It is only fitting that those who want to remember John Santopietro and raise funds in his name go out onto the ball field or gather in the stands to watch, as they are expected to do on Aug. 17 at Gorman’s Field. There, they will hold a fundraising softball game pitting the Bayonne Elks against the Bayonne Department of Public Works.
Santopietro was an avid football fan who decorated the walls of his room with posters of his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys – one of many memories his family and friends retain after a tragic accident took his life.
Known sometimes as John or Jack, though most often as Bubba, Santopietro died in March as the result of injuries sustained after his motorcycle collided with a minivan along the narrow roadway near Avenue E and 10th Street.
He was on his way to the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, where he worked as a repairman.
A dynamic kid and asset to the community
Described as a “dynamic kid” and someone who loved everyone, Santopietro had hoped to become a firefighter for the City of Bayonne. Although studying criminal justice at Hudson County Community College at the time of his death, Santopietro had planned to attend New Jersey City University in the fall to study fire science, a program designed to help people pursue careers as firefighters. He was on the Civil Service list to become a firefighter in Bayonne.
Once an altar server at St. Henry’s Church, Santopietro had frequently played Jesus at the church’s annual presentation of the Stations of the Cross during the spring.
“He was a terrific guy.” – Steve Gallo
A graduate of Lincoln Community School and Bayonne High School, he worked by day and attended college at night. Friends said he loved to ride his dirt bike, but also had numerous other interests, including the Boy Scouts. He had attainted the rank of Eagle Scout with Troop No. 35. He also served as a Sensei for the Kids Safe Karate Program and was a First Degree Black Belt in Isshin-Ryu.
“He was a terrific guy,” recalled Steve Gallo, who, as executive director of the BMUA, served as Santopietro’s boss. Gallo also served as scout master for the Boy Scout troop Santopietro attended.
In an attempt to turn tragedy into an opportunity for other young people, friends and family established “Remember Me… John [Jack] Santopietro” a non-profit organization whose purpose is to educate motorcycle awareness and establish, maintain and offer an annual scholarship to a student majoring in Fire Science at NJCU, and to offer campership awards to Bayonne scouts attending a Boy Scouts summer camp.
Donations can be made to the charity at P.O. Box 3129, Bayonne, N.J. 07002. Organizers said matching gifts are welcome. For more information, visit the website www.rememberme316.org to get on the mailing list, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A box for donations will also be located at the entrance to Gorman Field on the night of the game, which starts at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17.