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Compiled by Robin Jovanovich
Charles L. Massey
Charles L. Massey, former president of the March of Dimes, died on March 8, 2015 at his home in Rye.
Born in Waco, Texas on August 19, 1922, his family moved to Arkansas during the Depression. He was attending the University of Arkansas when Pearl Harbor was attacked. His education was interrupted by service in the Philippines, where he was seriously wounded. After a year of recovery in army hospitals, he returned to complete his studies, graduating in 1948.
During the war, his interest in business gave way to an interest in public service. Following a mentor’s advice, he took a job as an organizer for what later became known as the March of Dimes. Mr. Massey was planning to move on in a year, but then came the polio epidemic of 1949.
Instantly, he faced a major challenge. Convincing reluctant hospitals to accept patients, he created and equipped polio wards, flew in nurses, iron lungs, and beds. He walked the wards where over 1,000 polio patients were treated. He later recalled the haunting “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” of the iron lungs, the satisfaction of bringing hope and order where there had been chaos and despair, and the moment – in the midst of it all – when he realized that he had found his life’s work.
Mr. Massey’s accomplishments as an organizer and a crises manager catapulted him to the New York City headquarters to oversee major national aspects of the efforts to stop polio through fundraising, research, and the development of a national volunteer team to test and then administer the Salk vaccine.
Of the announcement of the vaccine’s efficacy in 1955, Mr. Massey later wrote that he “felt the same exhilaration he had felt as a young army officer” when the end of the war was in sight. He was proud to be part of this victory “directed by the organization and supported by millions of ordinary citizens from all walks of life.”
With the defeat of polio, the organization faced bankruptcy and needed to transform itself. Mr. Massey helped reinvent the March of Dimes as it shifted its focus to birth defects, engaging with the science community, raising money, and galvanizing volunteers to rally behind the new mission. He was instrumental in developing NICU’s to provide care to babies in crisis, in funding research that led to medicines to help at-risk babies, and in raising awareness of the plague of birth defects, accomplishments that have saved thousands of infants. He took special pride in rallying volunteers once again to raise funds for the construction of the Salk Institute, one of the world’s leading biomedical research centers.
From 1980 to 1990, Mr. Massey served as president of the March of Dimes.
In retirement, he continued to demonstrate his commitment to making a difference in people’s lives. Acting, as he put it, no longer in a macro way but in a micro way, he helped people one-on-one according to their individual needs, as a deacon of his church, a Stephen Minister, and a Friendly Visitor. He was a good listener, a wise counselor, and a gentle man.
He is survived by his wife of twenty years, Mary Anne Massey; his daughter Priscilla Miller; his grandchildren Michael J. Massey, Charles Paul Massey, and Corinne Miller; and by seven nieces and nephews. He will be remembered by them and countless friends who had the good fortune to benefit from his warmth, his sense of humor, his wisdom, and his example.
A memorial service was held March 14 at Rye Presbyterian Church.
Donations in his memory may be made to Rye Presbyterian Church, Doctors Without Borders, or the Wounded Warrior Project.
Dr. James Murray
James F. Murray, a resident of Rye for nearly half a century, died peacefully at The Osborn Pavilion on March 5, 2015. He was 93.
Born in Manhattan on September 29, 1921, to James and Mary Frances Burke Murray, he was raised in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse. After graduating from the Jesuit-run Regis High School in Manhattan in 1939, he continued his studies at the University of Notre Dame, earning a bachelor of arts degree and graduating cum laude in December 1942.
In February 1943, he enrolled in the Army Signal Corps, and served on a communications ship, the USS Catoctin, as a cartographer. The ship traveled from Philadelphia to North Africa, Naples, Toulon, and Sevastopol. During World War II, he was involved in campaigns in Rhineland, Rome-Arno, and southern France. He received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, World War II Victory, and American Defense Service medals.
Following the war, he returned to New York and eventually enrolled in dental school at St. Louis University, where he earned a D.D.S. degree in 1952. He set up a dental practice in the Bronx, near Fordham University.
In 1953, he married Jean Mary Hayes, who also lived in the Bronx. After living in Bronxville and Long Island, the family moved to Rye in 1967. Later, Dr. Murray moved his practice to the Grand Concourse, and continued to work as a dentist into his early 70s.
A lifelong Catholic, he was a parishioner of Church of the Resurrection in Rye. An avid golfer, he was a member of Westchester Country Club, a sight of frequent family gatherings, for over 40 years.
Dr. Murray was a longtime supporter of all three of his alma maters. Reading, travel, and Notre Dame football were among his other interests.
