Lieutenant Colonel John “Jack” A. Di Napoli, Vietnam veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, and English teacher, age 82, of Lake Mohawk, Sparta, New Jersey, passed away while on vacation in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on March 6, 2022.
A graduate of Wayne Valley High School, Wayne, New Jersey, in 1957, Jack was an all-state catcher for the sectional state champs. He was also an outstanding pitcher, pitching a no-hitter game.
He attended Penn Military College (now Widener University) and graduated from Seton Hall University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Jack served in Vietnam from July 1966 to July 1967 as an aerial intelligence officer for the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. He also served as the headquarters commandant for the First Military Intelligence Air Reconnaissance Support Battalion in Gia Dinh Provence.
After returning to the United States and to his devoted wife Eleanor Dupont of Lynn, Mass., and his daughter Suzanne, he spent the next 20 years in the 78th Division, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence.
Jack taught English at West Milford High School from 1970 to 1996. He served as class advisor and organized and conducted educational and cultural trips to Great Britain and Europe for his students. In more recent times, he worked for the Sussex Board of Elections.
Jack was an avid golfer, dog advocate (having rescued 14 dogs throughout his life), humanitarian, gourmet cook, and traveler.
He vacationed in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, for many years with his longtime domestic partner, Birgitta Reilly. They travelled extensively together to Sweden and Italy where they visited the town of Calitri, east of Naples, where Jack’s father’s ancestors came from.
Jack was born in Newark, New Jersey, at Columbus Hospital on September 7, 1939 to the late Salvatore and Patricia Di Napoli (nee Koczur) and is survived by his beloved partner Birgitta Ingrid Reilly of Sparta, New Jersey; daughter Suzanne McConnell and her husband Sean of Virginia Beach, Virginia; his son John V. Di Napoli and his wife Lisa of Atkinson, New Hampshire; his daughter Heather DiVito and husband Michael of Plaistow, New Hampshire; and sister Therese (Tao) Brenner of Verona, New Jersey; and grandchildren Kendall, Chloe, Ashley, Amy, Nicholas, Isabella and Sabrina (deceased).
Jack will be laid to rest at the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Montclair, New Jersey. Donations should be sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Smile Train and ASPCA non-profit organizations in Jack’s name.