August 6, 1937 – April 7, 2023 (age 85)
Anthony Joseph “Tony” Gagliardi of Newburgh, NY died on Good Friday, April 7, 2023, two months after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. He was 85 years old.
Tony was born August 6, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY to Florence and Pasquale Gagliardi, one month after his mother immigrated to the United States by ship via Ellis Island. He liked to say he was conceived in Italy but was proud to be an American Citizen. Tony attended Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, where he ran track, specializing in sprinting and hurdles. He attended the University of Kansas on a track scholarship, where he studied chemistry and became a lifelong Jayhawks fan. Rock Chalk! He was also very active in his fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma.
Anthony was drafted to the United States Army, where he proudly served in the 101st Airborne Division. He was sent to Vietnam as part of the Army Medical Unit. After his unit was attacked and captured by the Vietcong, he received a battlefield promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. Lieutenant Colonel Gagliardi planned, organized, and implemented an escape from a prisoner of war camp on the Vietnam-Cambodian border, leading his unit of 22 men to safety.
For these actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also the recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, The Vietnam Gallantry Cross (awarded by the Vietnamese Government), The Prisoner of War Medal, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal, as well as the Army Presidential Unit Citation. The Distinguished Service Cross was only awarded to about 1,000 Vietnam Veterans and is the second highest military award after the Medal of Honor, for which he was nominated.
Following his unit’s escape, they were rescued by helicopter and returned to the United States. Anthony decided not to continue his career in the Army and used the Vietnam Era GI Bill to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”) to earn a master’s degree in Chemistry. He later decided to go into the advertising field and attended New York University for a Master’s in Business Administration. Tony then lived in Manhattan for many years, and he found his career niche in the sale of outdoor advertising.
On a blind date on Valentine’s Day, Tony met the love of his life, Dr. Susan Jensen. Susie is also from Brooklyn, but had already established her medical practice in Newburgh. Tony and Susie were married on April 5, 1986, and Tony relocated to Newburgh. He continued to drive every day to New York City until he retired. They were married for 37 years. They had one daughter, Andrea Marie, and Tony was very proud to see Andrea walk across the stage and receive her Juris Doctor, at the Albany Law School graduation last year.
Tony was a great cook. Up until the very end, he drove to Adam’s Fair Acre Farms every day to buy fresh food to cook for his family in his personally designed dream kitchen. The kitchen was rebuilt last year after the Gaglardis suffered a house fire in March 2022. Tony also loved outdoor activities including gardening, hunting, and target shooting. He enjoyed going to Black Rock Fish and Game Club where he was a lifetime member. He also loved to travel, especially on hunting trips, as well as to Italy, where his family was from. He was a member of the many Catholic parishes in Newburgh as they combined over the years.
Tony is survived by his wife Dr. Susan Jensen-Gagliardi, and his daughter Andrea Marie Gagliardi, J.D., as well as his beloved “grandpup” Lily Luna. He is also survived by his brother Robert Gagliardi, and sisters-in-law Joann Gagliardi and Anna Marie Vitanza-Gagliardi, as well as Susan’s six siblings and their spouses. Tony is also survived by thirteen nieces and nephews, as well as their spouses and children. In addition, he is survived by Anna DeSantis, who he considered his second daughter, and her family. He is predeceased by his parents Florence and Pasquale Gagliardi, his brother Gerard Gagliardi, and his in-laws Lief and Doris Jensen.
A viewing will be held at Brooks Funeral Home on 481 Gidney Ave in Newburgh on Wednesday April 12th from 3:00pm-8:00pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Church on Robinson Ave (Route 9W) in Newburgh on Thursday April 13th at 10:00am. Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Gagliardi’s burial will be with military honors and will take place at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newburgh immediately following the church service.
Susan and Andrea would like to thank St. Luke’s Hospital for their extraordinary care during Tony’s final days. So many nurses, doctors, social workers, and the administration bent over backwards to make our family comfortable and ensure Tony died with dignity. We would especially like to thank Dr. John Hughes, Dr. Saju Das, Dr. Mitchell Cabisudo, and Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega, as well as the entire Horizon Family Medical Group office in New Windsor for everything they did for “Dr. J” during our family’s time of need. We would also like to thank Father Bill Scaffidi for being a great friend and spiritual advisor to Tony continuously since the time Andrea was baptized, including the time she planned a surprise 30th anniversary party and vow renewal for her parents, seven years ago. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Anthony’s name to the Montefiore Saint Luke’s Cornwall Hospital Foundation and/or The Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, NY.