John Henry Pisacano of Mahwah, New Jersey (formerly of Ridgewood, New Jersey) was born into eternal life on Saturday, April 18th. He passed away at the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood due to a stroke. He was 79 years old.
John lived his life appreciating all it had to offer. He loved his family, his friends, watching Jeopardy, cooking, travelling, and all of his many cats throughout the years. Any occasion was reason for a party, and he spared no expense in celebrating the people he treasured. Travelling was one of John’s great passions, and his favorite trips included cruises with his family and friends. These cruises combined his love of travel with his zeal for food. There was a running joke that when on vacation John would plan where to go for lunch and dinner while still eating breakfast.
As much as John got out of life, though, he put in exponentially. In his unassuming way, John lived to deliver joy, to lift people up, and to make dreams come true. He founded his company, J.P. Builders and Contractors, and over his 50 year career John became the gold standard in his industry. His reputation for refined craftsmanship and his ability to discern what people wanted – be it their dream home or small remodel – made him the go-to guy. He was even able to sell a job when he wasn’t planning to, like recently when he went to buy a new car. By the end of his conversation with the car salesman, he was asked to do some work on the man’s house. He was so trusted that people would wait months to make sure they got John. Throughout his career he never once had to advertise because his customers were eager to spread the word on his behalf. More often than not, those customers became life-long friends, and the people who worked for him became part of his extended family.
John took care of others, and in no way was this more evident than when he rescued his sister, Carol, and her three young children from her toxic marriage. He told her that she could live with him until the day she died. His selfless generosity ultimately saved their lives. He took on the role of his nephews’ and niece’s father and helped raise them. True to his word, John took care of his sister throughout her battle with cancer until the day she passed in her bedroom, in their home, 33 years after she first moved in. He became Grandpo John to his niece Amy’s children, Anthony and Jillian, of whom he was so proud. He loved spending any time he could with them, be it listening to Anthony play the trumpet or watching Jillian dance. Most of this time was spent centered around meals like the weekly Sunday dinners that he hosted at his house for years while living in Ridgewood, and then later at Amy’s house or local restaurants. He knew their favorite treats and always brought snacks or desserts that he knew that they would enjoy.
John also tirelessly took care of his partner, Paul, during his long fight with leukemia. Every night after putting in a full day of construction, John would drive to Hackensack Hospital to sit at his bedside. Paul, who was Greek, passed with John at his side on Holy Saturday of the Greek Orthodox Church in 2003. Almost seventeen years later John passed away, also on Holy Saturday.
For all that John gave to others, he expected nothing in return. In fact, he viewed any act of generosity toward him as a gift. Recently, his niece, Amy, took the responsibility of delivering groceries to John and his sister, Regina, who was quarantined with him. In one of their last conversations, Amy told him she would never forget all that he had done for her and her family over the years. He in turn told her that he would never forget these groceries, implying that the two situations were somehow equal.
John never recognized the magnitude of his actions and the far-reaching impact they had on the lives of others. Even if he was struggling, he would always ask how he could help, financially or otherwise. He was thoughtful and generous and charitable. For his last big birthday party he requested people bring donations for the food pantry rather than gifts, and he was thrilled with how much was collected. John loved life and often said he had lived a long life with no regrets. “If I die tomorrow,” he would exclaim, “I will die happy!”
John is preceded in death by his parents, Mabel and Henry Pisacano; his sister, Carol Huebner; his brother-in-law, Lester Kirby; and his life partner Paul Gallis. He is survived by his sister, Regina Kirby; his sister-in-law Ellaine Gallis (Ed); his niece Amy Lalonde (Brian) and their children Anthony and Jillian; nephews Stephen Kirby (Christina) and Thomas Kirby; great nephews, Erik Kirby (Sasha), and Scott Kirby (Candice). He is also survived by many friends, employees, customers, and his beloved cats, Lenny and Lacey.
A celebration of John’s life will be scheduled at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name to the Mt. Sinai Liver Surgery Department where he was treated for liver cancer can be made to R.M.T.I., 1425 Madison Avenue, P.O. Box 1104, NY, NY 10029, attention Carolyn Forman; or the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. 2 Shelter Lane, Oakland, NJ 07436 would be appreciated.
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