Basil Pizzuto from Saddle Brook, a revered educator, firefighter, and conductor of church music, passed away suddenly, leaving numerous individuals who were acquainted with him deeply saddened and taken aback.
The day before his 50th birthday and Thanksgiving celebration with his loved ones, on Wednesday, November 23, Pizzuto, an assistant principal at Ridgewood High School, was struck by an aortic aneurysm while at work.
The news of Pizzuto’s passing had a profound impact on everyone who was close to him, from the St. Philip the Apostle Church in the township to the Saddle Brook Fire Department and the public schools in the village.
Details of Basil Pizzuto’s obituary are not currently available. The cause of his demise also remains undisclosed.
Capt. Pizzuto served the Saddle Brook Volunteer Fire Department for over 30 years. After being hired as a mathematics teacher at Paramus Catholic and later at Montclair State in 1998, he went on to hold positions as a grade administrator and eventually one of the two assistant principal roles at the high school.
Homages Paid to Him
Upon learning about his passing on Thursday morning, fellow students and colleagues mourned his loss.
“Such a significant and agonizing loss. I really can’t believe this is true,” expressed Lesley Ward, the primary office secretary for the Ridgewood school district.
The fact that Pizzuto presented The Giving Tree, written by Shel Silverstein, to some of the many children he mentored speaks volumes about his character.
Ward reflected ‘he was larger than life in every way. The go-to person for so many things. Everyone who knew him admired him. He was a father to two boys and many other children. Constantly surrounded by peers who trusted him, looked up to him, and considered him a friend.’
Saddle Brook Firefighter Vincenzo Iaquez remarked, ‘You had a charisma that illuminated the room. I’ll really miss seeing you at the firehouse on Tuesday nights and during fire calls. It was one of my favorite days of the week.’
Joe Dacosta remarked, ‘Words would never truly capture what kind of person he was. A genuine friend willing to help everyone. A person with a zest for life and a true mentor.’
Tommy Hayes, who began playing with Pizzuto at St. Philip’s 18 years ago, mentioned that he would miss the director’s entertaining keyboard performances, especially the lively Christian music they produced.
Hayes lamented, “I feel lost. Our music is no more, and Basil is no more.”
Joe Brett commented, “We offer our thoughts and sympathies to the family on behalf of the scouts and leaders of Saddle Brook Pack 222, both past and present. He was always an outstanding leader, a cherished friend to the Scouts, and ever ready to assist us.’