Charles J. Ciaccio

Charles J. Ciaccio

Charles J. Ciaccio

SYRACUSE — Charles Ciaccio was a quiet and kind person, someone who was gracious and intelligent, said his daughter Karen Cornelius. “He was always there for everybody; just a really sweet person.”

Mr. Ciaccio died on April 26, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. He was 95.  

Charles “Chuck” J. Ciaccio was born to John and Mary Ciaccio Oct. 22, 1925 in Huntington, Long Island and raised in Brooklyn. 

Mary Ciaccio was a homemaker and John Ciaccio was an accountant, Mrs. Cornelius said. 

“He did talk about being a Depression-Era baby,” Mrs. Cornelius said of her father’s childhood. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, her father talked about “really saving everything.” 

Mr. Ciaccio told his daughter stories of going to the local market, venturing into the basement, where the liquor was stored, and bringing it home to his parents. “It wasn’t something I think that the store normally sold. I think it was just for people that kind of knew it was there,” she said with a laugh. Prohibition lasted in the United States until December 1933. 

After graduating from Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, Mr. Ciaccio served in the Navy during World War II. 

“After active service at the Naval Hospital in Pearl Harbor, he attended Hobart College, receiving a B.A. in 1948,” Mr. Ciaccio’s family wrote in a tribute. “He then went on to New York University earning an M.A. in 1949, and continued with extensive post graduate studies at SUNY.”

It was at Hobart College that Mr. Ciaccio would meet the woman who would become his wife, Prudence Clemishire.  

Mrs. Cornelius said her parents met at a Hobart dance. Her father was in his Navy uniform and her mother was wearing an Angora wool sweater. He asked her to dance and she “shed all over him.”

Mr. Ciaccio would marry “the love of his life” in 1949. It was “a love affair that would span 72 years,” his family wrote.

After the couple were married, they moved to Camden in Oneida County and Mr. Ciaccio began work as a Social Studies teacher. 

“In 1960, the Ciaccios purchased a house in Altamont, the one and only home they would ever buy,” his family wrote. “Chuck and Prudy raised their family there along with a host of their children’s friends who were constantly in and out of the Lincoln Avenue home for lunch or dinner or just to hang around.”

“There were frequent dinner parties and holiday gatherings. Chuck was proud of the fact that his grandsons, Josh and Matt purchased the home after Chuck and Prudy moved to Syracuse,” Mr. Ciaccio’s wrote. 

After growing up in an urban area, Mr. Ciaccio came to love trees and would come to plant a number of them at his home, where he and his wife lived for 60 years. “Growing up, we had apple trees and cherry trees and pear trees and anything you can think of,” Mrs. Cornelius said. 

“He grew up in Brooklyn,” Mrs. Cornelius said of her father, “but Altamont was his home.”

“In March 2020, as a result of COVID and the untimely death of their son, Craig, they moved to the Syracuse area to be closer to their daughter, Karen, and her husband, Dave,” Mr. Ciaccio’s family wrote. 

Mr. Ciaccio started teaching at Altamont High School in 1953. 

Mrs. Cornelius said her father taught at Altamont for only a year before it closed down and he moved onto Guilderland High School, where he remained for the next 30 years in a number of capacities. She said he loved being principal, but enrollment grew and he began to feel disconnected from the students. “He said, ‘I only saw the ones who got in trouble.’” 

Mr. Ciaccio missed teaching while he was principal, a position he held for 23 years — but he would teach genealogy courses, his daughter said, “to keep that kind [relationship] with the kids.”

“He was just a kind soul,” she said, and, in contact with a number of the graduated Guilderland classes, “he went to a ton of reunions.” 

Mr. Ciaccio retired in 1983.

Asked what got her father into teaching, Mrs. Cornelius said, “He was a lifelong learner. He just loved the whole concept of learning … but he also loved kids, so he just loved sharing that.”

Long before but also in retirement, Mr. Ciaccio was extremely active with a number of volunteer organizations. 

“I think part of that was that my mother said you have to go find something to do,” Mrs. Cornelius said with a laugh, adding that her mother also did a lot of volunteer work.  A lot of the volunteer work her father did was education-based,  Mrs. Cornelius said, for example, giving tours around Albany, “just because he liked doing that type of thing.”

Mr. Ciaccio served as president of the of the Suburban Scholastic Council School Administrators Association of New York State; president of the Helderberg Kiwanis Club; he was a member of the board of Albany Children’s and Family Services; an editorial board member of the School Administrators Association of New York State; an editorial consultant for the New York State Museum; an educational consultant for the New York State Department of Education; and served as the Vestry-Warden of St. Boniface Episcopal Church in Guilderland for 20 years.  

Mr. Ciaccio also volunteered at the Guilderland YMCA, Guilderland Meals on Wheels, Friends of the Library, and the Guilderland Food Pantry. 

In retirement, Mr. Ciaccio did a lot of similar volunteer work, his daughter said, the tours in downtown Albany, the friends of the library, the food pantry, meals on wheels, selective services, and he volunteered at the YMCA until he was about 90.

And Mr. and Mrs. Ciaccio had their hobbies. 

 “They traveled a lot; they went all over,” their daughter said, her parents visited the Pacific Northwest, all through Continental Europe, Britain, Thailand, Russia, they wintered in Florida. Mr. Ciaccio was also a stamp and coin collector. He liked camping and, for a time, woodworking. 

“Always ready with a quick smile, a hug, and a kiss, Chuck was a quiet, dignified and gracious man,” Mrs. Ciaccio’s family wrote. “He will be sorely missed.”

****

Charles J. Ciaccio is survived by his wife, Prudy; his son, Charles, Jr., and his wife, Kathy, of Wachapreague, Virginia; his daughter, Karen and her husband, David, of Syracuse; by his four grandchildren, John, Josh, Matt, and Katy and her husband, Noah; and by his three great-granddaughters. 

His parents, John and Mary Ciaccio, died before him, as did his brothers, John Ciaccio Jr. and Dominic Ciaccio; his son, Craig Ciaccio, and his grandson, Charles Ciaccio III.  

A memorial is planned for summer.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association at heart.org, or Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.

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