Obituary of Robert Dellacona
October 8, 2021
Robert Dellacona, the "Mayor of Greenwich Village" who also started the highly successful "Maid in New York" cleaning service, died on Friday, October 8th, from cancer.
From his perch overlooking West Fourth Street Dellacona, known as Robert, Bobby D., Bob, Uncle Robert, and Qayyum, each representing the various social and spiritual circles he belonged to, came to befriend everyone in the neighborhood during his 50 years there.
Dellacona was born at St. Elizabeth's Hospital to a Neapolitan Italian family in working class Brooklyn on June 24, 1945. He was precocious and industrious, considered the smartest kid in his class. He started kindergarten at four, graduated high school at 16, and went to Canisius College in Buffalo, becoming the first college graduate in his family.
At the same time, his childhood was not without struggle. From an early age, Dellacona attempted to reconcile being gay with his Catholic upbringing. Though he took steps to become a priest and moved to a monastery to study the Passionist order, he found it was not his vocation.
In 1972, he moved to New York City, took out a $28 ad in the Village Voice, and started an apartment cleaning service. He worked every day and night. Within three months, he needed help, hired staff, and named his newly founded operation "Maid in New York." Soon the company employed over 100 people and became known as one of the premier cleaning services of homes, offices, and retail facilities throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs. But while his business took off, his personal life began to fall apart.
A friend brought Dellacona to a 12-step group where his recovery began and continued for over 46 years, during which his sponsorship and counsel comforted innumerable people. Many credit him with saving their lives.
Through recovery Dellacona discovered meditation and was drawn deeper into the mystical side of life. He found his way to a Sufi community at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY, where he was initiated into the Sufi order in the early 1990s, frequently attended silent retreats, and studied at Suluk Academy with Pir Zia and other gifted teachers who taught him the thousand year old Sufi meditation practices.
Dellacona watched his Greenwich Village change after Stonewall and was active in the gay rights movement. At the height of AIDS in the 1980s, he lost more than 150 friends and volunteered to care for dying patients at St. Vincent's Hospital. Over the years he mentored and sponsored countless gay men. Friends say he was born with the "friendship gene" and created intimate and lifelong bonds wherever he went.
After a prolonged battle with cancer, that included an aggressive pursuit of alternative medicine, Dellacona passed away peacefully on Friday, October 8, 2021. He led a life filled with humor, kindness, and generosity, inspiring love and friendship in the many people he brought together. He made his chosen and extended family into his immediate one, regularly hosting friends and loved ones in Pawling and Fire Island, where there was always room for one more guest.
Robert Dellacona is survived by his nephew Marty and Candace Dellacona; their children Scarlett, Max, and Evie, to whom he was affectionately known as Uncle Robert; his nephew David Evans and his family; his cousin Camille Villano; his brother Martin Dellacona III; his sister MaryAnn Evans; his best friends Bill Rose and Gene Gegler; Rose's partner Valden; Gegler's wife Mary and their children Meg and Clark; his dear friend Alan Felsenthal; and many other friends too numerous to name.
A memorial celebrating Robert Dellacona's life will be held on Saturday, November 20th at 11am at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, New York, New York. All are welcomed to attend.
November 20, 2021
Church of St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson St.
New York City, NY 10014Get Directions
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My dear Bobby, so sad that this day had to come. You were such an inspiration for my life and such a great mentor during my time in New York. And god where you funny. I will miss you dearly and of course never forget you. Who could forget you anyway my very special friend from Greenwich Village.
Posted by: Hans-Lothar Huhn - Bacharach Germany, - October 18, 2021
Rest well dear friend.
Posted by: Sophia Pazos - New York, NY - October 18, 2021
May ur soul be @peace
Posted by: Leonard Rocco Rocco - Bloomfield, NJ - October 18, 2021
44 years ago in the rooms of recovery we met. Your love of life and enthusiasm for recovery touched me. When you visited my/our home in Piermont we touched and were touched by a kind of love that does not end in death. Thank yoou especially for your words in this last year, "God who has begun the good work in you will see it to completion"
Posted by: Roger Radley - Fresno, CA - October 19, 2021
Oh, Bob, I will miss you! What amazing experiences we had in our early days!
You were always such an adventurer, such a seeker! We shared countless hours in our spiritual quest early on, biking to Marguerite's at least two times a week, attending her retreats. You introduced me to The Way of A Pilgrim and we did the discipline of the Jesus Prayer together, which was an amazing gift for us both. And we even did it again in the last couple of years!
You were an amazing and generous friend, always ready to help the next person in need. And of course we shared recovery - the greatest gift of our lives! Your companionship on these life changing paths was invaluable to me. I can hear your voice, your laugh which was a blend of a cackle and a guffaw. You loved life and life loved you!
Now, you are flying free, accompanied by your guardian angels who are welcoming you Home.
God bless you always, dear friend!
Posted by: Bliss Holland - Denver, CO - October 19, 2021
Bob was a dear,sweet,caring human being.He always encouraged me,& always had a kind word.We both celebrated our anniversary in september.I will always remember u.
Posted by: David Black - Bronx, NY - October 19, 2021
A true friend is never truly gone. Their spirit lives on in the memories of those who loves them. Some truth in life are hard to accept. Your memories will never be forgotten! Rest In Peace!
Posted by: Richard Flores - Rego Park, NY - October 23, 2021
Oh dear Bob - I am deeply sad to now learn another part of my life is gone - those magic moments we shared on your few encounters, the intimacy we enjoyed and deep soul-to-soul relation I aprreciated so much.
You connected me to the true Ney York which visitors not always get to experience.
As a visitor from Germany to gay new York you greeted me "hello" on Christopher Street, someday in.....1997,1999.......and your smile was so winning.
A few days later, we sat outside at dinner in a Village eatery. The nature of my limited vacation had me return home and that set an interruption of several years, at times when facebook was not yet around. We somehow lost track. A few years later, November 2003, I was in a psychic crisis and revisited New York in search of places that would revitalize me and make me happy again.
Unplanned, I saw you rushing over Cooper Union Square or 4th Avenue, somewhere down there..... . In a city of millions! That was fate. We were happy to accidentally run into each other and meet again and had a long, warm conversation in a café afterwards.
You had hard times struggling after 2001. I was so happy for you that after the finacial crisis when overall economy was coming back in NYC your enterprise slowly gained momentum again . As I could see form a distance at fb, you could enjoy of few years of retirement harmony inmidst your loved ones, in the solitude and serenity of the countryside. That made me happy for you.
Gladly, we had a last phone call this spring 2021.
It is a shock and heartache to get informed you had to go so soon. FB is a blessing in that case and I thank all of you, dear friends, who took care to put this information in his fb account, other, I wouldnt know. I will traasure my memories with you and am saying thank you for bringing me the joy and honor of meeting you. I am taking you one last time in my arms, Bob. Rest in peace or have a good journey, dear Bob - whatever is out there! Olaf, Germany
Posted by: Olaf Sommer - Plüderhausen, - November 12, 2021