Donald Dominic Panciello, nicknamed “Popeye” by friends, of Toms River, New Jersey, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, at age 87 after many years of battling illnesses.
Donald was born on May 3, 1934, in Orange, NJ to the late Florence (Petruzzi) and Carmen Panciello. Raised in West Orange, NJ, Donald attended West Orange High School with his friends for life Barry Nicol (Virginia Beach, Virginia) and Lew Ann Middlecamp (Kissimmee, FL). They graduated with the Class of 1952.
Donald, a.k.a “Pop’s,” worked hard as a mechanic then found his way to Western Electric in Union, NJ. At night he was a valet for Richfield Regency for many years.
Donald was introduced to his wife, Jo Ann (Santora) by her uncle, Edward V Milano, Sr. It was Uncle Eddie who brought Donald to the lake where the family was having a function. That was the beginning- as he found his love. This was JoAnn’s senior year of High School, she graduated in 1956 from Irvington High School.
JoAnn and Don married on September 14, 1957, surrounded by family and friends. They were overjoyed to have just celebrated 64 years of marriage and 65 years by each other’s side. They were a beautiful example of true love until the end.
After a long wait, JoAnn and Don were Blessed with adopting a daughter, Danielle (Dani) DelPresto, in 1970.
Their family lived happily in Fairfield until 1984 when Don’s employer, Western Electric, was bought out by AT&T. The change in work location sent the Panciello family to Allentown, PA. In typical Pops fashion, he did everything he could to keep his family in Fairfield; unfortunately, the commute was too much so they moved.
Pops soon met a few more amazing friends at the new AT&T warehouse including Kenny Mitchell (Allentown, PA) where they bonded over their love of old cars and working on cars.
In 1990, retirement after his 1st major stroke, allowed the Panciello’s to move to Toms River where they have lived for the past 31 years. Their hearts will forever be with their North Jersey family, particularly in Fairfield.
Danielle was a shining star to Don. Pop taught his daughter Danielle to get under the engine of a car and get greasy from a young age of 5, with oil pouring in her hair. He taught her to ride a dirt bike at age 7 when she could not even reach the ground. Amazingly, he even taught her how to drive a stick shift car. Pop was always teaching Danielle things that would help her in life.
No matter where they lived you would always find JoAnn, called Mimi by many, in the kitchen. Pop was either at work or working outside keeping his lawn meticulously groomed. Pop and Mimi were inseparable, always running around together.
Although he worked hard, Pop embraced the fun in life too. He often spent time with his family in the backyard and summers at his favorite beach, Wildwood Crest. He enjoyed the yearly tradition of spending time with their cousins, the Kinney family. A few good spins on Danny Kinney’s boat with his grandsons along to show them new things and adventures.
Pop always loved playing right alongside his grandsons, Nicholas Dominic, and Donato Angelo, and was grateful to have the privilege to live with them from a young age and be able to help teach them many things as he had done with Danielle. He was there to teach them to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, and how to use tools.
Yet sadly over the past few years Don endured a number of medical battles, with a stroke and seizures which took a lot of his mobility away. Although he was not as agile, he sure did give it his best! Pop loved listening to his young men, as he affectionately called them, play the guitar and drums in the house.
Most grandfathers would want the boys to shut that racket off, not Pops! He would sit with boys for hours and if Donato wasn’t on his drums, you would find Pop’s playing on them. As the boys grew, he also made sure to attend as many of their sporting and school events. Don was certainly Blessed to have two wonderful grandsons in Nicholas and Donato.
Don was also a proud member of the Elks, Knights of Columbus, and always a fond member of a few car meets throughout the years.
Donald is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, JoAnn (Santora) Panciello; his daughter, Danielle Del Presto; grandsons, Nicholas Dominic DelPresto and Donato Angelo DelPresto & his girlfriend Alexus Minniti, who Don adored. He loved spending time with his grand fur babies, Sunny, Stella Rose & Scrappy Dappy Doo.
Don is predeceased by his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Lea and William Babcock.
Survived by his nieces; Donna Lea (Babcock) Torsiello and her husband Alfredo Torsiello (Murrells Inlet, SC). His niece/goddaughter Sharon Rose (Babcock) Westervelt and husband David Brett Westervelt (Toms River, NJ). Great-Niece Jessica Rose (Westervelt) Weiss and husband Valentino Weiss (Raleigh, NC), Great-Niece Jennifer Lea (Torsiello) Dyches and her husband Chris Dyches (Charlotte, NC), Great-Nephew Nicholas Torsiello and his wife Laura Torsiello (Mendham, NJ). Great-Great Nieces Lucia Lea & Stella Ann Torsiello. Great-Great Nephews Patrick & Dominic Dyches.
Don had many loving cousins, including the Guarino, Ruffalo, Millano, and Williams families. They all enjoyed spending time with Pop and Mimi. Especially the Guarino Family, as they lived the closest. He appreciated them taking him out for celebrations or just stopping in to visit. Special thanks to Suzie & Christina Guarino, who adopted Mimi & Pops as their “grandparents.”
Couple of cute story Pops always like to talk about. One was meeting Whitney Houston when she was child and he told her with that voice, you need to go into singing. Then meeting Jack Palance at the shoe repair store in Pa. Pops says to Jack, what are you doing here, Jack responds same as you, getting my boots fixed. Pops goes, well I thought you would just have someone do it for you, Jack says my boots to fix.
So many friends to mention, especially the Travers family for always stepping up for the good times and the bad along with the Cuomo’ family; they became family as family is not always blood.
A special thank you to James and Karla at Arista Care Manchester for making sure Pops was well cared for his last 162 days here.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday, November 27, 2021 9:00am – 11:00am at the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals, 995 Fischer Blvd, Toms River. A funeral service will be offered at 11:00am. Entombment to follow at St. Joseph Cemetery, 56 Cedar Grove Rd, Toms River, NJ 08753
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.ryanfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to https://gofund.me/f6dc4f0f to help with Pop's Funeral. Diane Travers, Organizer