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Becker Funeral Home

219 Kinderkamack Road, Westwood, NJ

OBITUARY

Matthew I. Bonanno

February 14, 1929November 4, 2019
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Matthew I. Bonanno, 90, of Woodcliff Lake, passed away on Monday, November 4, 2019. He was the beloved husband of Judith, devoted father of Troy Bonanno, his wife Kimberly, and grand children Nicholas and Kiersten. He frequently improved receipts for his close brother–in–law Donald Weisenfluh. Born in New York City, he moved to NJ and attended Leonia High School where he played star football, basketball and baseball, earning the name “Matt Monkey” by his coaches. Graduated NYU where he played football, competed in and won the Golden Gloves Boxing award,, participated in shot put and javelin, and ran the 440 and 220, winning the pre-Olympic Millrose medal.

In 1952 he was drafted into the US Army. He was stationed at Ft. Dix and attached to the 1st Army Division. Matthew was an architectural design high school teacher at New Milford High School where he also coached football and track, and was the Theater Director for numerous shows. Matthew was a backup singer for Jerry Vale and owned his own construction company. He also taught at NYU. Matt was a founding father of the 10 PLUS club, a fraternal organization of high school teachers who had taught for 10 years or more.

After retiring, he enjoyed many days of golfing and traveling around the world, and socializing with his retired buddies known as the ROMEOS, (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Starting in the 1970’s, he and his wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law, drove from NJ through Mexico and Central America to drop off a new Volkswagen Bus for his brother-in-law serving in Panama as aide-d’-camp to Commander U.S Army Forces Southern Command. Matt's travels brought him to places like England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Sicily and Italy, Colorado, Michigan, Hawaii, Portland, Oregon and Sonoma California.

Matt was very proud of his Sicilian ancestry but got a rude awakening during a trip there when he introduced himself to the Sicilian tour guide as a fellow Sicilian paisan. The tour guide looked up at Matt’s robust 6’2” frame and clear blue eyes and informed him that he may have a Sicilian surname, but there was evidently a Norseman in the woodpile.

Matt intends to continue to play golf from his new residence at George Washington Memorial Park, from his place of rest, which faces the Ridgewood Country Club Golf Course. He is taking along his 7 iron, putter and sleeve of golf balls.

The family will receive their relatives and friends on Friday from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at Becker Funeral Home, 219 Kinderkamack Road, Westwood, NJ. A Committal Service will be held on Saturday at 10:45 am in George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, shrinershospitalsforchildren.org Becker-funeralhome.com.

Services

  • Visitation Friday, November 8, 2019
  • Committal Service Saturday, November 9, 2019

Memories

Matthew I. Bonanno

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Bob Potter

November 11, 2019

Mr. B's Leadership and Guidance Touched The Lives of ALL WHO KNEW HIM and for Sooo Many of Us who had the HONOR TO ADD FRIENDSHIP, His Influences Are Forever!! I know My 40+:Years of the 382 Worldwide Tasks, EVERY Theatrical Experience I've Enjoyed, and Some GREAT Food Along The Way All Had His Hand in My Life!! ... My Thoughts and Prayers to His Family... RIP!!

Michael Adashefski

November 10, 2019

The first show I did for Mr. B was Li'l Abner as Pappy Yokum. He called me Pappy for the rest of his life and that was cool by me. When you worked on his shows Matt became more like a father figure and a friend. He was always encouraging his cast to do better but never in an insulting way. Yes he pushed us to work hard but that's what it takes to do theater. And when the curtain came down the applause was just as much his as it was ours. We worked as a team because Matt taught us the importance of working with each other, leaving our differences behind. My heart feels a great emptiness now that he's gone, but the lessons he taught me still influence whatever I do in life. He was the best for this reason.

Jeffrey Sokolik

November 10, 2019

So sorry for your loss to all of you..A memory shared as Matt was a Teacher,Coach and Colleague.My first teaching job was at N.M.H.S.M .I remember going to Matts house in New Milford and he used his wood working skills to helped me refinish my Fiddle /Violin.I still have the instrument and it is in good shape.As a cherished memory and so much more.So sorry hear again of his passing.

Rob Schmidt

November 9, 2019

Thanks Mr B for all you did for me during my time as a football player, you were a great help with my ailments! You will be dearly missed by all may your family find peace in this time.

Sherry Jones-Levy

November 8, 2019

Although I never had Mr. B for a teacher I saw a lot of him in high school being part of the chorus for the wonderful talent shows he and Mr. Thompson put on each year. My best friend, Connie, was the choreographer for all the shows so I got to see a lot of Mr B in those precious high school years. May Mr. B Rest In Peace in the knowledge of how his life impacted for good the lives of so many students. One good teacher can make a world of difference. I have always thought that teaching is the most important job in the world.

Ed Bognacki

November 8, 2019

I will always have very fond memories of working with Mr. Bonanno on the NMHS production of "Fiddler on the Roof". As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate those who taught me in NMHS. Thanks, Mr. Bonanno. "Requiescat in pace"

PS: You were right Matt Bonanno, Ferruccio Tagliavini was a better opera singer than Mario Lanza.

