Richard Anthony Avalone
Naples - Richard Anthony Avalone, 75, died on April 29, 2021 in Naples Florida where he lived since 1997. Born in Newark NJ and a former resident of Beachwood/Toms River NJ, Richard was naturally drawn to a life of helping others. "Growing up as a kid in a big city I saw police officers doing everything from investigating traffic accidents to crime scenes", Richard told his grandson in March 2021 as part of a school project on change-makers, "The police were always there to help and comfort people when they needed it most. I thought it would be a great contribution to have the opportunity to help others and from then on I decided that is what I wanted to do."
In his teens, Richard earned a black belt in Judo. At age 18, he joined the United State Marine Corp where he had a distinguished career, including a commendation by Rear Admiral Loughlin, protecting the President of the United States while stationed at 8th and I in Washington D.C. and at Camp David, Maryland. "Guarding the President was an exciting and honorable time for me. I was assigned the duty of Sergeant of the Guard at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David. This duty required very stringent training and top secret clearance." In addition to President Johnson, Richard guarded visiting Prime Ministers and earned a commendation for averting an attack on the Shah of Iran as the escort of his motorcade to the Capitol Building. "I was the driver with agents from the United States Department of State. While exciting, it was also a tremendous responsibility and I was extremely aware of the importance providing protection for visiting heads of state."
After military service, he was a Lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police in charge of The Special Projects and Fraud Units. His responsibilities ranged from road patrol, investigating fraud, undercover drug trafficking & counterfeiting, and corruption of state employees. He was awarded many commendations, but he was most proud of a special commendation for bravery & heroic actions after being hailed by a panicked pedestrian regarding residents trapped within a burning building in Newark. Richard arrived before the fire department, entered the burning building and evacuated all residents, after which seeing a father running toward the burning building to rescue his child on the fourth floor, Richard ran up to the now engulfed fourth floor, searched the apartments for the missing child. Trapped by flames he escaped the building via the roof fire escape where he was overcome by smoke inhalation.
He highly valued strength of character, will and self respect. He taught his children that a person is only as good as their word, to always judge a person individually on their merits, and to treat everyone the same whether it is the janitor or the ceo.
His younger brother, Robert who died earlier this year, also a Marine and a police officer, told his sons that "your dad is the strongest man I've ever known." That strength is how he faced his last battle: a 12+ year long fight with ALS.
He will be remembered for his quirky sense of humor, his happy outlook on life, and his horrible early morning Reveille. He loved family get-togethers and Italian Sunday dinners (only his special sauce allowed). He was loyal, kind, ethical, honest, and always willing to help anyone in need.
He leaves behind his wife, Kathleen Miglarese Avalone, sons Stephen David Avalone of NJ and Seattle, Michael Edward Avalone of NJ and Naples, and their wives, Laura Dewar Avalone and Carey Buccigrossi Avalone, grandchildren, Grace Emerson Avalone, Maximo Alexander Avalone and Luca David Avalone. He also leaves behind a sister Phyllis Patricco and many wonderful nephews, nieces, cousins and close friends. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
His one request upon death was to be wrapped in the Stars & Stripes and exit as a United States Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine.
Published in Asbury Park Press from May 1 to May 4, 2021.