Photo of Robert Giurdanella
Robert J. Giurdanella

Obituary of Robert J. Giurdanella

December 6, 2021

It is with heavy hearts and much love that we mourn the passing of Robert J. Giurdanella, our beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather, "boss", and friend to all on December 6th, 2021. In days prior, Robert was home and was continuously surrounded by family and friends; everyone he loved and who loved him. He was enjoying time together and home cooked meals. On the hour of his death at home, he was peacefully encircled by his wife, Ann of 64 years, and his children Christine and Carlo. In his 89 years of life, he dedicated himself to help others achieve their goals by designing and building beautiful spaces for people to live and work. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need, and was an inspiration, a role model and mentor to all who knew him. He loved to work and later in life to tell stories about all his work and experiences. However, what he truly cherished most, above all else, was his family. He has left behind a legacy and his love for his family, especially his 3 grandchildren, Nicholas Anthony, Alexandra Nicole, and Robert Jake is what will remain with us forever.

"Mr.G", as many referred to him, was a man who lived his values and lifted generations. He is simply irreplaceable. He was one of a kind and a true legend. He wanted things His Way. "My Way" by Frank Sinatra was his song. He was tough, yet compassionate. He was arrogant, yet humble. He liked to scream to get his point across (though always denied he was yelling), but he loved to laugh and smile more. He loved to be surrounded by family and friends and enjoyed nothing more than the holidays to visit with all our friends and have home cooked meals. When he "helped" in the kitchen, he used no less than 4 bowls, 5 pots and pans, 20 utensils and 3 dish towels, not to mention the counter mess.

"Bob or Bobby" loved his work and all that he learned throughout the years in terms of construction, renovation, finances, and property management. His hobbies were the stock market and his grandchildren. His ambition in life was to help others and provide opportunities for everyone, not only his family. He thrived on seeing other people's dreams come true and wanted to contribute in any way he could to help them reach their goals. His business and the properties he owned challenged him and affirmed him in ways that were extremely meaningful to him. He was very proud of the business he built and the work he did. He will tell you himself that it was never for money but it was to help others and for his family to be doing something together. The legacy he wants to leave behind is all his knowledge and all the experiences and lessons he has learned. His stories are his greatest gift to all of us.

Never wanting to miss a day of work, it was thought he would simply pass in his office chair. He was never concerned with how old he was and it never stopped him from climbing a ladder even just 2 months prior.

"RJG" was born on June 14, 1932, to Anthony & Carmela Giurdanella. His twin sister, Marianna, entered the world first and as the doctor was leaving and had just stepped foot out the door, they realized that baby Robert was taking his time and was still waiting to be delivered. Robert J. Giurdanella was born the youngest of 4 children. His sister, Marianna, and brothers, Frank and John, all pre-deceased Robert. RJG attended Stuyvesant High School and graduated in 1951. What he remembers most about his childhood was making raviolis by hand every Sunday for dinner with his mother at 2:00 pm. They also cooked arancini and lasagna together on many occasions; traditions he kept alive with his children and grandchildren today. Lemon ice was made with his Godfather who also was the only one to ever cut his hair until he went into the Army. His favorite meal besides lasagna, ravioli, and arancini was stuffed artichokes. While attending elementary and high school, he worked as a carpenter with his father and uncle at Giurdanella Bros. Inc. on 12th Street in Manhattan. Most notable to him was that he constructed incubators for the Board of Health so they could study snails.

On Dec 14th, 1952, Robert was called to Service in the United States Army starting at Camp Kilmer, NJ and later sent to Fort Knox leadership school. At Fort Knox, he trained for heavy weapons. Once it was uncovered that he was a carpenter by trade, he was asked to build bivouacs for his regiment. One of his most unforgettable experiences while in Kentucky was buying his very first and last brand-new car. He had been driving an Army Installation jeep and was following a tractor trailer hauling a 1953 Blue & White Chevrolet Bel-Air. Following the car carrier, he fell in love with the rear of the Bel-Air convertible. He went to the dealer, applied for a $2,060 loan at Manufacturers Trust and bought the car. He was so proud that he was able to purchase the car on his own accord only to find out later that his dad had co-signed the loan.

