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Obituary of Bernard Michael LiCalsi
Bernard Michael LiCalsi died peacefully on January 12 surrounded by his family and the dulcet tones of Ol’ Blue Eyes singing Fly Me to the Moon and Summer Wind. Described by a friend as “a bright light you just couldn’t ignore,” Bernie will be remembered for his ready laugh and ease of striking up a conversation with practically anyone – whether at a White House reception or hanging around the barbershop. Bernie was born in Hoboken in 1940, the only son of Angelo and Rose (nee Bertone).
He grew up at 415 Monroe Street, in the same tenement building where his idol Frank Sinatra was born. Sinatra would remain a constant presence throughout his life. Bernie had a good set of pipes himself, but did not pursue a singing career despite his father’s prodding. He would joke, “Growing up in that house, you’d have to be better than Sinatra to make it.” Bernie moved with his parents to Lodi as a teenager, where he would go on to serve in the U.S. Army and New Jersey National Guard. It was during this time he met the love of his life, Christiana, who was impressed by his snappy attire and chivalrous attentiveness. The night they met, he came home and told his mother, “I just met the girl I’m going to marry.” It was only a matter of weeks before he proposed, but he would wait to formally present the engagement ring until a more auspicious date – Sinatra’s birthday.
In sports, Bernie’s first love was Willie “Say Hey” Mays and New York’s Baseball Giants, until they broke his heart by heading west when he was 17. As an adult, he became an avid fan of the New York Mets and New York Football Giants. His passion for The Amazins and Big Blue – and his frequently comical reactions to their misfortunes – was legendary. He was also an avid golfer who enjoyed watching the PGA tour. A highlight was a trip to Augusta for the Masters Tournament. His greatest affection, though, was for horse racing. He loved everything about horses and even took up riding as a teenager. He and Chris would frequently treat their two young children to pony rides in Van Saun Park. Among frequent vacations to Myrtle Beach, Lake Placid, and Disney World, were numerous trips to Saratoga Race Course. Retirement meant Bernie had more time to stop by nearby Monmouth Park to catch a race or place a bet.
Bernie started married life running his own landscaping business – counting singer Jerry Vale among his clients – but he spent most of his career as a Teamster driving tractor trailers. He and Chris moved their family to Middletown Township in 1978, where he lived the rest of his life. Bernie was the consummate selfless, hardworking family man. He said that after a long day at work, it was always such a good feeling to turn the corner to see his house and know his wife and children were waiting for him. Bernie has now gone to “play among the stars and sing forevermore,” leaving behind his wife of 58 years, Christiana (nee Simler) and children Allison (Patrick) and Michael (Kara), his grandchildren – the lights of his life – Daphne, Jack, Dylan and Phoebe, sister Anna Del Monaco (Anthony), sister-in-law Robin Simler and nephew Mark Del Monaco. He will also be greatly missed by his crews at Panera and Dunkin Donuts.
A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20 from 3 to 6 pm at Posten-McGinley Funeral Home in Atlantic Highlands. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Autism Speaks (www.autismspeaks.org), the Overlook Medical Center Foundation (overlookfoundation.org) or the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (www.trfinc.org).To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Bernard LiCalsi, please visit Tribute Store