Colonel Peter T. Mercuro, a native son of Newark, was a distinguished dual-career professional, having served his state and nation. His public service spanned more than 36 years, encompassing service with the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and simultaneously maintaining positions of responsibility within the Essex County Sheriff’s, New Jersey National Guard and Army Reserve. Colonel Mercuro started his military career as an enlisted man and a full-time employee of the New Jersey Department of Defense. His career plans would include attending Officer Candidate School at Sea Girt, N.J., graduating as a second lieutenant and assigned to the 102nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop) with headquarters in Newark. He would remain in this unit until being reassigned to other organizational headquarters in both the New Jersey National Guard and the Army Reserve.
He was a life member of the Essex Troop Association, a benevolent and fraternal organization that carried on the heritage and lineage of this famed cavalry unit, which moved its headquarters from Newark to West Orange in the early 1960s. He was elected president of the Essex Troop on a number of occasions and was a long-standing senior trustee. He was also a PBA Local 183 member representing the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, where he was assigned to the Identification Bureau as a detective.
He was actively involved in civic activities in the city of Newark; most noteworthy were the Columbus Day activities, which involved coordinating, managing and scheduling a diverse group of organizations that were located throughout the state and region. This was a high point in the city’s social events and sponsored by multiple organizations notably the Italian Tribune, and its president, Ace Alagna, a personal friend of Colonel Mercuro.
Military Service and Organization:
- Enlisted in Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron 102nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Newark) full-time Federal Technician
- Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant assigned to 2nd Squadron 102nd ACR (West Orange)
- Reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company 102nd Armor Battalion (West Orange)
- Promoted to Captain and assigned Company Commander HHC 2nd Armor Battalion (West Orange)
- Reassigned and promoted to Major 44th Area Command Staff (West Orange)
- Reassigned to 261st Military Police Battalion (Paterson)
- Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel assigned to 50th Armored Division Headquarters (East Orange)
- Promoted to Colonel United States Army Reserve (Edison)
- NCO basic and advanced
- Officer basic (Armor)
- Officer advanced (Armor and MP)
- Maintenance Officer (Senior Staff)
- Command and General Staff College
Peter T. Mercuro, the grandson of Italian immigrants who came through Ellis Island, Pietro and Nicolina, and son of Robert and Betty Mercuro, leaves behind his beloved wife of 41 years, Patricia Lynn Mercuro; his loving children, all from New Jersey: Peter Mercuro of Princeton, captain, Air Force; Lisa Mercuro of Fort Lee,; Gina Baraldi of Voorhees; and Ava Sperrazza of North Caldwell; his dear sister, Carol Commins of Florham Park and his youngest brother and sister-in-law, Richard, South Orange Fire Department, and Sheila Mercuro of Florham Park. Peter also leaves behind his three son-in-laws, Michael Baraldi, William Callas and Michael Sperrazza; his two nephews and their wives, Michael Commins, deputy chief, South Orange Fire Department and his wife Paola Commins; Robert Mercuro, detective, Essex County Sheriff’s Office, his wife Elma Mercuro and their daughter, Nicole Mercuro, detective, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office ; two nieces Kristine DiRocco and her husband, Christopher DiRocco, detective, Essex County Sherriff’s Office; and Elissa Commins of Point Pleasant; nine cherished grandchildren along with a number of beloved cousins and dear friends who were fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant life. He is predeceased by the mother of his four children and wife of 14 years, Marian (Zarro) Mercuro, his brother Robert Mercuro and his wife, Marie Mercuro; and his brother in law, Benedict Commins, captain, South Orange Fire Department …. and has joined them in heaven.
It was Pete’s passion to donate and support the Wounded Warrior Foundation, St. Jude’s Hospital for children, Sloan Kettering, Native American Indian Association, The Holocaust Museum, K9’s for Warrior’s and The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island fund to name a few…
His family was his life. Pat, the Kids, and all of his extended family. LOVE is not a big enough word to describe how he felt about his family. He never missed a chance to get together – in Florida, here in North Jersey, or at any beach in the world. He laughed with us, protected us, provided for us, and yes- cried with us. He loved vacations, cruises, the casinos/slots, Sinatra, trips – if they were with his family. Peter gave his family everything he had, no questions asked.
He adored his nine grandkids. He was “POP-POP”. The grandkids could do no wrong and he had a nickname for everyone –Mr. Green, Banes, Princess Bologna, “Throw-Out Michael”, “Aides”, Lisa Pizza, Christina (I DO It) Michael Michael Motorcycle, Robit, Kriddle, Micka Moose, Lisler, and of course – “Jeans”. When his daughters had children, he spent the next week at their houses helping with making meals, shopping, cleaning the house – whatever it took to support his kids in their time of need.
We’ve had the chance to gather as an extended family over the last 20 years – at the Beach. In Florida, or here in New Jersey. He enjoyed the simple things – such as his feet in the sand after he had applied the 80 sunblock – and got out of the house at the crack of noon. He’s the only person that took 20 minutes to read the cover of The New York Post. He also perfected the visit to the bathroom – where he spent valuable time contemplating life’s more important issues. Like today’s weather.
But those events – and our holidays together in North Jersey – are what he truly enjoyed. He would take advantage of his standing as the “Patriarch” during cooking the most delicious meals and speak to the Value of Family. He would grab his glass of wine – and toast what he felt “To La Familia”. Proud of his family, and his life’s journey.
And heaven help Pat if she forgot to pack the appropriate T-shirt that went with the corresponding bathing suit – now – how Pat was supposed to know what he wanted to wear – before he even knew what he wanted to wear – is a mystery that still needs to be solved.
Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind – that right now Peter is deep in conversation with St. Peter about today’s political landscape?
Peter T. Mercuro will be sorely missed, husband, father, uncle, cousin and friend…He was the true “PATRIARCH”.
Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” encapsulates the essence, He was a friend to everyone, and was comfortable in every environment. He loved everyone deeply. But if he could- he would passionately share with you why you must go on and live a life of character and integrity– and above all else – enjoy your time with your family – because life is short and there is so much left to do….Carpe Diem!
Visiting will be in the Prout Funeral Home, 370 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona on Thursday, August 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. A funeral mass will be offered in Our Lady of the Lake church, Verona, on Friday at 10 a.m. Interment with honors will follow at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover.