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Becker Funeral Home

OBITUARY

Vito P. Trause

July 19, 1925October 31, 2019
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Vito Paul Trause, 94, of Township of Washington, NJ formerly of Carlstadt, NJ on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Beloved husband of the late Theresa E. Trause. Devoted father of Cynthia and Victoria Trause. He was predeceased by his brothers Anthony, Alexander and Adolfo and his sisters Ida Ferraro and Mafalda Keeny. Also survived by many nieces and nephews and his loyal companions Luna and Nico. The family will receive relatives and friends on Monday and Tuesday, November 4 and 5, 2019 4-8pm at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 668 Ridgewood Road, Township of Washington, NJ. Funeral Liturgy on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 10am also at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Interment will follow at George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus, NJ. In lieu of flowers donation to Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org would be appreciated. Becker-funeralhome.com

TOWNSHIP OF WASHINGTON, N.J.—The township and Bergen County—and so many others—lost a friend, WWII veteran Vito “Pal” Trause, 94, who died Oct. 31 at 10 p.m. following a brief hospitalization. According to Mayor Peter Calamari on Facebook, reporting just after midnight on Nov. 1, the loss is tremendous. “Words can not possibly come close to expressing what he meant to everyone who knew him. He was the fabric of this community, its heart and its soul,” he said. Calamari described Trause, a former German prisoner of war, as “a town father in every sense of the word.” He said Trause “embodied “what is best in all of us. Those who knew Vito will never forget his laugh and smile and spirit. A day was always better for having spent time in his presence.” Westwood Mayor John Birkner Jr. posted on Calamari’s thread, “A well-said tribute, mayor. Vito will be missed by all who ever had the honor to meet him.” Trause came from a family dedicated to service of our country, with two brothers also having served. He was married to Terry of East Rutherford and had two daughters, Victoria and Cynthia. According to Cynthia—who at press time had yet to announce arrangements—her father went into the hospital the week prior. “He was 94, he had slowed down. Two days before he went into the hospital he was at the bagel store [David’s Bagels at Washington Town Center] with his friends,” she said. She added, “He also went to a Halloween party at the Golden Seniors in Washington Township, and then he declined quickly.” She said he might have succumbed to a problem with his heart or lungs, or a combination of the two. Cindy said her dad was a special man. She noted that his 90th birthday party drew 300 well-wishers. A surprise that week, in which he was taken to be honored on field at Yankee Stadium, drew 175 local Vito fans. Bobby Keane, who coached Pop Warner football and wrestling in the township, visited the Pascack Press newsroom on Nov. 1 bearing a folder thick with this paper’s clippings on his dear friend Vito. He had stories to share, and confirmed internment would be at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus. “He was the catcher on my father’s softball team. Vito always wore his cigar through his mask. Every time he went to tag somebody out he’d flip the mask up and the cigar would go on the ground, and after the guy was either safe or out—All right, let’s go—and he would put the mask back on and the cigar back in. He was a pisser,” Keane said. The Westwood Cardinals high school football program loved Trause. Students basked in his war stories and a lifetime of wisdom in their classrooms, where he was invited to mentor. On his 90th birthday, the team, the cheerleaders, and most of the student body turned out with balloons and banners at his parade through town. Keane described surprising Trause with the parade, picking him up in a classic convertible and with a contingent of two dozen from the Nam Knights motorcycle club. The New York Yankees honored Trause for that milestone when, with police escort over the George Washington Bridge and down the West Side Highway, he was brought onto the field at the seventh inning stretch and introduced as a World War II POW, drawing cheers of “USA! USA!” Left high school for war service Trause attended East Rutherford High School, now Becton Regional, where he played football 1941–43. He scored a touchdown against Lyndhurst in his final game and joined the U.S. Army by the end of the following week. While serving as a front-line scout for six months, Trause was captured Sept. 24, 1944 and imprisoned at Stalag VII outside Munich. He spent five months of what would have been his high school senior year as a prisoner of war. Liberated by American forces on May 2, 1945 Pfc. Trause undertook a six-day trip to Paris, where he remained two weeks at the end of the war before repatriating. In all, he received the Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the European, African, and Middle East Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars. The mood at David’s Bagels on the morning of Nov. 1 was somber. What usually is a packed house of veterans and others from the Greatest Generation—Trause would hold court there, and his picture hangs on the wall behind the counter—was that morning sparsely attended. One vet said, “He never called anyone by their first name. Never. To him you were Pal. You were Pal. And he meant it.” Larry Lifrieri of WCTV said outside David’s that he last saw Trause was Tuesday. He’d been alerted by a mutual friend who said, “Go see Vito, he might not make the night.” “I went to see him, he wasn’t bad! We’re guessing the heart finally got him,” Lifrieri said.