He was predeceased by his wife, Jean, his brother, John, and his sister, Anne. He is survived by his sons, James of Rye, and Robert of Princeton, N.J.; a daughter-in-law, Rita; and several nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass was celebrated at Church of the Resurrection on March 11, followed by burial at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
Donations in his memory may be made to Regis High School, The Office of Development, 55 East 84th Street, New York, NY 10028.
Amiel Tutolo died February 5, 2015, at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, New York, following a brief illness. He was 69.
Born to Emil and Caroline Tutolo in Port Chester on November 14, 1945, he grew up in Rye. After attending cooking school in New York City, he moved to Monroe, New York. For the last twelve years, he was a chef for Orange-Ulster BOCES.
“Cooking was not just his job,” said his family. “It was his passion.”
With his culinary talents and love of people, Mr. Tutolo was always happy to cook up meals for his family, his church, and his community. He was affectionately known as Chef Amiel. Mr. Tutolo was active in the South Hudson Tres Dias community, as well as the Highland Mills United Methodist Church.
He will be remembered for his contagious smile and sense of humor.
A funeral service was held February 12 at Highland Mills Methodist Church.
He was predeceased by his parents, Emil and Caroline Tutolo. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Janice Tutolo; his sons, Rev. Amiel Tutolo and his wife Sandra of Roanoke, Virginia, and Derek Tutolo and his wife Holly of Jonesboro, Arkansas; and his sister, Theresa Demas and her husband Donald of Rye. Mr. Tutolo was blessed with five grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to Highland Mills United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 611, Highland Mills, NY 10930, or the Walter Hoving Home, 40 Walter Hoving Road, Garrison, NY 10524.
Eleanor Krueger Jennings, a longtime resident of Rye, died peacefully on March 10, 2015, surrounded by her family. She was 90 years old.
She was born on October 7, 1924 in New Rochelle. After graduating from New Rochelle High School, she attended Berkeley Secretarial School in New York.
She touched the hearts of many, but none more so than her beloved family. “We loved her because she was our ‘Nana’, but we cherished her because she was our friend,” said her grandson Ryan Jennings.
A passionate Catholic, she dedicated her time and efforts to both the Church of the Holy Family in New Rochelle and Church of the Resurrection in Rye. Mrs. Jennings also enjoyed painting landscapes and travel.
She is survived by her husband of 68 years, James A. Jennings Jr.; her sons, James A. Jennings III, and Mark E. Jennings, and their wives Pamela and Katherine; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son, Scott C. Jennings, and her brother Edward “Buddy” Krueger.
A funeral service was held March 13 at Church of the Resurrection in Rye, followed by interment at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla.
Carmen J. Vecchiolla
Carmen J. Vecchiolla, who during World War II served with the Merrill’s Marauders (5307th Composite Unit), and helped build the Stilwell Road, died February 26, 2015. He was 90.
He was born in Rye on July 16, 1924. While still a teenager, Carmine as he was called, enlisted in the Army. He was sent to India and then to Burma, where he helped to build the Ledo Road, later named The Stilwell Road after General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell. It was a lifeline to China where our ally, the government of Chiang Kai-shek, was being starved after the Japanese invasion and occupation.
While building the road, close to ten percent of our men died and nearly every one that survived was wounded by entrenched Japanese forces or contracted a tropical disease. During hand-to-hand combat, Mr. Vecchiolla was wounded on both arms by a bayonet. He spent more than four months in a Japanese prison camp in Burma. When he was rescued by a contingent of the British Army dropped into the jungle by glider aircraft, he weighed fewer than 100 pounds. In addition to wounds received in combat, he contracted malaria, the after-effects of which continued to plague him the rest of his life. He was awarded a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and a World War II Victory Medal.
After Mr. Vecchiolla returned home and was discharged from the Army in 1947, he was called to another area of important service. He joined the Rye Police Department in 1952, placing third in the entrance examination. He served with distinction as part of the Accident Control Squad until his retirement in 1979. He later received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rye PBA.
In an interview with Bob Marrow for The Rye Record in 2012, he said, “I enjoyed an interesting and sometimes exciting career as a Rye police officer, but nothing compares to helping build The Stilwell Road in the tropical jungles of Burma, a country I didn’t know existed when I enlisted in the Army as a teenager.”
Mr. Vecchiolla was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus Council 503, a longtime member of American Legion Post 128, and an active member of the Rye PBA.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” (nee Buttiglione); his sons Donald and his wife Betty Vecchiolla and Anthony and his wife Suzanne Vickerson; grandchildren Katie and Daniel Vecchiolla and Caroline and Marshall Vickerson; and a great-grandchild, Harper Lee. Mr. Vecchiolla was predeceased by his sisters, Mary Diamond and May Snyder.
A memorial Mass was celebrated on March 7 at Church of the Resurrection.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, 370 7th Avenue, Room 320, New York, NY 10001