John Amos Cendali, a long-time resident of Greenburgh, NY for more than 60 years, passed away at the home he built on Sunday afternoon, May 17, 2020, at 94 due to dysphagia, a complication of dementia. The family takes comfort in knowing that until recent months he was still able to visit his children’s homes and enjoy his grandchildren and that he passed away surrounded by his family with love.
Born on April 11, 1926, to John Amos Cendali Sr. and Amelia Persani, John had a happy, adventurous childhood growing up in the Westchester Square area of the Bronx with his parents, his beloved grandmother, and sisters Dorothy and Doris. He learned to sail small boats at City Island and was given initial training in electronics from his father, a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3. After graduation from Christopher Columbus HS, John enlisted in the US Navy in 1944 as soon as he turned 18 for a three-year term. He rose to be an Aviation Electronics Mate 2nd Class and worked on various Navy aircraft. During his service, he discovered a serious flaw in the electrical system of one of the Navy's planes that caused the engines to overheat and the planes to crash. He devised a solution and was granted a meritorious promotion.
He met the love of his life, Eleanor Cendali (née Avacato), in kindergarten. They began dating in high school and married in 1948 after John returned from the Navy and Eleanor graduated from Hunter College. Like his father, John became an IBEW Local 3 electrician. John was proud that he was a Local 3 member for over 70 years. He also earned a BS from Pratt Institute and joined CCNY in the 1950’s, initially as Chief Electrician, and later as the Administrative Superintendent of Building and Grounds. He had close camaraderie with his men and happy stories of pancake holiday breakfasts.
John and Eleanor moved to Westchester in 1959 after the first stage of the house he designed was completed. They loved their close-knit community of neighbors, frequently having pool parties at their home. John continued his adventurous spirit, becoming a scuba diver, skydiver, golfer and private pilot. He would fly over their house in his Piper Cub and waggle the wings as a token of love for Eleanor. Eventually, John devoted most of his spare time to sailing his boat, Fortuna, with his family and friends. John was a devoted member of the Tarrytown Boat & Yacht Club for almost 50 years. He was also a life-long Yankees fan.
Family was the center of John’s life. He and Eleanor had three grateful children, Jean, a recently retired beloved long-time art teacher at Haldane School and his frequent sailing buddy, Dale, a graduate of Yale and Harvard and a prominent IP lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis LLP who he got to see argue before the US Supreme Court, and John Cendali III, who following in his dad’s footsteps (in vocation, looks and family focus), also became a proud member of IBEW Local 3. After John retired from City College and Eleanor retired from her decades of teaching English at Evander Childs HS, they spent their retirement dedicated to their children and grandchildren. Their three grandchildren by their daughter Dale, are John Thomas Fitzpatrick, Lucy Margaret Fitzpatrick and Eleanor Jean Fitzpatrick and their grandson by their son John, is Christopher John Cendali. The two grandsons were in part named John after him. They visited their grandchildren every day when they were little and Sunday dinners and fun family vacations were the norm. John was extraordinarily close to his grandchildren and attended all manner of kids’ sporting events, plays and graduations and assisted his grandson, JT, in earning one of his Eagle Scout badges, the Electronics Badge.
John’s beloved wife, Eleanor, passed away in 2011 after almost 63 years of marriage due to lung cancer despite being a non-smoker. John was selflessly by her side the whole time, frequently sleeping at the hospital. He was also predeceased by his sister Dorothy D'Emilia. In addition to his children and grandchildren, John is survived by his sister, Doris Puglia, and his nephews and nieces, who he loved so much.
Due to the global pandemic, there will be no traditional funeral. There will be a virtual memorial service in a few weeks for family and friends. Please inquire of the family for details. Prior to that he will be interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY in a small private family ceremony. He will be next to his beloved wife Eleanor so that they can be together forever.
Cards, stories and photos are appreciated. In lieu of flowers, memorials in John’s name for supporting research of dysphagia at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center may be made online at www.adrc.wisc.edu/give or mailed to University of Wisconsin Foundation, U.S. Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807. Dysphagia is little-known but all too common fatal condition, especially in older people like John. The Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is one of the very few centers doing research looking for a cure for dysphagia.