Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Mentor to Paterson Firefighters Dies at 75

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Mentor to Paterson Firefighters Dies at 75

Article excerpt

Joseph L. Pellegrino of Milford, Pa., a retired Paterson Fire Department deputy chief and mentor to a generation of that city's firefighters, died Tuesday at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

He was 75.

"He was my rock," said his wife, Carolyn Pellegrino, 73. Wednesday was the couple's 53rd anniversary. "We are devastated."

In his own way, Mr. Pellegrino was also a rock to others.

Nurses at Morristown Memorial came in on their day off to check on him, his wife said. "It usually doesn't happen," his wife said. "That's how he affected them."

And he was a rock to firefighters, she said.

"He helped everybody, he helped all the firemen, the EMTs, helped them get promotions, helped everybody," Carolyn Pellegrino said.

Besides his long career in the Fire Department, Mr. Pellegrino had also been a broker. He retired as vice president of investments at Oppenheimer Co., Wayne, in 2006.

Mr. Pellegrino's graying hair and tinted glasses gave him a grandfatherly look, but the appearance was deceiving. Over the years, he earned the nickname "General-Alarm Joe" for all the big fires his tour caught.

"You are not going to replace a guy like Joe Pellegrino," said Marty Perrone, 64, of West Milford, who retired from the department with Mr. Pellegrino in 2002. "He was like a father to me, a brother. There was no better boss."

Perrone recalled a two-alarm fire where he rushed into a house, came back out and complained about a burned neck. Mr. Pellegrino threw a bottle of water on his neck, and blurted, "You're OK, go back in."

Norman Morley and Mr. Pellegrino rose through the ranks together. "He was one of those studious guys, into the books, and he really loved the Fire Department," said Morley, 73, of Wayne, who retired in 2003. "Joe was always a gentleman."

Although he had been a member of the Paterson department for 39 years, Mr. …

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