Nicholas Cannizzaro drove miles to assist his household

This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration that works to celebrate the life of every New Jersey resident who has died of COVID-19. To learn more and to submit a loved one’s name for profiling, visit

Nicholas Cannizzaro believed in the American dream because he lived it.

The 81-year-old Wayne resident, who died on April 19, 2020, worked hard his entire life.

Supporting his wife and four children as truck drivers, Cannizzaro took great pride in the fact that his children had grown up in a house with basic comfort – a yard to play, a pool to swim and a dog to hang around their arms.

Cannizzaro had never known this kind of stability even as a child.

As children, “we were both on the streets,” said his wife, Janet. Like Cannizzaro, she came from a troubled family.

When she and Cannizzaro met at a Paterson diner as a teenager, they were instantly drawn to each other.

“From then on we were together every night,” recalls Janet, who is now 79 years old.

Nicholas Cannizzaro with his wife, Janet

When Janet became pregnant just a year after they met, the two teenagers married in silence. It was 1956.

Twelve years later, the couple returned to the Catholic Church they grew up in and repeated their vows in front of their priest.

From then on, they would follow their faith and honor the vows they made until death separated them, sixty-two and a half years after they first said, “I do.”

Cannizzaro worked as a truck driver and the young couple settled in a small apartment in Paterson to await the birth of their first child.

It was Janet who saw a small house for sale not far from her apartment. By then, the couple had three children and had enough of landlords.

She had put money aside here and there when they had some spare, but even with her small savings, the price of $ 18,500 was more than she could afford.

But a few months later the price of the house was cut to $ 14,500 and the young couple decided to try again.

It was still a long way to go, but Cannizzaro’s boss at Brown Chemical, the shipping company he worked for, gave them the $ 2,000 they needed to close the deal.

Seven years later, they were able to sell that little house and buy a larger one in Wayne – a house that would protect the family through the years when hard times gave way to happy days for Cannizzaro, Janet, and their four children.

When he wasn’t behind the wheel of his truck, Cannizzaro loved fishing, hunting and doing chores around the house with his sons. He was passionate about buying and restoring old cars and loved nothing more than being with his children.

Although illness plagued his later years, Janet and Nichol enjoyed their five grandchildren. They enjoyed traveling together, connected in love, as they had been from the start.

It is these memories that give her comfort as she struggles to accept his loss.

“I’ve never lived alone,” said Janet. “We’d had each other since we were teenagers.”

“We had a good life,” she continued. “We just went through everything.”

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