Longtime engineer for the several borough presidents, treasurer of the Chippewa Democratic Club and Locust Point resident James Cerasoli died on April 6. He was 76.
A dedicated civil servant, Cerasoli joined the borough president’s office around 1980, and worked for the office for years under the title ‘consulting engineer,’ approving all changes to official maps.
“But he was a lot more than that to me,” said former Borough President Fernando Ferrer.
Cerasoli was also in charge of the capital budget program, said Ferrer, overseeing money allocated for construction projects.
The first phase of Grand Concourse rehabilitation, the reconstruction between 161st and 167th street, as well as parks improvements from Hunts Point to Riverdale, was done on his watch, said Ferrer.
Although Cerasoli retired in 1995, he stayed on with the borough president’s office as a part-time consultant until recently.
“He was indispensable,” said Ferrer.
“James Cerasoli gained the respect and admiration of all through his tireless work in the Bronx,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “His signature is imprinted on numerous maps; his work and his memory will live forever.”
Outside of work, Cerasoli was heavily involved in the Chippewa Democratic Club, joining in 1968 and becoming treasurer a few years later. He also assisted with the schematics for the club’s renovation.
Club president Ed Koester called him ‘the most accurate man I ever met,’ and said he was truly a team player.
“It’s a big loss for our organization and the community,” said Koester. “I’m going to miss him.”
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto also relied on Cerasoli when he was district leader. Cerasoli later joined the assemblyman’s staff part-time.
“He was invaluable to me,” said Benedetto.
Cerasoli was Benedetto’s go-to person on housing and zoning issues, but also dedicated time each spring to complete dozens of seniors’ tax returns. Benedetto called him a ‘tremendously giving person’ who helped people in his own quiet way.
“He was a wonderful asset to the Chippewa Club, my staff, the borough president’s office, and the community at large,” said Benedetto. “But besides all that he was just a good guy and we’re going to miss him greatly.”
“It’s a tough loss for all of us in the east Bronx,” said longtime friend Bob Nolan.
His son, Dave Cerasoli, said his father was a ‘man of the people’ who loved to talk to anyone and had a myriad of interests.
After retiring he taught physics at Bronx Community College.
In addition to all he gave to the community, Cerasoli was also a nurturing and supportive father.
“He loved all of us and did whatever he could to help us,” said Cerasoli.
There was one thing his dad used to say that epitomized his outlook on life.
“Always take your work seriously, but never take yourself seriously.”
Cerasoli is survived by sons Dave and Alex. His son, James Jr. died a year ago.