An exceptional individual, Mike Azzolino was a son, husband, brother, friend, father, grandfather, guidance counselor, administrator, professional organization officer, tour business pioneer and company founder.
Born in Jersey City, he grew up in Lodi, NJ. The basket ball team manager, he graduated high school early and worked with father Nick and brother Tony in Bergen Films, Lodi.
Though he lost the sight of 1 eye in childhood, he was drafted and serve in WWII, in Africa and Italy with the Army Air Force (later named the US Air Force). Staff Sergeant Azzolino was prohibited from officer candidate school because he had only one eye, but was the only non-com to head an army base.
He earned his Bachelors from Fairleigh Dickenson University (graduating second in his class, working full time with a family), his Masters from Montclair State, and completed doctoral work at Yeshivah University.
Mike was a 6th grade teacher then guidance counselor at the Gantner Avenue School, East Paterson before becoming a East Paterson Memorial HS high school counsel, Director of Guidance, then Vice-Principal.
He was a guidance counselor then Vice-Principal at Paramus HS and eventually retired from Paramus.
During his long career in education, he had a second career as head escort for Casser Tours, NYC. While still in East Paterson, he pioneered in travel. He planned then escorted the FIRST bus tour to Alaska, a 31-day tour from NYC through Canada to Alaska, and returned by plane. For this achievement, he received the Key to the City of Anchorage.
Ever ready to contribute and volunteer, Mike served as Board of Trustee President of the South Bergen Teachers Federal Credit Union, twice as Bergen County Retired Educators Association President, and for years as NJREA Treasurer.
He also founded Group Tours, providing bus trips and cruises to groups as an outgrowth of his work in the travel business.
Though Michael Azzolino was honored with the Key to Anchorage, he was more proud of being named Paramus High School Educator of the Year. Though the Teacher of the Year Award had been given before, never had the recognition been conferred upon an administrator, so, the name change was required.
A leader in his profession and community, Mike Azzolino was an exceptional father and grandfather.
Michael Anthony Azzolino of Washington Township, died on January 20th, 2009 at 88 after an 18-year battle with myasthenia gravis.
In 2008, before his death grandson Michael Vinik, president of Vinik Marine, Keyport, NJ, christened the vessel MIKE AZZOLINO, the former USCG WYT72, the tug YANKTON, in his name. Says Vinik, (My grandfather has always been a roll model to me. This was an appropriate way to honor him for all he's done.