Vincent E. Toma

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Vincent E. Toma, 91, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family on Feb. 15, 2015. Vincent was a remarkable man, dearly loved and greatly admired by all those he touched with his kind ways, sharp mind and selfless generosity. Vincent made an indelible impression on everyone in his life, from his family, friends and co-workers, to Newark Mayors, political dignitaries and public figures, including Muhammad Ali, who once addressed him as “My Brother.” His sense of empathy, fairness and equality were evident throughout his distinguished life of service. His hardworking, tailor father, Vincenzo, and his mother, Vincenza  (Fressola), a Pentecostal Missionary, instilled a deep respect and compassion for others in each of the Toma children. At 16, Vincent attempted to enter the United States Army, but was turned away because of his young age. His tenacity did not go unnoticed. Vincent was later selected to train with the 29th Ranger Battalion during WWII. Members of the 29th Rangers were expected to demonstrate superior physical conditioning and passionate devotion to military service. Vincent was slated to be among the first to land at Omaha Beach, but the Battalion was deactivated. He was assigned to train other troops, in light of his extensive combat training in England and Scotland. When Vincent landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, he had the foresight to pack a camera in his boot. He snapped photos of the war, which were developed by the Army and returned to him after he was injured in battle. Vincent was proud to share these mementos, along with his vivid war recollections in a taped interview conducted by the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, based in Bedford, VA. These are to be preserved and shared with future generations. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart. The greatest story of Vincent’s life, however, was his extraordinary marriage to his wife of 65 years, Angela Johanna (Puglisi). They were a dynamic couple, each with successful careers, but more importantly, a shared love of life and a natural inclination to help others. In recent years, their love and devotion served as an inspiration for many. Vincent was at Angela’s side every day without fail during her long battle with Alzheimer’s. So beautiful was their connection that when there were scant words remaining, she would still feel his presence and motion to give him a kiss. He would bend near to receive it and lovingly reciprocate. At the outset of Vincent’s postmilitary career, he sought education and training through the Civil Service System. Over the course of his career in the City of Newark, he became Manager of the Division of Public Buildings, Director of Public Works, and Director of General Services. He oversaw some 2,000 employees. He retired in 1987 with more than 40 years of service, having worked under four mayors. In addition, he owned and operated successful construction, painting and cleaning businesses. He was also a member of the Freemasons for more than 50 years. Vincent will be deeply missed by his devoted brother David Toma, the renowned motivational speaker and addiction counselor, his wife, Patricia, of Clark, NJ, and their children Jimmy (Angelina), Patty (Augusto), Donna and Janice, along with loving in-laws and long-time friends. Many nieces and nephews, and their children, are blessed to carry forward the wonderful legacy of Uncle Vinnie. Vincent is preceded in death by his wife Angela; siblings Antoinette, Jerry, Camille, Theresa, Ralph, Louis, Marie, and two other siblings who passed away in early childhood; as well as several nephews and nieces who held a special place in his heart. A sincere thank you to his devoted caregiver, Nana. Relatives and friends are invited for visiting hours on Thursday from 4-8 pm at Farmer Funeral Home, 45 Roseland Ave., Roseland 07068. A Funeral Mass will be held on Friday at 10 am at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Roseland with entombment to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover. Condolences and memories may be shared at Donations in Vincent’s memory may be made to Welcome Home Vets Fund of New Jersey, c/o Weiner Lesniak LLP, P.O. Box 0438, Parsippany, NJ 07054-0438.

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