Claude DiGenova
Claude DiGenova
Claude DiGenova
Claude DiGenova
Claude DiGenova
Claude DiGenova

Obituary of Claude DiGenova

On September 7, 2018 of Atco, NJ., passed away surrounded by his loving family. Age 81 years. Claude S. DiGenova, born October 7, 1936, son of the late Carolina DeSimone DiGenova and Salvatore DiGenova, died following a brief illness on September 7, 2018. Claude’s parents were Italian immigrants hailing from the town of Montella.  In 1935, the year before Claude’s birth, his parents and sisters Lucy, Filomena and Margaret arrived in New Jersey , starting a new life in Pleasantville.  The next year,   Claude and his twin sister Clara were born.  In the 1940’s the family moved to a home Atlantic City on Arctic Avenue which served as the center of family life for Claude and his sisters for the next thirty years. 

He graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1954.He was the first in his family to go to college, enrolling in Glassboro State College in 1956, graduating in 1960. 

Claude was always a hard worker beginning with his first jobs in grade school as a helper to the local vegetable vendor and as a shoe shine boy in the barbershop of his brother in law Nick Fasola. During the twilight of Atlantic City’s glamour in the 1950’s and 60’s, Claude worked as a busboy and waiter at Atlantic City’s elegant boardwalk hotels.  There is even a creditable story that Claude was one of the local young men to escort Miss America pagent contestants.  After graduating high school, he landed a full time job in the Woolworth’s stock room.  No doubt the prospect of life time of work spent counting inventory at a five and dime spurred young Claude into improving his fortunes and he applied to college in 1956.  He nearly didn’t make it.

He originally applied to Trenton State College, now known as the College of New Jersey, but he was rejected.  Demonstrating an admirable persistence, Claude traveled personally to Trenton State College, met with the Dean of Admissions and demanded to know why he had been rejected.  He was told that his middling High School academic record did not qualify him for admission to Trenton, but  there was hope for him since a new college was expanding at Glassboro State with somewhat more generous admission standards.  And so off he went.    Making the most of his opportunity, Claude excelled, cementing his life long passion for reading and learning.  He participated in an extra curricular activities while at Glassboro; he was the equipment manager of the Glassboro baseball team.  He was the first student to don Glassboro’s mascot costume, the professorial “Owl” at sporting events.  He maintained a life long love of his college, returning often for reunions and homecomings.

After graduation in 1960 he taught US and World History at several New Jersey high schools including Keyport, Atlantic City and Gloucester City. In 1963 he took a sabbatical to pursue a degree in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

During  summer vacations from college and teaching, Claude returned to his home in Atlantic City, working as a seasonal dairy driver with Abbots Dairy.  Loyal to the dairyman’s trade, he was one of the last in his neighborhood to receive regular deliveries of milk at the doorstep. 

In 1966 Claude accepted a teaching position at Camden County Vocational Technical Schools. He would stay in vocational education for the next 34 years.  From 1966 to 1970 he taught English, Writing, Speech, Human Relations and US History.  After completing a Masters Degree in education from Glassboro in 1970, he worked as a Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructions from 1970 to 1989. During this time he authored two student texts, The Constitution Framework of American Government in 1972 and Social Problems for America in 1973. He finished his career as an Assistant Principal at the Pennsauken campus, retiring on December 31, 1999. 

Through his teaching and work in vocational education , both in the day school and the night program, Claude directly touched and influenced thousands of students.  Anywhere he traveled in South Jersey, Claude’s former students were apt recognize and greet him, usually with a cheery “Hey, that’s Mr. D!.”  Whenever recognized he always took the time to re-acquaint himself with his students, taking pride in their many achievements and successes. 

Later in life, Claude was especially gratified to be invited as a guest of honor to the 50th reunion of his students from Gloucester City High School.  It was a moving tribute to how highly they respected him.

Claude improved his community in other ways. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s he served as a volunteer fire man in Stratford, New Jersey, serving a term as the Fire Company’s Treasurer.  Later in the 1980’s and 1990’s he served as volunteer little league umpire with the Stratford. He was a member of the Lion Tamers Club in Atco, New Jersey, serving as its President in 1988. After he retired, he organized and led and exercise club JCC in Cherry Hill.

Claude was an avid reader. His library contains hundreds of volumes on history, politics, government,  and sociology. On Sunday’s he devoured the New York Times.  He was constantly curious, and regularly took courses  at Camden County Community College on topics which interested him, including current events, and history.

Although born in the United States, his parents gave him the gift of the Italian language.  A fluent speaker in Italian, he perfected and maintained his skills later in life by taking Italian classes and speaking with his cousins in Montella, Italy on the telephone.  

In his 70’s Claude decided he wanted to  take up sailing; joined the Philadelphia Sailing Club, and spent a delightful summer on the Delaware River.

He was an ardent football fan.  He played football in high school.  In the early 1960’s he was a season ticket holder for the New York Giants.  But his true love was college football, and in particular Notre Dame football.  He would organize his schedule around Notre Dame games, delighting in their victories while remaining philosophical in defeat.  Each fall would find Claude attending area games with his family at Rowan, Pennsylvania and Princeton.

For the past 25 years, he resided in Atco, New Jersey.

Claude’s conviviality, intelligence, and dedication to friends and family will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He is preceded in death by his parents, Carolina and Salvatore, as well as his sisters Lucy, Filomena and Clara.   He is survived by his son, Michael (Tabassum Salam); grandchildren Sophia and Michael; sister Margaret Cimino; and many nieces and nephews.

Claude is also survived by his partner for the past 25 years, Mary Greis and he was adopted into Mary’s loving family. Claude is mourned by Mary’s children, daughter Terri Trainor; son Greg Greis Jr., (Anne); grandchildren Michelle Cianfrani (Chuck), Matthew Trainor (Danielle), Michaela Trainor, Melissa Penuel (Jonathon), and Greg  Greis; and great-grandchildren Aiden, Chase, Willow, Isaac and Bethany.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing Thursday evening 7:00PM-9:00PM at the COSTANTINO FUNERAL HOME 231 W. WHITE HORSE PIKE BERLIN, NJ 08009. The family will receive relatives and friends Friday morning 10:00AM-11:00AM St. Michael’s RC Church 10 North Mississippi Ave. Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Funeral Mass 11:00AM. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery Mays Landing, NJ. In lieu of flowers contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 262 Danny Thomas Place Memphis, TN 38105 would be appreciated. For additional information or see a more detailed tribute to Claude please visit;COSTANTINOFH.COM.