honors have stars.
- Member, Phi Zeta Kappa Honorary Scholastic Fraternity, Fairleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck, NJ
- Bachelors in History from Fairleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck, NJ
- Class Salutatorian (graduated second in his class)
IN 3 YEARS, not 4 years, Mike achieved this honor while working full time and having a family.
The validictorian (top scholar) was blind and had tutors. Mike the salutatorian (second highest scholar), was blind in one them.
The top scholars therefore had "one good eye between them."
- Masters in Counseling from Montclair State, Upper Montclair, NJ.
- Some doctoral work at Yeshiva University, NYC.
- Photographing, Teaching, Counseling, Administration
- Printer & Photographer, Pathe News
- Teacher at Lincoln School, Lodi, NJ.
- 6th grade history teacher at Gantner Ave. School. East Paterson, NJ
When Mike started his teaching career in East Paterson, George Miller was his principal. The two men
began a relationship that grew and lasted for years. The men did graduate work together and worked as tour guides for Casser Tours.
When Casser Tours decide to plan a trip to the new state of Alaska, Mike wrote the trip and took the bus
across Canada to Alaska then flew with his group back to NYC. George flew to Alaska with his group and took the bus back to NYC.
- Guidance Counselor at the Gantner Avenue School, East Paterson
- Director of Adult Education, East Paterson, NJ (9/1955)
- Guidance Counselor at East Paterson Memorial HS
- Head Guidance Counselor at East Paterson Memorial HS
- Guidance Counselor at Paramus HS, Paramus, NJ
- Head Guidance Counselor at Paramus HS, Paramus, NJ
During the school year, counselors counsel students and help them select courses for the following year.
During the summer schedules are created for students to follow the next academic year.
The head counselor is charged with creating the master schedule of courses -- the master list of
the times, days, rooms, class capacities for every class, lab, and lunch. Mike had to create 5-day-a-week classes, labs that ran
5 days a week, but with one extra adjacent period so the class included a 2-period lab. For some classes there was only 1 section
of the course -- AP Calculus I for example. No big deal? It can not conflict withe the AP English which had mostly the same students.
Some of them also neded Chinese IV or German IV. Get the idea? Only after the master schedule is created can student
schedules be created, one at a time. It is a many, many man-hour job.
Mike did this job yearly for many years in the days before computers. One year there were 1900
individual schedules to be done because there were 1900 students enrolled.
When computers were "invented" and became more widely used computers were used by
some districts to create the master schedule and then student schedules in order to save money on salaries. Paramus hired
a very successful computer company to do the Paramus HS scheduling. It COULDN'T DO the master schedule! Mike Azzolino
had to do the master schedule AND the hardest of the student schdules!
- Vice-Principal at Paramus HS, Paramus, NJ
A hs vp handles issues beyond the scope/ability of the guidance counselor -- some fights, lunch duty,
expulsions, police matters, complaints against teachers, all the good stuff. It is not an easy job even in good schools.
Paramus Jaycees 1981, Distinguished Service Award: Educator of the Year
Teacher of the Year Awards are given to recognize outstanding teachers.
Never in Paramus, any way, had such a recognition been conferred upon an administrator. For Mike Azzolino the
name of the award had to be changed to Educator of the Year.
- Escorting & Tours
- Escort for Travelcade, NYC
- Wrote tours for Travelcade Tours
- He planned then escorted the FIRST bus tour to Alaska,
It was a 31-day tour from NYC through Canada to Alaska, then
around parts of Alaska with a returned to NYC by plane.
This was really a big deal. It brought tourism to Alaska.
- Received the Key to the City of Anchorage, Alaska.
Mayor George N. Byer the City of Anchorage, Alaska said, "Mike Azzolino, You have pioneered
a great success. This key is a welcome to all future trips.
The Key to the City of Anchorage was last awarded to US President Dwight Eisenhauer.
- Founding President of Group Tours, NJ
- Wrote tours for GROUP TOURS
- Escorted tours for GROUP TOURS
- BCREA & NJREA
- Editor & Reporter, BCREA newsletters
- Treasurer of BCREA
- President (twice) of BCREA
- NJREA Treasurer.
- South Bergen Teachers Federal Credit Union
- Board of Directors Member
- Board of Trustee President
- Hobbies & Interests
- Collecting Currier & Ives
- Polishing stones
- Collecting States Quarters
houses & extensions & walls & patios
Husband & Father
- Exceptional grandfather -- Mike's
grand children at his 45th Wedding Anniversary,
Great Grand Children He Never Met w/ Great Grandma, Halloween 2019
- The tug
MIKE AZZOLINO was renamed in his honor.
The former USCG WYT72, ice-breaker tug the YANKTON was christened the MIKE AZZOLINO.
In 2008, before his death, grandson Michael Vinik, president of Vinik Marine, Keyport, NJ, named
the MIKE AZZOLINO after Mike Azzolino. Says Vinik, "My grandfather has always been a role model to me. This was an appropriate
way to honor him for all he's done."
Michael Anthony Azzolino
of Washington Township, died on January 20th, 2009 at 88.
was an exceptional individual. He excelled as a scholar, printer, photographer, staff sergeant, teacher, guidance counselor,
school administrator, member and professional organization officer, tour business pioneer and company founder -- at every endeavor.
Brett Casser wrote in his funeral
guest book, "He is a great example of how to live your life to the fullest possible extent."
was a son, husband, brother, friend, father, grandfather. Even in these roles he excelled.
are two more pictures to end this story.
Just an ordinary
Christmas in 1999.
Last Christmas in 2008.
Rest in Peace, Mike Azzolino.