OAKLAND, N.J. -- Oakland resident John Salvatore "Poppy" Tidona Sr. died Sunday, Jan. 31. He was 85.
A first-generation American, Tidona was born in Hoboken. His high school teammates nicknamed him "Tonto" due to his "swarthy" complexion. In his last high school football game, he scored the only touchdown, enabling Rutherford High to defeat beat Passaic, 6-0, on Thanksgiving Day 1948. This was chronicled 10 years later by the Herald News in an article titled "The Story of Tonto."
Tidona played for a semi-pro football team in Newark and then enlisted to serve during the Korean War. As a member of the U.S. Air Force, he was a crew member/gunner on a B-29 bomber. He flew in more than 50 successful missions and achieved the rank of staff sergeant. He was a dedicated employee of Sears Roebuck, working his way up into management and retiring after 38 years. Following retirement, Tidona worked part time as a facility manager at the Medical Arts Building in Oakland.
He is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Marilyn "Carol;" children John, Peter and his wife Pamela, Lori Ann and her husband Gregory, and Paul and his wife Gayle; grandchildren Samantha, Sydney, Mallory,Matthew, William, Michael and Isabelle; sister Mary Ann Abate and her husband Frank; and brother Frank and his wife Joan.
Tidona was predeceased by his parents, Salvatore and Maria (Calabrese) Tidona.
Visiting hours will be from 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3 at the Macagna Diffily Onorato Funeral Home, 41 Ames Ave., Rutherford. The funeral is at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 4 at the funeral home, with a funeral Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary in Rutherford. Interment will be at George Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Paramus.