Trause said as a POW he was made to work daily in Munich in winter, on railroads and in recovering bodies. He lacked proper footwear, and believes that his foot—and perhaps his life—was saved when a Jewish prisoner of the Nazis who worked alongside him stole a pair of shoes from a corpse. The man hid the shoes under his coat and gave them to Trause.

Street renaming and a belated high school diploma On Nov. 24, 2018 Carlstadt recognized Trause and his lifetime of honor, service, and commitment with the rededication of his home street, at Broad and Lincoln. Trause joked that he told the organizers to move along with their plans “as long as I’m still alive and can see the sign.” The idea for renaming a Carlstadt street in Trause’s honor came principally from Ellie Iannuzzi, whose husband, Funzi, was a lifelong friend of Trause’s—including their war years together both in and out of POW camp. Also responsible for the dedication was Dario Sforza, the principal at Becton Regional High School. After meeting Trause on Memorial Day 2018 in the Township of Washington, where they both live, Sforza arranged to bestow Trause a Class of 1945 diploma at the school’s 2018 commencement. The project was called “Operation Vito.” “This young man spent the end of his junior year on the front lines of World War II as part of the U.S. Army infantry,” Sforza said. “What would have been his senior year wasn’t so pleasant. Instead of English class, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war under horrible and horrific conditions.” The New York Knicks presented Trause with an autographed graduation cap. With Westwood’s enthusiastic support, the township’s governing body resolved May 20 to petition Bergen County to establish Vito “Pal” Trause Way, an honorary renaming of Ridgewood Road for the local war hero. Ridgewood Road is a county road and the designation requires the authorization of the Bergen County Freeholders. In twin resolutions, the township and the borough agreed that Trause “exhibits all of the attributes of a citizen to whom we all would aspire to emulate.” A portion of Ridgewood Road is in Westwood. The towns agreed on honoring Trause “for his selfless service, lifelong legacy, and for representing true patriotism to our country.” “Trause has lived an exemplary life of leadership and mentoring, replete with admirable acts and good deeds leaving a legacy worthy of recognition and honor,” explain Township of Washington Resolution 19-206 and Borough of Westwood Resolution 19-148, signed May 7. Calamari rounded out his remarks, “I never met or knew anyone who loved and appreciated people the way Vito did! And we loved and appreciated him right back! Whether you met him for five minutes, or were privileged to know him your whole life, I am confident you’ll never forget him. I know I won’t.”

Services

  • Visitation

    Monday, November 4, 2019

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  • Funeral Mass

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

  • Committal Service

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Memories

Vito P. Trause

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Jenn Trause

November 4, 2019

Uncle Vito at McAuliffe Middle School for the Run for Vets 2017

Frank Baez

November 2, 2019

Sitting with Vito at the Westwood football games laughing cheering on the team always telling each other what the team should have done after the failed play was over

Wil Savino

November 1, 2019

R.I.P VITO THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE .

Jim Duthie

November 1, 2019

Cindy and Tori my prayers are with you
Vito Pal May you Rest In Peace My life was certainly better for knowing you. I will miss you

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