Robert loved photography and developed his own film in his own dark room. He started Five Star Photos and was a wedding photographer for a couple of years. He also made Gold and Bronze shoes as mementos from baby shoes. When home on leave, he would hang out on 14th St & 3rd Ave with his friends. He also loved politics and at one time considered running for Mayor of NY. He was on the Board of Directors at Sherwood Village Coop "C" for many, many years as their president and prided himself on finding creative ways to save money and reduce debt. His favorite presidents were Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Regan. Milton Berle was his favorite comedian. His favorite flower is a Gardenia and he would bring one to every girl he dated. In the early days of marriage, he would play poker to "earn" the $128 to pay the monthly rent.

When he returned from the Army, he wanted to head to Florida to open his own construction company in the South. His truck was all packed and ready to leave when his mother begged him to stay in New York. His love for his mother had him unpack his truck and set his sights on staying in the family business with his dad and uncle and his older brother, Frank. Thus, the continuation of Giurdanella Bros. Inc. Robert never stopped working and did not know the meaning of the word retirement. Right up until the very last day of his passing, he wanted to be on the job. When he had triple by-pass surgery and came home from the hospital 7 years ago, the first thing he did when he got back to 11th St was walk up 3 flights of stairs to see how the job was going. Giurdanella Bros. Inc. was truly a "family" business; any child, nephew, cousin, Aunt, Uncle, in-law, grandchild, or friend was welcome to join the team and join many did. His son, Carlo, participated in the business up until 2009. In 2009, his daughter Christine came to work for him and in 2017 she was joined by his grandson and her son, Nicholas. Together they will carry the torch that was Robert's dream.

To help family members and in-laws have a place of work, Robert and Frank opened Bella Tile Co. Inc at 178 First Avenue. The idea of Bella Tile was spun because of the inventory of tile that he wanted on hand for all their construction jobs. At top capacity, Giurdanella Bros. Inc. had employed over 40 people, all working throughout Manhattan from the West Side to the East Side and North and South.

As construction jobs came up, Robert found another hobby in real-life Monopoly and started purchasing run-down buildings and empty lots on East 11th and 12th Street where he grew up. In the 60's, he moved the carpenter shop from 12th Street to 4 Bond Street where he watched everyone from the mezzanine above. His father, Anthony, still operated the machinery until late in his 90's and now we know where Robert got his energy and love for life and never wanting to quit.

The only thing that could tear Papa G away from work was his grandchildren. He loved to visit on the holidays but more importantly he loved to come watch all their sporting events. He was a regular at the hockey games, both ice and field hockey, even the 6 am ones, when they were all Mites. He was clearly their biggest fan and travelled near and far just to see all three of them compete. Every summer for July 4th, you would find him up Squam Lake in New Hampshire surrounded by family and friends. The larger the crowd, the more he loved it! He made friends wherever he went and everyone loved his personality and stories. Everyone welcomed Mr. G who was always all smiles with open arms.

Truly, one of a kind! He will be greatly missed and was greatly loved.

Bob is survived by his wife Ann (Fodera) Giurdanella of 64 years; children, Christine Giurdanella-Renzi and husband Peter Renzi, son, Carlo Giurdanella; grandchildren, Nicholas Anthony and wife Margaret (Thibadeau) Renzi, Alexandra Nicole Renzi, and Robert Jake Renzi.

Visiting hours will be at Greenwich Village Funeral Home on Monday, December 13th, 2021 from 2-4 & 6-8 at 199 Bleeker Street N.Y., N.Y. 10012.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 am on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021 at Most Holy Redeemer Church 173 East 3rd Street NY, NY 10009. An interment will follow at Ferncliff Cemetery 280 Secor Road Hartsdale, NY 10530.

Funeral Services

Visitation

December 13, 2021

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

December 13, 2021

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Greenwich Village Funeral Home

199 Bleecker Street

New York, NY 10012

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Funeral Mass

December 14, 2021

9:30 AM

Most Holy Redeemer Church

173 East 3rd Street

New York, NY 10009

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Entombment

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