Connie Rovetto

November 7, 2019

PART 3 OF 3 I went on to open a party place where kids could sing and dance on a stage and be a “star”. I was blessed to do that for 13 years. Even now, as a Wedding Officiant having performed over a thousand ceremonies, I draw on that same self confidence as I stand before many people to do my job. CBS, as we were known, (Connie Rovetto, Barbara DiGrazia & Sherry Jones) will always remember our times with you when we all met up for Coffee in the diner after HS as you offered your well seasoned advice about what was going on in our lives.You never pulled any punches and always told it like it was. You always called me “Rovetto” and Barbara was always “DiGrazia”. About ten years ago, the last time that I saw you, I was so very fortunate to be able to tell both you, “Mr. B.” and “Mr. T.”, in person, all of this at a little reunion event at my party place. I was so grateful that night to have the opportunity to tell you in my own words and through my tears of gratitude, how you impacted my life during and long after high school. “Mr. T.” presented me that night with some of his own personal scrapbook photos of our shows and I am forever grateful that he did. They are my prized possessions. I have a picture of the three of us from that night which I will always treasure. Many attending that evening were so thrilled to see you both again. Someone recently sent me a picture of the program from Only for Lovers & I treasure that as well.
I am certain that you are now directing the Angels and Saints along with “Mr. T.” in an original Heavenly production that only the 2 of you could write. You are & forever will be New Milford’s own Rodgers and Hammerstein. You will always be a huge part of the fabric of my heart. Movies made about wonderful teachers who positively changed & impacted the lives their students cannot compare to you and “Mr. T.” &the many students forever touched by our time at NMHS. My heartfelt condolences to the Bonanno Family RIP

Connie Rovetto

November 7, 2019

Part 2 of 3 “Mr. B.” & “Mr. T.” went out of their way to include so many in the school. “Mr. B.’s” Shop students participated in set building, lighting, etc. The Band students played the music. The Art students participated in set design. They reached out to and included the “Danny Zukos” & the “Vinny Barbarinos” of the time, along with anyone of the “Nerds”, “Jocks” or “Cool Kids” that wanted to be a part of the excitement of “show time” at New Milford High School. Oh what a time it was. Confidence was instilled. Pride was abundant and memories are life lasting. I remember hearing “Mr. B.” perform “Because of You” by Tony Bennett at a school show when I was about 14. I wasn’t really fully aware of Tony Bennett at the time but “Mr. B.’s” rendition of the song and beautiful voice showcased his own true talent. All the students and parents were so impressed with his singing. I will always associate that song with you, “Mr. B.”. “Mr. B”, because of you, I went on to manage my ex-husband’s show across the country. I went on to write and direct some shows for my own kids’ school. Another mother at the school remembered all the shows at NMHS and recruited me to do some fundraising with a “show”. Taking my cues from you, with the very first show, we were able to purchase a new stage curtain for the auditorium, new stage lights and new music books for the students. I was so proud. I was hooked and did two other original shows. When students or parents thanked me, I, in my heart and my mind, thanked you “Mr. B.” and “Mr. T.”. for all that you taught me and that I was able pass on. Because of you “Mr. B.”, I realized the impact that having the self confidence to be on stage can give to a child

Connie Rovetto

November 7, 2019

PART 1 OF 3 MUCH TO SAY
"TO SIR WITH LOVE"
“THOSE SCHOOLGIRL DAYS OF TELLING TALES AND BITING NAILS ARE GONE. BUT IN MY MIND, I KNOW THEY WILL STILL LIVE ON AND ON” I am so deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my teacher, my mentor and my friend, Mr. Matthew Bonanno – “Mr. B. I could write a novel about the impact that he had on my life. High School can sometimes be difficult, especially if you’re the new girl. I wouldn’t trade my High School experience for all the money in the world. It impacted so much of my life in ways that I couldn’t imagine. I was fortunate to be part of the Theater Group and Chorus taught and directed by “Mr. B.” and “Mr. T.” (Dick Thompson RIP). They saw in me what I didn’t see in myself and trusted me with many solo performances and the coveted job of choreographer in their “masterful” productions. Whether it was running down the aisle of the auditorium as the Ring Master, with a whip no less, dancing to the Pink Panther or the pretend shooting of “Johnny” in “Frankie & Johnny”, you created such unbelievable memories for me. I will never forget the look in your steel blue eyes when we all got it right nor will I ever forget the look when we didn’t especially when I wouldn’t wear the black wig while dancing and portraying Anne Miller. I was so proud to sit in the auditorium with you for auditions and rehearsals. I still consider myself so fortunate to have had those opportunities. How I wish we had cell phone pictures and videos back then. It’s hard to put into words level of work, dedication, professionalism and passion that went into these original productions by “Mr. B.” and “Mr. T.” “Only for Lovers” and “Only for Jokers” along with every other show, concert and production that, together, they wrote, produced and directed were above and beyond a high school level. So many students were forever impacted from being part of the great and unforgettable camaraderie these shows fostered.

Brian Badrigian

November 7, 2019

I was in Mr. Bonanno’ s Mechanical Drawing class in the early 1960’s. His teaching style was no nonsense and he pushed you to improve your work from one assignment to the next. His commitment to his students became obvious years later and causes me to think of him often. He left mark by teaching and his memory lives on. My condolences to his family and friends.

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